Features

Secret Health Obsessions

By Nancy Wozny and Laura Cappelle


It takes more than training to make a great dancer. What powers those grand jetés? What helps a dancer unwind? Professionals constantly fine-tune their wellness regimens to discover the snack, the roller or hobby that will help them to achieve artistic and technical feats night after night.


REBECCA KROHN
New York City Ballet
Rank: Principal


Power elixir: Low-fat chocolate milk. “I learned about the recuperation powers of chocolate milk from the Olympic athletes. Now it’s my go-to drink after a hard show.”
Pre-performance habit: A 15-minute snooze three hours before show time. “It’s like hitting the restart button: It gives me a moment of peace so I can focus later.”
Go-to meal: Kale salad with brussels sprouts and almonds. “I make a big one to last the week and nibble on it all day long. Kale’s so healthy, full of iron and fiber. And it’s really filling, too.”

ALLISTER MADIN
Paris Opéra Ballet
Rank: Sujet


Go-to breakfast: Two pieces of dark Côte d’Or chocolate with a praline nut center. “I don’t like to eat too much before the day starts.”
Stress relief: Bach Flower Rescue Remedy. “I put a few drops under my tongue to calm down and focus. I use it every year before our internal competition for promotion, which is more stressful than any show.”
Favorite R&R strategy: Using Nexcare cold packs. “I put them on my Achilles tendons for 5 to 20 minutes. It’s the first thing I do in the morning, and I repeat in the evening.”
Power elixir: Starbucks’ Java Chip Frappuccino, with extra chips. “I can’t get through the day without it. I drop by a Starbucks near the Palais Garnier every afternoon for a venti. It’s my daily sugar boost since we have to watch what we eat, and it’s so filling it also calms me down.”











Mental booster: Etiopathy. “I’ve been seeing an etiopath, a type of bonesetter, for four years. He can tell a lot just from someone’s pulse, and he’s articulated things that were unconscious for me. It helps with mental blocks or underlying issues, and it’s like a catalyst—it’s helped me mature.”

LAUREN FADELEY


Pennsylvania Ballet
Rank: Principal

Rehydration treat: Frozen ZICO Chocolate coconut water. “I put one in the freezer overnight. It’s a delicious way to hydrate my body.”
Foot release: Bouncy ball. “It’s a toy, but it does wonders for my big-toe tendon.”
Favorite gadget: Trigger Point Performance Therapy’s The GRID roller. “It looks crazy, a bit like a tire, but it’s great for rolling out the IT band. I don’t go anywhere without it. When in doubt, roll out everything.”
Favorite R&R strategy: “Cuddling with Emmett, my 170-pound English mastiff.”


MEGAN ZIMNY GRAY
Dutch National Ballet
Rank: Second soloist


Go-to breakfast: Oatmeal or porridge with raw hemp seeds and chia seeds. “I’m a vegetarian, so I have to find little ways to get protein. The seeds really help with that, and they keep my energy level up.”
Pre-performance habit: Role-specific mantras. “They depend on the qualities I want to project that night. I don’t share them with anyone; they’re quite personal. But I repeat them to myself to calm my nerves and put my head in the right place.”
Favorite supplements: New Chapter organic multivitamins and vitamin D (to help her body absorb calcium). “Living in Amsterdam, we hardly ever see the sun!”
Recovery sessions: Mensendieck therapy. “Whenever something hurts, our company’s Mensendieck therapist looks at my alignment to figure out why. She analyzes how I’m moving to get to the root of the problem.”

JOSEPH WALSH
Houston Ballet
Rank: Principal



Power elixir: Strawberry kombucha. “I drink it before, after and sometimes during performances. It’s alkaline, which is so good for cell regeneration.”
Recovery sessions: Trigger-point massage. “It manipulates the fascia, which can get in knots from scar tissue. I might cry during the sessions, but I will walk out the office pain-free.”
Go-to snack: Kale and avocado smoothie. “This is a dairy-free way to feel great. It really improves my stamina. I add chia seeds for extra punch.”
Favorite R&R strategy: Reading mental_floss magazine. “I love the quizzes. It really pushes you to think, which is great for getting your mind off dance.”















Your Best Body
Pilates hundred intermediate set-up, modeled by Jordan Miller. Photo by Emily Giacalone.

The Pilates hundred is a popular exercise used by many dancers for conditioning and warming up, but it's also one of the most misunderstood. Pumping your arms for 100 counts sounds simple enough, but it requires coordinated breathwork, a leg position that suits your abilities and proper alignment. Marimba Gold-Watts, who works with New York City Ballet dancers at her Pilates studio, Articulating Body, breaks down this surprisingly hard exercise. When done correctly, the benefits are threefold: "If you're doing it before class," she says, "the hundred is a great way to get your blood flowing and work on breath control and abdominal support all at once."

