Although he's almost as renowned for his physique as for his partnering, the La Scala étoile and American Ballet Theatre principal doesn't believe in going to the gym.

Workout philosophy: “I don't lift weights; I just lift beautiful women."

Pre-class must-do: Planks on his elbows. “I hold the position for a minute, rest for 30 seconds, and then repeat that two more times. It stabilizes my abdominals and back before dancing."

Cool-down:
Bolle spends half an hour stretching his whole body, focusing on his quads, which get tight from jumping, and any other muscles he's worked especially hard. “Over time, you learn that the muscles need to be relieved after dancing, or else you'll feel them the next day."

Secret yogi: Bolle goes to a private teacher in Milan once every couple of weeks when he's there. “Yoga's a different way for dancers to feel our bodies. It stretches our muscles at the same time as strengthening them. And it makes us breathe."

Italy vs. United States: “I think Americans are more focused on fitness and how they look. In Italy, people just want to enjoy life."

Water work: Bolle loves swimming in the pool and doing exercises like cabrioles and multiple entrechats underwater. “It's work, but it's fun because there's no gravity. And I like the feeling of the water on my body." He actually prefers the sea, but only goes when on vacation. “I would love to go in the Italian sea, but I am too well-known there to show up in my suit."

Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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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:

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Ballet Stars
Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

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Ballet Training
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I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

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