Jackie Nash: Atlanta Ballet
Typical summer break: mid-May–August
On rest: I need to take one solid week, at least, to let all those last bits of the season go. After Nutcracker we push straight through until May, so a lot of little things in my body need to heal, and I want to have some mental space to go over how the season went.
Summer gig: For the past five or six years, I’ve danced with Atlanta Ballet’s 12-member, dancer-run summer company, Wabi Sabi. We start rehearsing three to six hours a day one or two weeks after the season ends, with performances in July and August. I don’t need to do maintenance beyond that because the shows finish close to the beginning of our season.
Taking class: When we’re not working on Wabi Sabi, I either teach or take class during the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education summer intensives to stay in shape.
Nutrition: Because I have more time, I look for new recipes. I love grilling fish outside and having people over for kebabs, getting to be more social.
Branching out: I own a house in East Atlanta with my husband, fellow AB dancer Heath Gill. We like to catch up on gardening, painting and house maintenance things.
Jenelle Figgins: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
Typical summer break: Six weeks total, usually in May and September
On rest: Working 7,900 feet above sea level means that the demand on our bodies is very high. I try to take a couple weeks to rest. My routine is to spend time at a spa here, getting massages and physical therapy, and going to the hot springs and mineral baths in the area.
Cross-training: Later on during the break I start getting physical. Aspen is really special because a lot of social activities are active and outside. A lot of us go hiking in the summer. We also have access to great yoga classes. I need to lengthen and stretch, and I avoid exercise that will make me too tight.
Taking class: We are the only dance studio out here, so it is difficult. We tend to get out of town because Aspen is so small. If I travel on my break, I take classes at home.
Nutrition: I love to cook. On layoff, I have more time to focus on my diet and research how I can turn my food into medicine. Turmeric is good for my mood and is also an anti-inflammatory—right now I am into turmeric-and-blood-orange lemonade.
Branching out: I’m Buddhist, so I like to chant and meditate. I try to “shed” all the stuff in my mind and alternate in self-questioning about how my thoughts and energies are serving dance and my life. It’s a great time for me to let my mind go beyond my job. I’m also continuing to learn with online college courses.
Skylar Campbell: National Ballet of Canada
Typical summer break: Four weeks, dates vary
On rest: Balance is my favorite word and key for any athlete. At the end of the season you are most likely in top dancing shape. Rest is good, but I don’t like to throw it all away, because our layoffs are short.
Cross-training: During the season it can be difficult for me to cross-train. I love to change up my routine during off weeks, because it’s important to keep moving. I do resistance training at the gym and take advantage of swimming. If I have a principal role coming up, focusing on long-term cardio can help. If I go home to California, I am lucky to be able to train at the Pilates studio my parents own in Orange County.
Taking class: For every week I take off, I need just as much time to get back.
Nutrition: The first week, I do a cold-pressed-juice cleanse because I don’t need as much fuel and replenishment. After that I ease back into my regular diet.
Branching out: I try to let my mind out of the ballet bubble. I exert my energy on playing the drums. It is a great outlet when I’m not dancing.
Oren Porterfield: Ballet Austin
Typical summer break: mid-May–August
On rest: I definitely need a week of seeing music shows, drinking beer, eating pizza—real people fun. Austin is a great city for music and my husband is a gigging musician. I have to take a little time away to get perspective before going back to demi, demi, grand.
Cross-training: I can’t do the same thing every day. We’re lucky to have access to a Pilates studio, so we can take group apparatus class and use reformers. I take yoga around town and do it at home with “Yoga with Adriene,” a YouTube channel. I have a gym membership, too.
Taking class: I usually don’t take off of class for more than two weeks.
Nutrition: I am definitely more forgiving of my body standards during layoff. I appreciate being curvier in the summer, which is something I don’t appreciate as much in season. I try not to ever go on a diet—moderation is the best thing. I eat real food, and if I eat food that isn’t so good, I make sure I move more.
Branching out: I have an apothecary line I started a few years ago (ritual-goods.com), and I make essential-oil perfumes and sprays. I do pop-ups. In the summer I have more opportunities to learn more about herbalism and experiment.
Candice Thompson, a former dancer, is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.