Inside PT

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.”

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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Site Network
Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

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Ballet Stars
Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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