Lunkina and Harrison James rehearsing Wayne McGregor's Genus. Photo by Karolina Kuras, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada

Svetlana Lunkina on Pushing Her Flexibility to the Next Level

National Ballet of Canada principal Svetlana Lunkina shares the choreographer who pushed her to the next level and secrets of her conditioning regimen.

Wayne's world: Despite being naturally limber, when Svetlana Lunkina worked with Wayne McGregor on his incredibly elastic Chroma, the rehearsal process pushed her boundaries. "Wayne told me, 'You are so flexible, but I think you can do more,'" she says. "It was amazing to see how sometimes we think we're at our limit, but we actually could go farther." Since then, she's actively been working on her flexibility.


Steal her swan arms: Lunkina's conditioning regimen incorporates movements from ballet, especially port de bras. "It's very important to exercise the upper body so it feels more natural onstage," she says. When working on her back, she'll do what she calls her Swan Lake exercise: Lying facedown on a mat, she reaches her arms behind her, lifts her upper body as far up as she can and lifts her feet until they kiss her head. Keeping her back extended, she'll twist her torso and arms open to one side as her legs straighten, alternating sides. To finish, she'll slowly articulate her swan arms as her upper body floats down to the mat.

Working out soreness: Lunkina lives by a kernel of wisdom she received from a fellow dancer: When you're extremely sore, keep moving, and tomorrow you'll feel better. "When your body is in pain after so many hours, it's hard to believe that you actually need to do more." If she's exhausted from a rigorous day of dancing, Lunkina combats soreness with basic stretches and gentle strengthening exercises.

Photo by Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC.

Dance is her cardio: For Lunkina, running through a ballet full-out in the studio is a must. "Sometimes I repeat it again and again," she says. Aside from regular company rehearsals, she may even do extra run-throughs on her own. "I like to see how my body reacts and try things when I'm already tired."

Pre-show fuel: Lunkina opts for a hearty meal, usually spaghetti, a salad and fruit. "Nothing spicy. Just very simple and plain," she says.

Before curtain: "I like to be alone to prepare myself emotionally if it's a dramatic ballet," she says. "It's not just about movement." Backstage, she'll go through her regular stretching and strengthening routine and give herself a barre. Then she'll spend some time onstage to get in the right mind-set. "The feeling onstage is very important to me."

Lunkina in "Swan Lake." Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic, Courtesy NBoC.

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
Bill Cooper, Courtesy The Royal Opera House

Pro Pointe Shoe Hacks from Royal Ballet Principal Yasmine Naghdi

Did you know that Royal Ballet principal Yasmine Naghdi's pointe shoes are actually made up of two different models, combined? Below, watch pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee interview Naghdi on all of her pointe shoe hacks, from her anti-slipping tricks to her darning technique.

Syvert Lorenz Garcia in Trey McIntyre's Who Am I Here? Courtesy McIntyre

The Trey McIntyre Project Is Back—And Completely Reimagined

By Nancy Wozny For Dance Magazine

Six years after shuttering his popular dance troupe Trey McIntyre Project, its eponymous founder is relaunching the company as a conduit for digital dance films, with a project called FLTPK. "It's not a company of dancers," McIntyre insists. "It's a community of artists."

In March, McIntyre was ready to premiere his David Bowie ballet Pretty Things, his first new work for Houston Ballet in nearly two decades, when the city shut down. With COVID-19 infections in the New York City area spiking, he decided to stay put.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks