April Day is celebrating her 16th season with The Joffrey Ballet. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.

Joffrey Ballet Star April Daly's Conditioning Tips and Post-Show Recovery Secrets

Joffrey Ballet Star April Daly shares how she stays conditioned throughout the season—and makes her summers intense.


Sweet 16

This fall marks April Daly's 16th season with The Joffrey Ballet. "Every year I learn more and more," she says of how she conditions and cares for her body. For example, two years ago, a disc issue in her lower back reinforced the importance of core strength. "I'm a jumper," she says, "so I realized even more that you have to have a strong core and stabilize the back muscles to cushion the impact when you're jumping."


Cardio and conditioning

With Fabrice Calmels in Christopher Wheeldon's Continuum. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.

Daly's cross-training is diverse, including everything from elliptical workouts for stamina to Pilates mat and reformer exercises for her core. She also does Gyrotonic and a variety of exercises she's learned in physical therapy. You'll often find her in the studio doing stability work on a BOSU ball or upper-body toning with a Thera-Band.

Favorite gym class

Daly is hooked on a group fitness class called yoga sculpt, which incorporates light hand weights with yoga sequences for a mix of strengthening and stretching. "You feel like you're getting a complete workout," she says. And it's a nice counterpart to ballet: "We're so used to turning out all the time, so it's good to revisit the parallel positions."

These boots aren't made for walking

With Miguel Blanco in Swan Lake. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.

The Joffrey recently added compression boots to its therapy equipment. "They've become a new part of my regimen in the theater," says Daly. Before and after performances, she'll recline for about 15 minutes while wearing the long boots, which inflate with air and provide pulsing pressure to the legs and feet. "They relax my legs, but not to the point that I can't dance." And, she says, they even cut down on post-show soreness.

Summer study for the pros

Daly often spends summers in Florida, training with renowned Cuban teacher Magaly Suárez, alongside professional dancers from other companies. "It's incredible to have a fresh pair of eyes," says Daly. During the regular season, she tends to approach company class as a warm-up for rehearsals, but over the summer, class is like a boot camp. "She's on you from the second you do your first plié. She brings you back to the basics," says Daly. "I'm dying by the end of barre, but I don't have a six-hour day afterwards, so I can really put my all into it."

Her Post-Show Wind-Down

With Miguel Blanco in Swan Lake. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.

  • compression boots at the theater
  • a meal, ranging from a bowl of pasta to a cheese plate depending on how hungry she is
  • a hot bath at home
  • an ice bath for her calves and feet to rejuvenate them for the next day
  • a movie

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