Ballet Stars

How Madeline DeVries Stays Strong and Limber for Alonzo King's Work

Madeline DeVries cultivates strength and fluidity for Alonzo King's works. Photo by Stacy Ebstyne, Courtesy LINES.

Madeline DeVries, of Alonzo King LINES Ballet, starts her days with a bike ride or strength work.

Warm-up on wheels: Madeline DeVries' commute doubles as a workout. Two or three days a week, the Alonzo King LINES Ballet dancer bikes about seven miles through San Francisco to the studio. "The hardest part is going through Golden Gate Park. There's one uphill section that's always killer," she says. She arrives ready to dance and likes how biking warms up her knees.


When she doesn't cycle: Before class, DeVries does yoga stretches and core exercises. "Alonzo's work is a balance of being really strong and also limber," she says. Her favorites include downward dog, cat/cow and a crescent-moon lunge for her psoas, plus variations on bridges and planks. To fire up her whole body, she starts on all fours with a neutral pelvis and lifts her knees so she's hovering a few inches above the ground as her pelvis curls under. "You're fully pulling up on your lower abdominals and pressing the fingers into the floor."

Added bonus: "The work itself puts you in shape too," says DeVries of King's athletic style. "There's a lot of twisting and extreme positions, and it can move very fast." When she joined in 2014 after dancing with companies like Dresden Semperoper Ballett and Whim W'Him, DeVries says she was strong. But she soon found different muscles that she had to learn to activate quickly. "It was vital to constantly keep up with those strength exercises."

Madeline DeVries Photo by RJ Muna, Courtesy LINES.

Recovery strategies: After strenuous rehearsals or performances, DeVries says Epsom-salt baths are key. On tour, "we always try to ask for hotel rooms with bathtubs," she says. She also works with a physical therapist and chiropractor, and swears by Thai massage. "They stretch you while they massage."

Cross-training the mind: In the studio, DeVries says, "you have to be vulnerable and ready to share a lot." To mentally prepare, she makes time to unplug and practices being fully present, whether that's praying, meditating or watching a sunset on the beach after rehearsal.

Softball for hard spots: DeVries rolls on a softball to release her psoas and glutes. If she doesn't have the ball, she'll simply use the floor to massage her sitz bones.

Fueling at Home and on the Road

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LINES spends roughly half the year on national and international tours, so DeVries has learned to adjust her diet accordingly.

In San Francisco—Morning: English muffin with avocado and a fried egg

Midday: LINES' lunch break is quick, so DeVries has a salad or eats snacks throughout the day, like a chocolate mint CLIF Builder's Protein bar and a green juice or Greek yogurt.

Night: Roasted vegetables over sweet potatoes or rice. After a show, she likes to grab a burger and fries.

On Tour—Morning: Breakfast at the hotel, like eggs, yogurt, fruit and orange juice. "It's always hard to try to not eat all the croissants."

Midday: Portable snacks or bars. "Last time, I brought as many bars as I could, but they go fast. We'll find health food stores to restock."

Night: Dinner out with the company

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