Ballet Stars

The National Ballet of Canada's Emma Hawes Cross-Trains on All Terrains (Plus, Her Shoulder Strengthening Secret)

Long and strong: National Ballet of Canada's Emma Hawes. Sian Richards, Courtesy NBoC.

National Ballet of Canada corps member Emma Hawes isn't afraid to admit her weaknesses, like loose shoulder joints—because she knows just how to overcome them. After successfully recovering from a fractured metatarsal last year, her current cross-training regimen—swimming, Pilates and biking outdoors—is all about building strength to prevent future injuries and keep her body in peak performance shape.


Just keep swimming: During her childhood, Hawes swam competitively. Now she goes once or twice weekly. Her favorite stroke? Freestyle, which strengthens her loose shoulder joints and equally works her left and right sides, helping to correct muscular imbalances from dance. Then she treads water, running in place for 60-second muscle-burning bursts, resting for 20 seconds and repeating it all three to four more times.

In the deep end: Hawes caps off each swim with “typical barre stretches" in the water. “If I want a tougher stretch, I go deeper in the pool." Facing the pool's wall, she places one leg en devant, with her heel on the ledge, and bends her chest toward it. “It's really great for the glutes, where I get a lot of tightness."

Can't miss cardio: For Hawes, daily aerobic exercise is nonnegotiable. She favors 30 minutes of intervals on the elliptical, alternating one minute of going all out with two minutes of medium intensity.

Sian Richards, Courtesy NBoC

Rise and shine: National Ballet of Canada offers its dancers morning Pilates mat classes twice a week. Hawes says it's a great way to get on her leg before class, but if it's a busy week, playing Pilates hooky can do her body more good. “It's early in the morning, so sometimes sleep can be more valuable."

Planking 2.0: For Hawes, planking is much more than an abdominal exercise. With her elbows and forearms on the ground, she goes through several variations of the classic plank for two to two and a half minutes, like lifting the opposite leg and arm and circling them simultaneously. (“It's really tough," she says. “I fall over a lot.") Then with both arms on the ground, she'll lift one leg to tendu back, carry it to the side and then back again to “trigger the turnout."

The great outdoors: During summer layoffs, she visits her family in Ohio, taking advantage of the hilly terrain for long bike rides. “I don't usually do too much ballet-focused work in my off time, but I keep my overall fitness and cardio levels up."

Viral Videos

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with Ballet West soloist Chelsea Keefer to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. Keefer offers lots of darning tips, and shares all of the unusual ways that she uses rosin.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

Keep reading... Show less
News
Dane Shitagi, Courtesy Chronicle Books

Earlier this year, we shared that photographer Dane Shitagi's Ballerina Project—his gorgeous, ongoing collection of dance photos that have dominated our Instagram feeds for years—would be coming to an end. But all is not lost—starting September 17, you can enjoy over 170 of these photographs in Ballerina Project, a stunning new book showcasing Shitagi's work.

Keep reading... Show less
News
From left: Kathryn Posin Dance Company members Daniel White, Claire Mazza and Momchil Mladenov in Evolution: The Letters of Charles Darwin. Nan Melville, Courtesy Posin.

Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution might not seem like a natural fit for the ballet stage. But that's exactly the topic of one of choreographer Kathryn Posin's three new ballets, scheduled to premiere at New York City's 92nd Street Y September 13-14.

Keep reading... Show less