To Start

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Nod your chin toward the front of your throat, and reach your fingertips long.

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At just 16 years old, the Bolshoi Ballet's Maria Alexandrova already had the makings of a great artist. In this variation from Coppélia, she portrays the carefree Swanilda with blithe, youthful ease.

When she bounds on stage in her perky pink tutu, you immediately notice her legs–they just go on forever. In the first sequence of steps she keeps her jetés and développés low, but then the phrase repeats and she lets her gorgeous extensions fly. She sails through Italian fouettés and whirls around in piqués en manège that get faster and faster. While she nails all the virtuosic movement, Alexandrova also pays beautiful attention to detail throughout the variation. Even the simplest steps become something exciting, like her precise pas de bourrées beginning at 1:03 that sing with musicality.

Swanilda has been one of Alexandrova's signature roles throughout her career. For a fun side by side, watch her perform the same variation almost 20 years later in this video. Although Alexandrova formally retired from the Bolshoi in February, she still performs frequently in Moscow and internationally as a guest artist. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!


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Ingrid Silva and her dog, Frida Kahlo. Photo by Nathan Sayers for Pointe.

You're probably already following your favorite dancers on Instagram, but did you know that you can follow many of their dogs, too? We rounded up some of our favorite dog-centered accounts and hashtags to keep you pawsitively entertained (sorry, we can't help ourselves).

Cora and Maya (American Ballet Theatre's Sarah Lane and Luis Ribagorda)

Sarah Lane and Luis Ribagorda's pups Cora and Maya update their profile pretty frequently. Often accompanying Lane to the ABT studios, they can also be seen using tutus or piles of pink tights as dog beds.

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Vladislav Lantritov and Ekaterina Krysanova in "Taming of the Shrew." Photo by Alice Blangero, Courtesy Bolshoi Ballet.

If you haven't checked your local movie listings yet for this weekend, hop to it. The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema series and Fathom Events is broadcasting a performance of Jean-Christophe Maillot's The Taming of the Shrew to theaters nationwide on Sunday, November 19. (To see if it's playing near you and to purchase tickets, click here.) While the rest of the Bolshoi's cinema season features 19th- and 20th-century classics, The Taming of the Shrew gives audiences a chance to see the revered Moscow company in a thoroughly modern, 21st-century take on Shakespeare's famous play.

Aside from a limited run in New York City this July, American audiences have had little exposure to Maillot's 2014 production. To learn more, check out these two exclusive, behind-the-scenes webisodes below. Principal dancer Ekaterina Krysanova, who stars as the hotheaded Katharina, gives an intimate play-by-play of two major scenes in Act I. The first is her fiery rejection of three potential suitors (who all would prefer to marry Katharina's younger sister Bianca).

The second scene breaks down Katharina's first encounter with Petruchio (danced by the larger-than-life Vladislav Lantritov), the only man who seems to be able to challenge her. Here, too, we see the shrew's heart start to soften. (Don't miss her time-stopping attitude turn at 4:27.)

The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Series continues through June; for more details on upcoming screenings, click here.

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Smuin Ballet dancers Erica Felsch, Rex Wheeler, Mengjun Chen and Tessa Barbour in "White Christmas," choreographed by dancers Ben Needham-Wood and Michael Smuin. Photo by Keith Sutter, Courtesy Smuin Ballet.

Nutcracker-ed out? Or just can't get enough holiday ballets? These unique Nutcracker interpretations and non-Nutcracker productions will make your season bright.


The Hip Hop Nutcracker

Through December 30

Tchaikovsky's masterful Nutcracker score isn't just for classical ballet…

Hip Hop + a live DJ + an electric violinist unite in The Hip Hop Nutcracker, currently touring the U.S.

Familiar characters such Drosselmeyer, the Nutcracker, Mouse King and Marie (here called Maria-Clara) dance through an updated New York City storyline with choreography by Jennifer Weber, artistic director of the Brooklyn-based theatrical hip hop company Decadancetheatre.

Premiered in 2014, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is produced by New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

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Jurgita Dronina as Kitri in "Don Quixote." Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

When Jurgita Dronina first danced Kitri for a guest performance of Don Quixote with Teatro Filarmonico-Fondazione Arena Di Verona, she was in essence cast against type. "Before Kitri, I was dancing only lyrical or dramatic roles, so I had to start from scratch in finding my own signature in the steps and my own interpretation of the character," says Dronina, who was dancing with Royal Swedish Ballet at the time.

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