The Workout

The Workout: Whitney Jensen

When she was a student prodigy scooping up medals at top competitions, Whitney Jensen didn’t have to do much to keep her body in shape. Now, the 21-year-old hits the gym most days—sometimes even after six hours of rehearsal—to build stamina and keep her metabolism in balance.

Typical routine: 45 minutes on the elliptical or treadmill (walking with intervals between 5 and 5.4 miles per hour), then 25 minutes of Pilates. “Having a gym in my apartment building makes it very convenient.”

Warm-up trick: “I never do strengthening exercises before class. They make my body feel too tight before dancing.”

Problem spot: Shoulders. “My joints are really loose, and can get painful during contemporary work. I have to keep my rotator cuffs strong by working them with a Thera-Band.”

Stamina secret:
“To make sure I have enough energy to get through a ballet, I’ll rehearse by running it twice in a row. Then performing it just the once feels like nothing.”

Favorite stretch: Over-splits using a stack of mats.

For her inner thighs: “Lying on the floor on my side, I put one foot on top of a bench and the other underneath it, then raise my lower leg up to meet the top one 10 times. It kills your inner thighs.”

Recovery Rx: “Every night, I talk to someone from my family—it helps remind me I have a life outside of ballet.”

News
Boston Ballet's Kathleen Breen Combes, María Álvarez and Dawn Atkins. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

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Ballet Stars
Alexandra MacDonald (front row, third from left) didn't win a medal at the Genée International Ballet Competition, but says she came home inspired and newly motivated by the people she met there. Photo Courtesy Genée IBC.

Ballet competitions are an exciting part of any dancer's career. Yet while scholarships, prize money, job offers and the prestige that comes with winning a medal are compelling incentives to participate in one, they're not the only benefits. In fact, many dancers who go home empty-handed still look fondly on the experience and go on to become successful professionals.

This week, the 2019 Genée International Ballet Competition kicks off in Toronto. From August 20-29, over 50 dancers, ages 15–19 and trained in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, will perform three solos in the hopes of winning a medal and a $10,000 cash prize. Many past medalists have gone on to illustrious careers—but so have those who didn't win anything. We spoke with three Genée alumni now dancing professionally who know what it's like not to place. Read on to find out why they deem their comp experiences a success, and how you can make the most of yours—whether you win or not.

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Ballet Stars
Skylar Brandt and Josephine Lee. Screenshot Courtesy Lee.

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. We think Brandt might win an award for how long she makes her shoes last; watch the below video for the staggering number of days (or weeks!), and to hear about all of her unique customizations and pro tips.

Courtesy Chiara Valle

Chiara Valle is just one of many dancers heading back to the studio this fall as companies ramp up for the season. But her journey back has been far more difficult than most.

Valle has been a trainee at The Washington Ballet since 2016, starting at the same time as artistic director Julie Kent. But only a few months into her first season there, she started experiencing excruciating pain high up in her femur. "It felt like someone was stabbing me 24/7," she says. Sometimes at night, the pain got so bad that her roommates would bring her dinner to the bathtub.

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