Our dancers are back to the studio – and to peak performance shape – after summer break. Here, five company members share the healthy habits that keep them en pointe through eight-hour dance days.
Julia Erickson, principal dancer
“Dancers have to stretch as a practice, obviously, but it’s also important to work out the kinks that remain even once you feel “stretched out.” I would call it opening up areas of connective tissue tension. For example, I use these things called Yamuna balls, which are little half domes that you stand on. You put them on various points on your foot and stand on them for a total of, maybe, five minutes. It basically helps release things throughout your entire body. It becomes a part of your practice. It’s really easy and it becomes very empowering. I think a lot of chronic health issues show up as a result of neglect. The more you can open stuff up and release little things that are habitually bound down – you’re caring for yourself. Just like anything else – with diet, with saving money – it’s incremental change. It becomes addictive because you realize how good it is for you and how much better you feel once you do it.”
Alexandra Kochis, principal dancer
“I think that one of my most important healthy daily regimes is the simple act of getting out, getting moving and getting sweating at least once everyday. Taking morning ballet class is the starting point of most of my days and the hour and a half of introspective time reserved solely for me to focus on my own body and my connectedness to it is a luxury for which I am incredibly grateful. On the days when I don’t get out and do something that gets my blood pumping, I feel just a little less present. And, though sometimes it takes a bit of cajoling to get up the motivation to take that hike or get to the pool, I always feel glad that I did and my body and outlook on life are the better for it.”
Luca Sbrizzi, principal dancer
“I’m one of those dancers that is constantly thinking about how to recover quicker, feel less sore, release tight muscles – in the studio but especially at home. I have dozens of recovery tools from balls, rollers, massagers, etc. But there is one that I always come back to. It’s called a yantra mat. It’s an acupressure mat. It was a Christmas gift from a former PBT dancer. It became a staple during my long and stressful back injury and recovery. And I still use it consistently. Not only does it help me with back pain, but it reduces stress, improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. It’s truly a wonder. I noticed that if I lay on it for just 10 minutes it will actually give me a boost of energy, but if I lay on it for 30-40 minutes it will relax me like nothing else will. It’s slightly painful to use at first, but once you pass that stage you will notice amazing results.”
Joanna Schmidt, corps de ballet dancer
“Maintaining good posture is easy to forget about but, as a dancer, it’s a necessity. I remember as a student, my ballet teachers would walk by me and pull my shoulders back even when I wasn’t in class. I try to think about the way I carry myself even when I’m not dancing. Having good posture takes pressure off of your bones and ligaments, engages and tones your abdominals, and it’s even been proven to put you in a better mood! Of course I slouch sometimes, but then I think of how great Audrey Hepburn always looked and I’m motivated again.”
Cooper Verona, corps de ballet dancer
“There are so many workout and diet theories out there; it’s confusing! And we all just want to be told the absolute perfect thing we can do. That’s not gonna happen. So, I think the one thing people can learn from dancers is to listen to their own bodies more. Knowledge of how your body works helps a ton, but common sense usually prevails. Also, drink lots of water. Seriously, it’s the cure to everything. And no one drinks enough.”
Interested in more tips for training like a dancer? Sign up for a PBT School Community Division ballet, conditioning or dance fitness class today!