Health & Body

Ballet Austin's Aara Krumpe Shares Her Cross-Training Secrets

Krumpe in The Firebird. Photo by Tony Spielberg, Courtesy Ballet Austin.

Morning whirlwind: As a mother of two boys, the a.m. hustle is hectic for Ballet Austin's Aara Krumpe. But she always makes time for a 15-minute home workout on her Pilates reformer before company class. She uses the apparatus to warm up her feet and calves and do crunches and arm work. "By the time I walk in the studio, I can already feel the backs of my legs and my core," she says.

Favorite tool: During breaks between class and rehearsals, Krumpe stretches and uses a yoga block for support. "I focus on keeping my hips loose and open." To stretch her psoas, she'll lie down with the block propped under her tailbone and let gravity do the rest.


Creature of habit: Krumpe has oatmeal for breakfast and lunch daily, and likes that it's calorie-dense and keeps her full. "Everyone makes fun of me, but it fuels my body. When I'm partnering and people are squeezing and lifting me, I don't want a ton of food in my stomach." If her day is more demanding, she'll also snack on a protein bar. At night, she fills up on a big salad with protein, vegetables and cheese.

Krumpe with Paul Michael Bloodgood in Stephen Mills' Desire. Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood, Courtesy Ballet Austin.

Visualization 2.0: Another routine Krumpe can't do without? Her pre-performance quiet time. "I tell my kids that I'm going to take a nap, and I lie in bed and go through the whole ballet in my head." While many dancers use visualization to quickly review a tricky section of choreography, Krumpe says she never rushes through this integral technique. "I have to do it in real time. It helps me think of the nuance of the movement and what I want to present to the audience with each note."

Nighttime soak: When the curtain comes down, Krumpe grabs her yoga block for cool-down stretches and rolls out her calves. Once at home, she spends 10 to 15 minutes in the hot tub, stretching more and massaging out any kinks in her legs. Sometimes, she follows that with a contrast ice bath for her feet. Then it's off to bed for a minimum of eight hours. "That's very important for longevity in my career, and so my muscles have time to get ready for the next day."

Off-season schedule: During the summer, Krumpe does a longer version of her reformer workout and visits the YMCA for three heart-pumping elliptical sessions each week. She also takes at least four open adult classes weekly at Ballet Austin's school. It's a full schedule, says Krumpe, but "I'll stagger it to make sure that I always have a day to relax."

Ballet Training
Hortense Millet-Maurin (third from left) and her classmates perform August Bournonville's La Conservatoire. Svetlana Loboff, Courtesy POB.

As a little girl, Hortense Millet-Maurin fell in love with the wide spiral staircase that dominates the center of the Paris Opéra Ballet School. Today, as a focused 15-year-old POB student, she and her classmate Vincent Vivet navigate the school's spacious architecture on a daily basis. In a hallway strewn with foam rollers and tennis balls, their faces are laced with concentration as they prepare alongside their peers for afternoon ballet class. Color-coded uniforms reflect Vivet's and Millet-Maurin's third division; with only two advanced divisions remaining, they are increasingly close to realizing their professional aspirations: joining the Paris Opéra Ballet. Pointe spoke with these two young dancers to see what it's like studying inside the world's oldest ballet academy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Training
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Elizabeth Steele of The School at Steps.

If you're feeling wobbly in adagio or wish you could hold your piqué attitude a bit longer, there are ways to assess and improve your balance. Try these four exercises, recommended by Heather Southwick, Boston Ballet's director of physical therapy.

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

Keep reading... Show less