Elle Macy in Benjamin Millepied's Appassionata. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Soloist Elle Macy Was Once Fearful of Cross-Training

Cross-training misconceptions: Before Elle Macy became an apprentice with Pacific Northwest Ballet, she was apprehensive about cross-training. "I was warned that it might bulk you, or not to do certain activities because they could potentially injure you." But a stress fracture in her foot changed her perspective. Unable to bear much weight, Macy reluctantly tried stationary biking at her physical therapist's suggestion. "What I learned is that you're not going to get injured from being on an elliptical for 20 minutes or by taking a Pilates class," says Macy. Today, it's not uncommon to find the soloist training on the elliptical, doing ankle stability exercises, using the Pilates reformer or taking a hot yoga class.


Blue circular boards with metal pieces sticking out of them.

Two BAPS boards. Gary Tucker, Courtesy PNB.

Favorite tool: Macy's ankle ligaments are loose because of past sprains. To strengthen the surrounding muscles and prevent injury, she does standing exercises on a BAPS board daily. Short for "biomechanical ankle platform system," the round board has an uneven rocker bottom, and weights can be placed at different spots around the board to further challenge balance and proprioception. Checking in with her ankles also preps Macy for PNB's varied rep. "We go from pointe shoes to socks to flat shoes to tennis shoes sometimes, so it's nice to have that stability intact."

How she starts her day: Macy arrives at the studio an hour before class starts. "Today, I saw our PT—my ankles were kind of jammed, so he helped me get them in the right place." Her daily warm-up includes stability work on the BAPS board, clamshells for her glutes, core strengtheners and TheraBand exercises. If she has an afternoon break, she'll hop on a reformer in PNB's Pilates room to reset between rehearsals. "It's a nice way to do some exercises without exerting too much energy," she says.

Macy onstage in a dark background wearing a black leotard costume and pointe shoes. One leg is extended in a kind of attitude behind her.

Macy in David Dawson's Empire Noir. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

The magic number: "If a ballet's 20 minutes long, on a day that I'm not running it, I try to do the elliptical for that long," says Macy. If she needs to build more stamina, sometimes she'll do a run-through and a full elliptical session on the same day—but she's mindful of not overdoing it. "You don't want to peak too soon or be so exhausted that you don't end up performing as well."

Macy's workout advice: Use the buddy system. If she's in the gym or taking a yoga class, Macy trains with a friend to hold herself accountable. She often trades exercises with her boyfriend, fellow PNB soloist Dylan Wald. "Doing it with somebody else makes it more fun—and ensures that you're going to do it."

The Recovery Trick She Swears By

Salt spills out of a wooden spoon on a white background

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Epsom salt baths. "Getting in the warm water with the Epsom salts and the bubbles and the candles, it takes the weight of the day off, and rejuvenates the muscles to take on the next day."

When She Has Preshow Jitters

White headphones on white background

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"I try to get as Zen as possible. I'll lie down and just find my breath. I remind myself that it's just like a regular day, I've rehearsed enough and I'm ready to do it. I'll listen to music to make that busy-ness in my brain slow down." Her favorites? Broadway show tunes, Florence + The Machine, Adele, Sam Smith and Robyn.

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Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names to learn more!

Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami City Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

Juha Mustonen, Courtesy Finnish National Ballet

Val Caniparoli Pulled Zoom All-Nighters For His Upcoming Premiere at Finnish National Ballet

Back in April, it seemed like everyone in the performing arts was either coping with company shutdowns or watching future work evaporate before their eyes. As seasons were canceled or pushed off into the unknown future, choreographer Val Caniparoli took a deep breath and focused on a glimmer of hope: Finnish National Ballet had commissioned him to develop a full-length Jekyll & Hyde, and was determined to move forward with its November world premiere. So, Caniparoli hunkered down in his apartment while honing his vision at all hours to build this psychological thriller into a reality.

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When Sir Frederick Ashton premiered Thaïs Pas de Deux, a duet set to the "Méditation" interlude from Jules Massenet's opera Thaïs, the ballet was immediately acclaimed as one of his masterpieces, despite the fact that it is only a few minutes long. In this clip from 2008, Lucia Lacarra and Cyril Pierre, then principals of the Bavarian State Ballet, give a tender, enchanting performance that is six-and-a-half minutes of pure beauty.

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