How Ballet Arizona’s Sasha Vincett Balances Her Career With Being a Single Mom

May 12, 2023

For many years, while most Ballet Arizona dancers were grabbing a meal or taking a preshow power nap during theater weeks, company member Sasha Vincett would be sitting in rush-hour traffic. As a single mother, Vincett had a short window of time to pick up her daughter, Seneca, from school. They’d then both head back to the theater, where Seneca would hunker down in her mom’s dressing room. “Being a single parent on a dancer’s salary, I couldn’t afford a babysitter every single night that I was performing,” says Vincett. Thankfully, costume workers and fellow dancers regularly volunteered to watch her daughter while Vincett was onstage.

Things have gotten a bit easier in the last two years—Vincett, 37, now has a boyfriend who can help with childcare during all-consuming theater weeks. But the veteran BAZ dancer has been juggling her career with single parenthood for the last seven years. She’s thrilled to see more acceptance of dancers having families (including married BAZ dancers Jillian Barrell and Nayon Iovino, who have a 2-year-old), but says being a single parent brings unique challenges. “Sometimes I feel very alone, because I just don’t know how many other dancers are in this situation,” says Vincett. She wants others who may be facing a similar circumstance to know that it’s difficult, but possible—and doesn’t have to be career-ending. She says the support and flexibility she receives from BAZ artistic staff and the company’s family atmosphere have created the perfect village for raising her child, now 11.

Sasha Vincett and Ricardo Santos lock arms and kick their right legs high in the air during a performance. They wear huge smiles on their faces. Vincett is costumed in a white peasant dress with yellow trim and a tulle skirt. Santos wears a white peasant blouse with a red tie and cummerbund, black knickers, white tights and black ballet slippers. Behind them a large group of dancers wearing peasant costumes look on, with some holding tambourines.
Vincett with Ricardo Santos in Auguste Bournonville’s Napoli. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy Ballet Arizona

“Even at the studios, if I have a rehearsal and she’s on spring break from school, for example, the dancers sit in the lobby and have lunch with her or play dolls with her,” says Vincett. “This is my tribe, and my co-workers are like aunts and uncles at this point.”

Originally from Pennsylvania, Vincett joined BAZ in 2007. She married, giving birth to Seneca in 2012. When her daughter was 3, Vincett and her husband divorced; he moved back to Pennsylvania shortly afterwards. Faced with the bulk of the childcare, Vincett grew determined. “I thought, Well, I love what I do. I’m not stopping just because it’s difficult. I’ll figure it out.”

And figure it out she has, from getting her daughter off to school, rushing to pick her up and take her to ballet class at the School of BAZ (where Vincett also teaches), feeding her dinner, and, during theater weeks, getting her to bed at a decent hour. “You definitely have to figure out how to be very organized as a parent,” says Vincett. Socializing after performances isn’t really an option, but she says that’s okay—she’s with her friends all day at work. Her mother, who died two years ago, helped out when she could. And sometimes artistic staff allow her to miss a studio rehearsal to pick Seneca up from aftercare if necessary. 

Sasha Vincett, wearing a dark, long-sleeved leotard, black tights and black socks, sits on the stage floor next to a portable ballet barre. Her young daughter, wearing a lavender leotard, pink tights and pink slippers, sits in between Vincett's legs, with her own legs out straight in front of her. They smile for the camera. Behind them, other dancers in workout clothing sit on the ground and stretch.
Mother and daughter backstage a few years ago before onstage company class. Photo courtesy Vincett.

At times Vincett has questioned whether spending so much time at the studio and theater is “normal enough” for her daughter. “But I would never choose any other way of raising her. It’s such a special place and it’s a safe place, and she gets to see so much. She gets to see the ballet, she gets to hear the symphony.”

And growing up around dancers has rubbed off on Seneca, who started pointe a few months ago and advances to the school’s upper division next year. “I never really pushed her into ballet, but I think being there all the time really influenced her.” Mother and daughter have also had opportunities to share the stage in BAZ’s productions, including in Nutcracker’s party scene in 2022. “It was so wonderful to have that experience with her.”

Those performances were the last they would do together—on June 3, Vincett will retire from BAZ, dancing in Ib Anderson’s Rite of Spring. But she won’t be going far; she’s taking up a new administrative post as the company’s costume shop manager. And while she’ll still need to figure out how to juggle her career with childcare, she’s grateful for her BAZ family. “I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without them, especially while dancing. They’ve been so helpful and open about my situation.”

She hopes her experience can spark more conversation about balancing parenthood with a dance career, and to encourage those who may be struggling to know that it’s doable. “It’s been hard, but also gratifying. I feel so fortunate that I’ve been able to continue my career for so long after having a child.”