Collado with Connor Walsh in Jiří Kylián's "Wings of Wax." Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

Houston Ballet's Jessica Collado Shares Her Cross-Training Tips

Morning zinger: Jessica Collado makes a pitcher of a spicy drink with turmeric, ginger, lemon juice, coconut water and cayenne pepper at the start of each week. “It's the first thing I drink when I get up. It's good for my body and wakes up my mind."

For her turnout: Twice a week, Collado finds an empty studio and does a floor barre DVD before company class. “I don't have flat turnout," she says, “but doing exercises lying down has helped my hips open up in a more natural way."


Bugging out: Collado does 10 slow reps of what she calls the “dead bug" to warm up her core before morning class and afternoon rehearsals, and at the end of the day. She'll lie on her back with knees in a tabletop position and arms bent in front of her so that her forearms are parallel to her body. Then she'll extend the opposite leg and arm toward the floor and switch sides. The challenge, she says, is making sure that her abs don't “bread loaf" out.

Collado in Christopher Bruce's "Intimate Pages." Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

A tricky transition: Collado's shoulder blades don't always track correctly, and that can pose a challenge, especially with Houston's varied rep. “Sometimes we'll go from a modern piece one hour into a Giselle rehearsal the next," she says, and checking her alignment helps prevent injury. Simple Thera-Band exercises—like holding a band in both hands and opening towards second position with her elbows against her torso—allow her to switch gears quickly.

Staying balanced: At least once a week, Collado takes a Pilates class on the reformer and Cadillac. “Ballet tends to make you one-sided, but Pilates helps realign my body and get me back to an even playing field." Each class, she focuses on something different, like shoulder placement, turnout or stretching her quads.

Top priority: No rehearsal day is complete without 10 to 15 minutes of stretching. She works on her lower back, a chronically tight spot, as well as the front of her hips. “It's the last thing I want to do 'cause I'm exhausted and usually hungry, but it really helps my body let go of tension so that I feel better starting my next day."

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks