Nayara Lopez in The Nutcracker's snow scene. Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet.

Pennsylvania Ballet's Nayara Lopes Works Out So She Can Have More Fun Onstage

Many workouts, one goal: When Nayara Lopes is asked what she does to cross-train, there's no short answer. Some days she swims laps; other days she takes yoga. And then there are her elliptical sessions, strength-training with light weights and Pilates classes. Why does she work so hard outside of the studio? "Because I want to feel good onstage," she says. "There's nothing better than going out there and having fun and knowing you're gonna get through it." Thanks to her cardio routine, stamina isn't an issue. "When I'm onstage, I feel ready for anything."


Lopez in George Balanchine's "Emeralds"

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy PAB


Catching up: Lopes didn't learn to swim until she was 23. "I went to a party and everybody knew how to swim except me." Instead of being deterred, she took two weeks of lessons when she returned to her native Brazil that summer.

Finding balance: Her current aerobic workouts consist of swimming laps or 30 minutes on the elliptical. "I used to spend an hour, but I was always so tired," she says. She developed a stress reaction in her left foot during a period of heavy corps work mixed with too much time on the elliptical. Scaling back and swapping in some swimming has reduced the impact on her joints, helping to keep her foot injury at bay.

Lopez as Dewdrop in The Nutcracker

Arian Molina Soca, Courtesy PAB

Abs anywhere: "I do planks. A lot of them," says Lopes. "Before rehearsal, before starting class—I'm always doing two minutes." When her rehearsal schedule allows, she also joins students at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet for their weekly Pilates mat class.

Going from 60 to 0: "I like to go full-on in everything I do," says Lopes, so that means a day off truly is a day off. "I literally just stay home on the couch and try not to do anything." Sometimes that means turning down plans with friends, but she says it's especially important to recharge during lengthy performance runs.

Matthew Henry via Burst

Snacks on Snacks on Snacks... "That's the secret: I'm always eating," says Lopes. "People say that I'm the strongest vegetarian that they know." She packs her diet with protein-rich snacks, like hard-boiled eggs, hummus and peanut butter, and favorite veggies, like broccoli, spinach and eggplant.

...And Carbs! "I don't prevent myself from eating anything," says the self-professed pizza and pasta lover. "I need the energy—I don't just want to be teeny and fit and not be able to jump. I want to be a powerhouse, as well."

Latest Posts


Getty Images

The History of Pointe Shoes: The Landmark Moments That Made Ballet's Signature Shoe What It Is Today

Pointe shoes, with their ability to elevate a dancer both literally and metaphorically to a superhuman realm, are the ultimate symbol of a ballerina's ethereality and hard work. For students, receiving a first pair of pointe shoes is a rite of passage. The shoes carry an almost mystical allure: They're an endless source of lore and ritual, with tips, tricks and stories passed down over generations.

The history of pointe shoes reveals how a delicately darned slipper introduced in the 1820s has transformed into a technical tool that offers dancers the utmost freedom onstage today.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
La'Toya Princess Jackson, Courtesy MoBBallet

Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Revisiting Pointe's Past Cover Stars: Adji Cissoko (August/September 2011)

We revisited some of Pointe's past cover stars for their take on how life—and ballet—has changed.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks