A hard day’s life

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. 

Steven McRae Principal Dancer at the Royal Ballet) stretching

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 Royal Ballet morning class in full – World Ballet Day 2018

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.

The Nutcracker in rehearsal 2016 (The Royal Ballet)

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!!!

Rehearsal of the Birmingham Royal Ballet

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

My favorite Ballet Photos

which one do you like the most?

Prima Ballerina Iana Salenko

Photo by ballerinaproject in Royal Opera House London

Rainer Krenstetter in Maurice Béjart „Ring um den Ring“

Photo by Staatsballett Berlin
Polina Semionova with her little babyboy
Photo on Instagram at polinasemionovaofficial

Katja Wünsche and William Moore in Christian Spuck’s „Anna Karenina“

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Juliet Doherty at St. Monica Beach

Photo by ballerinaproject

Steven McRae as Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland

Photo  by Tim P. Whitby, gettyimages

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Photo by Andrew Eccles

Ballet and City Serie

Photo by Vladimor Chikin

Polina Semionova and Vladimir Malakhov in L’après-midi du faun by Staatsballett Berlin

Photo by Staatsballett Berlin

4 Ballerinas in „Wonderland“ – Washington Ballet

Photo by Cade Martin

Dancing with a broken foot – is it even possible?

Interview with Valentino Zucchetti, First Soloist in Royal Ballet London

What does a ballet dancer do when he breaks his foot mid-performance? Accept calamity? Or just carry on regardless?

I was lucky to talk to Valentino about his major injury in his debut of Espada on Don Quixote. Hear more about the swaggering Espada in Carlos Acosta’s celebrated production Don Quixote.

Weiterlesen „Dancing with a broken foot – is it even possible?“

My favourite Drosselmeyers……

are without question Li Cunxin and Dominik Slavkovský.

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Li Cunxin with Queensland Ballet photo by David Kelly

Magic happened when Ballet Star Li Cunxin, was lured out of 18 years retirement for a special performance of the NUTCRACKER with the Queensland Ballet. Taking to the stage in Brisbane for one night only, the 56 year old dancer delivered a mesmerizing performance. While Drosselmeyer is predominately a character role, Li incorporated his own choreography – adding pirouettes and jumps to the performance. His twists and turns hinted at his past brilliance.

Weiterlesen „My favourite Drosselmeyers……“

How pointe shoes are made

The secret inside of pointe shoes    

No, they are not made out of wood, and there is no steel in the flat tip! The tip is made of densely packed layers of fabric, cardboard and/or paper hardened by glue. Being extremely sturdy makes it possible to balance the entire weight of the ballerina’s body on a small platform. The rest of the shoe consist of materials such as leather, cotton and satin. The right and the left shoe are identical.

Weiterlesen „How pointe shoes are made“

What’s the word for a male „ballerina“?

Ballerino – sounds funny or not? 

Ballerino doesn’t sound perfect to me. It seems difficult to find the perfect name, but I googled it and found various terms for male ballet dancers around the globe. In Italy a male dancer is called a ballerino. In France, it’s Danseur. In the English speaking world, boys or men who dance classical ballet are usually referred to as male ballet dancers or just dancers. Weiterlesen „What’s the word for a male „ballerina“?“

The Quantum Ballerina

Congratulations to Merritt Moore for Making FORBES „30 under30“

WOW! What an achievement. Not only has Merritt Moore made it onto the Forbes list this year, but she is also the one and only active ballerina with a PhD in quantum physics from Oxford University!

Merritt shared her secrets as a physicist on pointe – “I really do think it’s made me a better dancer to have done physics and a better physicist to have done dance. You need the creative brain in the lab to think of new ideas, and you need the analytic brain in the dance studio to figure out your center of mass.”

I was lucky to get an interview with her. So enjoy these five questions for the Quantum Ballerina!

Weiterlesen „The Quantum Ballerina“