This story originally appeared in the August/September 2014 issue of Pointe.
It's not uncommon for a dancer to be dedicated to her cross-training routine, but Pennsylvania Ballet corps member Holly Lynn Fusco goes the extra mile—or two. During layoffs and summer breaks she takes a train to New York City for Gyrotonic classes. And when PAB is in season, she taps her Gyrotonic training to keep her body supple yet strong.
Fusco started intensive training in Gyrotonic when she was a student at Miami City Ballet School. "Since the movements are circular, it helps me utilize all my back muscles," she says. Now, Gyrokinesis exercises are part of her daily pre-class routine.
Since Fusco's back tends to be tight, she builds flexibility and strength with this exercise: Lie facedown on the floor with your hands underneath your forehead, and legs and feet together. Slowly lift your head and arms up as far as you can and hold for 10 counts. Repeat 15 times. "A lot of dancers are concerned with warming up their legs, but your upper body is almost more important. It's how you carry yourself," she says.
To prepare to dance at the high elevation of Vail, CO, where the company toured this summer, Fusco used the elliptical or a stationary bike for hour-long cardio workouts three times a week. "Russian Girl in Serenade is very strenuous—even right here in Philly."
"I just overcame a hip injury, so my rotating discs are my best friend." Fusco stands in parallel with one foot on each disc and slowly lowers into a plié, rotates into turnout and then straightens her knees. "The goal is not to let the discs move when you straighten. This activates the front of the hips and glutes.
A Strong Start
Every morning begins with a bagel with cream cheese and homemade juice. "I'm obsessed with juicing and try to stick to solid colors," says Fusco. "Anything that's green can go in at the same time." The result: "It gives me the energy I need to get through class rather than just having coffee and crashing in an hour." Fusco also brings her juice to work, so she can sip on it all day.
Favorite Rehearsal Fuel
She loves pumpkin seeds for a midday snack. "Sometimes I roast them with garlic and salt."