Having danced everywhere from Ballet Hispanico to the Metropolitan Opera to an Angelina Ballerina: The Musical tour, New York City–based freelancer Elizabeth Yilmaz has to keep her body ready for any challenges thrown her way.

Favorite Workout: Kayaking on the Hudson. “It’s a great upper-body strengthener. I don’t even realize the workout I’m getting until afterward when it’s like, Oh, my arms!”

Working Through Downtime: “My roommate’s also a dancer, so whenever we watch TV, we roll out our ankles with the Thera-Band or do crunches on the exercise ball. Our foam roller is my calves’ and quads’ best friend.”

Biggest Challenge: Flexibility. “I’ve found the best time to stretch is during the 15 minutes after class: You’re warm, limber and aligned, so you can really feel your lines and work your extension.”

Non-Ballet Classes: “I take everything: hip hop, tap, jazz in high heels—I don’t want any style to hold me back at auditions. I really like company rep classes, especially the one Parsons Dance gives.”

On Tour: “If a hotel has a pool, I’ll stand with the water at chest height and do a modified barre. The water gives you nice resistance.”

Mental Reset:
“New York is a loud city. When I’m running from class to rehearsal to auditions, yoga gives me time to stop, let things settle and meditate on what I want my day to be.” 

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Francesca Hayward (center) in Cats (courtesy NBCUniversal)

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Rachel Neville, Courtesy Audition Dancewear

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Sponsored by The Rock School
From left: Sarah Lapointe, Derek Dunn and Jeanette Kakareka. Courtesy The Rock School

For more than five decades, The Rock School for Dance Education has been launching young dancers into professional ballet careers around the globe. Boasting distinguished alumni such as Beckanne Sisk, Michaela DePrince and Taylor Stanley, the Philadelphia-based institution has garnered a well-deserved reputation for pairing rigorous training with a tight-knit, welcoming community. Their summer intensives are no different, with a wealth of prestigious faculty members, many of whom are Rock School alums currently dancing at companies around the world.

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