Ballet Training

Andrea Yorita Cross-Trains to Prepare for the Demanding Variety of BalletX's Repertoire

Andrea Yorita in Matthew Neenan's Increasing. Photo by Alexander Izilaev, Courtesy BalletX.

Cross-training keeps Andrea Yorita prepared for the demanding variety in BalletX's repertoire.

Choreographic chameleon: At BalletX, Andrea Yorita performs a wide range of contemporary ballet by dancemakers like Matthew Neenan, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Trey McIntyre. “It's very hard on our feet," she says. “Even within a show, we'll go from socks to bare feet to flat shoes to pointe shoes."

A solid foundation: To keep their pointework crisp, the dancers typically take class on pointe five days a week. Yorita also does Thera-Band work for her ankles each morning, plus doming exercises. “I try to keep all of those little muscles on the bottom of my feet strong, so I can be grounded when I'm dancing in socks."


Snack time: “I like to bring nuts to work, like almonds, because they're quick and easy," she says. Yorita also drinks a lot of coconut water or has a banana—the potassium keeps muscle cramps at bay.

Yorita's cross-training allows her to be grounded in one piece and light on her feet in the next. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy BalletX.

Hitting the gym: Every other day, she spends an hour at the gym. “As a female dancer, I use my lower half more than my upper half," so workouts aim to even out her whole body. After a warm-up on the elliptical, she does arm exercises with lightweight dumbbells, pull-ups, a kettle-bell twist for her obliques, reps on various arm machines and ab work on a mat, before foam-rolling her IT band. The routine may sound exhausting, but Yorita carefully gauges her energy and adjusts her workout if she's feeling fatigued.

Having his back: “I'm a small dancer, so I usually end up getting lifted. I want to strengthen my arms so if I'm in a weird position, I can help my partner." That means paying special attention to her lats, triceps and deltoids at the gym. Her cross-training has another benefit: Building support in her upper back has helped alleviate low-back pain.

Chilling out: Whenever she's doing heavy pointework, Yorita winds down by rolling out the bottoms of her feet with a small ball and soaking her ankles in a 20-minute ice bath. “That's really helped me keep inflammation down and my ankles feeling good."

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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