Your Best Body: Cross-Continental Training

Texas native Megan Zimny Gray only joined Dutch National Ballet in 2010, but her cross-training philosophy seems deeply European. “I’m not one of those dancers who gets on exercise bikes or treadmills,” says Gray, who was promoted to second soloist this season. “I’d so much rather go to the beach for a swim or just run around and play soccer.”

Go-To Workout: Like any good Amsterdamer, she prefers to ride her bike to work (about 25 minutes each way), but only does it when rehearsals aren’t too heavy.

Problem Spot: Lower legs. “My feet and ankles are weak. I always warm up before class with some sort of footwork, like gripping a small ball with my toes and arch, or trying to balance on a wobble board, which activates all those tiny muscles down there.”

Thera-Band Exercise: Gray ties the band in a loop around the leg of a barre and her ankles, then does two relevé pliés facing in the direction of each number on the face of a clock. “I go around in a complete circle, and with each number I feel the resistance challenging different muscles.”

Appointments: Gray visits the physical therapist up to three times a week for general maintenance. Anywhere from once a week to once a month she sees DNB’s Mensendieck therapist, an alignment specialist who helps dancers move in an anatomically healthy way. And Gray usually books one of the company’s four staff masseuses once a week: “In the U.S., a massage was a luxury; here it’s about prevention. They usually focus on my lower legs, but they’ll do anything I want. It’s amazing.”

Ballet Stars
Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC

It's hard to imagine the National Ballet of Canada without ballerina Greta Hodgkinson. Yet this week NBoC announced that the longtime company star will take her final bow in March, as Marguerite in Sir Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand.

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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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News
Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)

Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of:

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Viral Videos

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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