Daria Klimentova, New Mum
Jeffery Taylor

"You're dancing so much better, Darling," - "You too, sweetie" - The ritual exchange of words heard in ballet studios the world over when a dancer, delivered of her first baby, returns to work. And it is often nothing but the truth. London ballet audiences will recall with wonder the regeneration in 1989 of the Royal Ballet's prima ballerina, Lesley Collier, after she gave birth to twins, Peter and Benjamin, at the age of 42. But, as with English National Ballet's leading ballerina, Daria Klimentova, the gushing sentiments of colleagues are usually taken with a large pinch of salt. Czech born Klimentova gave birth to 6.5lbs Sabina just eight months ago, and was back in class two weeks later. "People say nice things," she speculates, "but do they mean it?"

" I actually do feel better since having the baby," she admits. " I am fitter and have more stamina, but my biggest improvement is up here," and she taps her temple. "I'm not scared to do things like I was before Sabina, Technical tricks like thirty two fouettes (that fiendish revolution on one leg that seems to go on forever) don't frighten me anymore because I have something else to concentrate on…. something else in my life. I'm more confident in general. Everything comes from the brain."

Bucking the current trend of female dancers having children at the end of their careers, Klimentova has always promised herself her own family before the age of 30. "At this age I still have a lot of dancing time left," she explains. "For 2 years I felt in my stomach that I wanted a baby, then the time was right. I chose it, my husband is 43, so it didn't matter to him, it was my decision and my career move."

Husband is theatre producer and director, Ian 'Mup' Comer. It was while he was working on his production of A Christmas Carol that Daria fell pregnant- she knew immediately. "I was certain I was pregnant. I was very hungry, with a deep hunger, I had to go straight away to buy pizza." Half way through the pregnancy the couple bought a 3 bedroom house in West London to start their family life and Sabina was born on November 6, 2000, the first day of rehearsals for her father's new show.

In January Daria and Mup took their daughter to Prague, Daria's hometown, to show her off to all the family. All except Daria's late father, Zdenek. "He was so proud of me," remembers Daria, "he never missed a single show of mine when I danced in Czechoslovakia. I wish he could see my daughter. He died aged 53 the day I joined English National Ballet in 1996. Suddenly I had no-one to cry to." Perhaps with Mup and Sabina, and a healthy appetite for future offspring, Daria Klimentova will no longer feel the need for tears.