A Ballet Dancer’s Schedule
What is Ballet like? When Ballet Lovers think of Ballet, they envision a beautiful ballerina with a white tutu dancing effortlessly in her pointe shoes. BUT this is only a small part of a ballerina’s life. The work they do behind the scenes to perform so effortlessly on stage is tremendous.
So how does a typical day play out?
Most dancers arrive at the dance studio at 9.30am to start a full day of dance and movement. Great performance demands stamina, strength, flexibility and coordination – and that only comes with incredibly long hours in the studio – day in day out.
Most of the dancers arrive before the official class starts at 10am to warm up by themselves. Every ballet dancer has their own rituals to get all their muscles stretched and at that early stage of the day, they work alone. They focus on strengthening the weak parts of their body – all in front of the wall to wall mirrors where they can see every single movement.
The day begins with the morning training – a warm up for all ballet dancers – every single day, 6 days a week. The morning class is based on a series of classic moves – almost all ballet companies in the world do something very similar, including the contemporary dancers. Classic ballet is the key source for all dance movements – its really the ‘bible of dance.
Very intensive training is required to get a beautiful ballerina body – strong but slim but still looking fragile, with long muscles.
The 75 – 90 minutes training has 2 parts:
First up is the warm up at the barre, exercise and stretch, doing plies, tendus, releves, etc strengthening all parts of the body to improve flexibility and coordination. The dancers are always working to improve their basic technique to make every movement perfect.
The second part of training is a full workout with balancing, turns and jumps.
After a 15 minute break the rehearsals start for the upcoming productions. This is to make sure that all dancers are all doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time in exactly the same way. Depending on the cast of the next performance, every dancer has their own schedule to learn the new choreography or improve and fine tune already known ballets. The sessions are led by a ballet master and there is usually live piano accompaniment.
In between the sessions, dancers usually grab a snack – some nuts, a bar or half a sandwich. I’m told that a typical mornings work burns around 600 to 800 calories!!!
Usually the rehearsals last until about 6pm. If a dancer isn’t scheduled to perform, they can enjoy a longer break where they can study a ballet or just sit, stretch and relax.
Depending on their stamina, they may also workout in the gym or do some yoga to get extra strength. As if what they are doing in class isn’t enough!!!
If the dancer has a performance that evening, there are rehearsals and a run through before the show which will finish at about 1.30 pm. The break is so that their muscles can relax before the performance starts. BUT the rest isn’t for too long. Because a 30 minutes warm up is also required 1 hour before the performance.
Photo on Top: The Royal Ballet Full Class – World Ballet Day 2014