Ballet Stars

ABT's Kathryn Boren Shares Her Pre-Performance Warm-Up Routine

Kathryn Boren dancing Giselle with Ballet Frontier of Texas. Photo by Chung Lin Tseng, Courtesy Boren.

As the marathon of American Ballet Theatre's eight-week Met season comes to a close, we caught up with corps dancer Kathryn Boren to talk to her about about the importance of warming up properly before a show. After four years with the company, Boren has her pre-performance routine down to a T.

What do you do before a show?

I always take a hot shower just to start the day over and get really warm, really fast. Then I put on my makeup and get my hair ready. At 6:40 I start doing a full, basic barre and core work; I feel like it's the only way I can get back to feeling centered and know what my body is capable of doing. I'll work in my pointe shoes for one or two exercises. Then it's 15 minutes till curtain, and I have to get in my costume and get onstage.


How long did it take to get this routine down?

It took about a year of performing regularly. I danced with ABT II [now the ABT Studio Company] and then I moved to Germany to join Stattsballett Berlin. When I was first performing I'd give myself like an hour and a half warm up, and then I'd be exhausted before the show. I slowly figured out what I could cut, and now I don't mess with it.

How do you structure your barre?

I do a lot of tendus and dégagés and articulating footwork. It's important for me to feel the brush in the floor, because it's very easy for me to be too up in my body, so I want to feel grounded. I also do a lot of balances; I hold a balance after every combination to find my center, which I think is really the main reason why we warm up.

What's your core work regimen?

I start my morning with a pretty extensive core routine that sets me up for the whole day, but then right before a show, just to find it again, I'll hold a plank for two minutes and do three sets of 15 push-ups. We have an ab roller in the girls' dressing room, so if I have a little extra time I'll pull that out.

Do you listen to music while you warm up?

Yes! I always have my wireless headphones in.

What's on your pre-show playlist right now?

There's a lot of country. I grew up in Texas, so sometimes I feel nostalgic. And then I have Milky Chance and ODESZA and alt-J and some more alternative stuff.

Do you have any advice for dancers on how to manage their time before a show?

Always give yourself more time than you think. There's nothing worse than feeling rushed or anxious, and that's what makes you frazzled onstage. It may seem annoying or tedious, but it's so much better to have that extra cushion.

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