Kathleen Breen Combes Talks Touring

Boston Ballet is about to take off for England for a six-performance run at the London Coliseum next week. To show off the company's range, the dancers will be performing Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun, Balanchine’s Serenade and Symphony in Three Movements, resident choreographer Jorma Elo’s Plan to B, Forsythe’s The Second Detail,  Wheeldon’s Polyphonia and Kylián’s Bella Figura. How does a dancer prepare for such an intense program overseas? Principal Kathleen Breen Combes gave Pointe a peek inside her process.

 

What are you most looking forward to about the London tour?

Getting to dance in London for the first time! It's a huge hub for dance media and I'm excited to show them what Boston Ballet has to offer.


How are you preparing?
 

Physically, it's been intense. We've had a long season and I'm trying to stay in top shape without getting injured. Also, we're bringing quite a diverse repertoire, and it's tricky on the body to switch back and forth so frequently. But I'm doing what I would for any other hard program: Preparing as much as I can, so I can let go on stage.

 

Do you have any airplane tricks? 

Compression socks are a must-have. I learned that the hard way: I once landed in Korea with ankles that looked like elephants! I spent the night with my feet in ice buckets and prayed they would fit into pointe shoes the next day.

 

What's the most challenging part of performing on a new stage?

It's so interesting how you get used to dancing on a particular stage. A new theater takes some adjusting. I try to get on stage before the first rehearsal to get a feel for the floor and lights. A lot of it is mental; I try to not focus on what is different. Usually you only have that one rehearsal, so you don't want to waste it worrying about things you can't change!

 

What's your least favorite part of touring?

Checking into the hotel with 60+ people after traveling for hours!

 

Best part?

Getting to experience new audiences and their reactions to what we do. It reenergizes the dancers as a group, and we come home a stronger company because of it. Plus, I get to travel to wonderful places and experience different cultures. It's a lot of work—but also a lot of fun.

 

 

Health & Body
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I have very tapered Morton's toes (longer second toes). My big toe joints are about a half centimeter shorter than my second and third toe joints, so I have a terrible time finding stability on demi-pointe. My weight lands on that second toe joint, which is pretty narrow and uncomfortable under that pressure. How can I find a more stable relevé? —Larissa

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Ballet dancers today are asked to do more with their bodies than ever before. The physical demands of a ballet career can take an immense toll on a dancer's joints and muscles—subjecting them to pain, inflammation and an increased risk of injury. Considering all that is required of today's dancers, having a top-notch recovery regime is paramount.

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