Stella Abrera in Romeo and Juliet. John Grigaitis, Courtesy ABT.

ABT Principal Stella Abrera Shares Her Best Agility Training Tips

This American Ballet Theatre principal has jump training down to a science.


Jump To It 

Abrera in Harlequinade. Erin Baiano, Courtesy ABT.

If you're preparing for a role with a lot of jumping, consider stealing a page from Stella Abrera's cross-training regimen. The American Ballet Theatre principal focuses on agility the month leading up to allegro-heavy performances. "I start off easily, with low reps and low intensity," she says, adding difficulty as the weeks go on. To warm up, she alternates five minutes on the elliptical with one minute of jumping rope to build stamina. Then, she draws an imaginary line on the ground and repeatedly hops over it in parallel, side to side and front to back.

​ Power Up

"To target the upper leg and help strengthen takeoff and landing, I do box jumps," says Abrera. She'll do 10 reps of the following: from a small, parallel second position, she jumps onto a foot-tall wooden box—"taller if I'm getting stronger"—holds the deep plié landing there for a few seconds, then steps down to avoid the impact of hopping off the box. She incorporates the series into a circuit of exercises, which she switches up depending on the other areas she's conditioning that day. "I have quite an arsenal, a variety of exercises, that I use to target body parts that need extra strengthening or engagement."

Core Stability

Abrera with James Whiteside in Jessica Lang's Her Notes. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

Strong abdominals are integral to Abrera's dancing, especially after she suffered a serious back injury 10 years ago. "I do a core stabilization workout almost every day," she says, mentioning a physio ball as her go-to prop. From a plank position with her hands on the floor and feet on the ball, she does exercises like piking up with straight legs or drawing her knees toward her chest to strengthen her abs and the front of her body.

On the Flip Side

Abrera also uses the physio ball to condition her back, hamstrings and glutes. She'll lie on her back, rest her calves and ankles on the ball, and lift into a series of bridge variations.

​ Balanced Body

Abrera in Whipped Cream. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

Despite Abrera's rigorous rehearsal and conditioning schedule, she doesn't sacrifice self-care. "I try to get a massage once a week. If the schedule is really crazy, I'll get two."

In the Kitchen

Getty Images

"I try to eat as healthily as possible. Not a lot of refined carbohydrates and a good balance of proteins and vegetables." For a homemade winter meal, Abrera roasts chicken thighs with garlic, lemon slices and butternut squash and pairs it with a small salad.

Rehearsal Fuel

During packed rehearsal days, Abrera brings small snacks to keep herself nourished throughout the afternoon. "I love sugar, but if I eat too much of it or don't balance it well with protein, I have a really horrible crash an hour later." Her favorites include:

  • nuts
  • cheese
  • apples
  • banana with almond butter
  • yogurt with granola
  • RXBARs

Latest Posts


Getty Images

How Can I Stay Motivated While Training at Home?

Ethan Ahuero was having a good year: he was in his first season dancing with Kansas City Ballet II and had been presented with the opportunity to choreograph on the second company. "The day before we shut down I had a rehearsal, and I was so happy," Ahuero says. "The piece was coming together and this was the first time I felt really proud of my creative process."

Suddenly, the coronavirus pandemic brought everything to a halt. With the company's season cut short and the studios closed, Ahuero found himself attempting to continue dancing from home, with his choreography project put on hold. Like many other dancers around the world, Ahuero is dealing with disappointment while struggling to stay motivated.

Keeping up with daily ballet classes may feel difficult right now; inspiration can seem hard to come by when you're following along on Zoom and short on space at home. Below are a few simple tips for finding new ways to stay motivated.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Courtesy Goh Academy

Pro-Pro Priorities: The Top Skills to Focus on During Your Final Training Years

As told to Rachel Caldwell

Finding the right pre-professional training program can be daunting. Then once you're there, what should you focus on in order to succeed? To shine some light on the topic, we talked to five leading teachers and directors who have seen scores of students move on to flourishing ballet careers. Here's what they suggested for young dancers on the pre-professional track.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/21/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks