Sock walk: As soon as she wakes up, Pazcoguin pulls on compression socks and takes her dog for an hour walk in Central Park. Their heavy elasticity alleviates recurring toe and joint pain in her right foot. “They help increase circulation at the start of the day,” she says.

Creative cooking: Pazcoguin wouldn’t dare skip breakfast. “I would be an absolute grouch and pass out.” She makes her own “breakfast rice” by blending raw cauliflower in her Vitamix and sautéing it. “I’ll add salt, pepper and healthy spices, like turmeric—it’s great for reducing inflammation—and poppy seeds, which also have antioxidants. Then I’ll put an egg on top.”

Therapy on the go: Whether she’s at work, on the road or even out to dinner, Pazcoguin always has her favorite massage tools in her bag. The Thumbby—“basically a silicone mini-cone that mimics a therapist’s thumb”—releases tension in her calves, shins and piriformis (one of the external rotators). Her Stress Buster Massage Ball targets her lower back and thighs.

Pazcoguin in Justin Peck's New Blood (photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB)

Favorite workout: She swears by her Gyrotonic sessions with master teacher Emily Smith. “Not only is she great for building strength in my weak spots, but she fixes a lot of the issues in my body before a PT is needed.” Pazcoguin says Gyrotonic is “super for core strength.”

Always on her mind: Pazcoguin had a Lisfranc injury as a teenager that damaged the joints in her arch and still haunts her. “My entire right midfoot will shift over my big toe, so it’s a constant effort to get it to shift back so there’s support around my fourth and fifth metatarsals.” Aside from therapy and Thera-Band exercises, she also practices engaging her hamstring and turnout muscles, using her leg’s strength to maintain skeletal alignment when her foot gives her trouble.

How she gets through tough ballets: Breathing can be a challenge, says Pazcoguin, “especially when you’re trying to move as fast as these Balanchine roles require.” She applies techniques from singing—she’s appeared in Broadway’s On the Town and with musical theater troupe American Dance Machine for the 21st Century—like slowly compressing, then releasing and reactivating her abdominals. “It’s helping me engage my core in a much different way.”

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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