Mearns rehearses Balanchine's Mozartiana, one of her favorite ballets to perform, with ballet master Lisa Jackson. "It's of a higher power," says Mearns. "It's up there with Serenade and 'Diamonds.' " Kyle Froman.

No Short Cuts: A Day in The Life of New York City Ballet Principal Sara Mearns

How do principal dancers handle their intense schedules? For New York City Ballet star Sara Mearns, honing her instrument is key. The company's Tuesday-through-Sunday workweeks, lengthy performance seasons and extensive repertoire can make for longs days and late nights. "During performance weeks, I think about what I'm doing that night and make sure I don't have a lot during the day—or if I do, I'm smart about it," says Mearns. "You do one or two things full-out and then take it easy so that you perform your best at night."

To keep her body strong and injury-free, Mearns schedules cross-training sessions with former dancer and personal trainer Joel Prouty. "I've had a few back injuries, so we work a lot on making sure my glutes, back and hamstrings are all working together," she says. "It's really important to my regime—I feel like I can get through a day of rehearsing seven ballets."


Even when her NYCB schedule lightens up, Mearns keeps busy with side projects. She recently collaborated with her husband, Broadway choreographer Joshua Bergasse, in a New York City Center Encores! production of I Married An Angel, and she'll perform at a Merce Cunningham centennial event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in April. "I don't overload myself, but I want to stay busy," she says. "My outside projects are really important to me. I want to do a lot of different things at this point in my career."

Pointe spent a rehearsal day with Mearns to see how she does it all.

Mearns wakes up around 9 am. "I'm definitely not a morning person," she says, adding that she doesn't get home until 10:30 or 11 pm on performance nights. "The later I can sleep, the better." Her husband makes a breakfast of smoothies, toast and coffee before Mearns stretches and rolls out her muscles. "I have to be at the theater for class at 10:30, so I like to arrive ready to go."

Forsythe stager Noah Gelber rehearses the company for the NYCB revival of Herman Schmerman. "I've always wanted to work with Forsythe," says Mearns. "He's so great in the studio, and his choreography is really hard. He's asking a lot of me, which I love."

Photography by Kyle Froman

Latest Posts


Laurent Liotardo (post-production by Nik Pate), Courtesy ENB

Catch English National Ballet’s Rising Stars in the Emerging Dancer Competition Livestream

The coronavirus pandemic may have postponed English National Ballet's annual Emerging Dancer competition last spring, but the show must go on—digitally! You can still watch ENB's best and brightest talent during the competition's livestream, taking place on September 22 at 7:20 pm BST (that's 2:20 pm ET). Now in its 11th year, the competition for the Emerging Dancer Award will be broadcast live from the company's East London production studio for the first time. Tickets are available for $6.99 per device and will remain available to view on demand until September 29.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
From left: Alaina Broyles, Courtesy Werner; Courtesy Underwood

Gaynor Minden's Latest Dancer Lineup Features a Body-Positivity Activist and Its First Guy

Pointe shoe brand Gaynor Minden recently welcomed 32 young dancers to its coveted roster of Gaynor Girls. But this year, the company included two applicants who push the boundaries of what it means to dance on pointe. While both Mason Simon Underwood and Colleen Werner are longtime GM wearers, they stand out from the rest of this year's group: Underwood is the first ever Gaynor Guy, and Werner is a body-positivity activist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Dylan Giles, Courtesy Festival Ballet Providence

Festival Ballet Providence's New Leap Year Program Gives Dancers Facing a Gap Year a Place to Grow

A new training program at Festival Ballet Providence called Leap Year is welcoming pre-professional and professional dancers who don't have a studio or company to dance for this season.

The endeavor is the brainchild of Kathleen Breen Combes, FBP's executive and artistic director. "I kept getting these emails of dancers saying they just need a place to train this year," says Combes. "I thought, What if we could provide a space for dancers to get stronger, experiment and try new things in a nonjudgmental and no-pressure environment?"

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks