Gymspiration: What Drives Principal Lillian DiPiazza's Workouts
Lillian DiPiazza knows how to prioritize. This May, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in urban studies, having squeezed in coursework while dancing full-time as a celebrated principal at Pennsylvania Ballet. But even when college and her career compounded to make her busiest, she still took time to take care of her body by cross-training.
How does she do it?
Motivation #1: The Quest To Be Injury-Free
In David Dawson's The Third Light. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev
Two years ago, DiPiazza got a stress fracture in her lumbar spine. "That was a warning sign that I needed to be doing different types of exercises outside of ballet," she says.
She started practicing a 15-minute series of core stabilizers every morning and night, and during any break in the rehearsal day. "They look like you're doing nothing, but they're actually very effective!" For example: Lying on her back with her feet flat on the floor, she lets one knee slowly fall to the side, then brings it back up without moving her center or hips.
Her favorite new tool is the Parasetter Minis. These blocks, invented by physical therapist Marika Molnar, keep dancers from gripping the floor with their toes. "I do anything from squats to bridges with my feet on these to add an extra challenge."
Motivation #2: A Workout She Loves
The DiPiazza siblings at swim practice
Growing up in a family of swimmers, DiPiazza was on a summer swim team from age 8 to 17. Today, she loves swimming's recovery effects as much as its no-impact, endurance-building benefits: "I always feel stretched-out and lengthened afterwards." She practices all four competitive strokes about twice a week. "When you're learning a new contemporary work, it's good to have challenged your body by doing different things." Her routine:
1. Warm up with 200 meters of freestyle without stopping.
2. Cycle through 50 meters each of freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly. Repeat for 25 minutes.
3. If she wants a harder workout, some laps might be sprints.
4. For extra core work, she'll lie on her back with her hands over her head and together (like an arrow) and propel herself with a butterfly kick.
Motivation #3: A Good-Looking Gym Buddy
DiPiazza and her favorite gym buddy. Photo via Instagram
DiPiazza makes a point to visit the gym three or four times a week. "It helps to have a gym buddy," she admits. Her boyfriend—who's a doctor by day and an enthusiastic surfer in his time off—helps motivate her. If she doesn't head to the pool, they'll hit the weight room together. DiPiazza follows celebrity trainers like Kirk Myers on Instagram to find new strength-training exercises, then modifies the resistance to make the movement safe for her body if necessary. "I like to mix it up."
Where can you watch Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Le Corsaire all in one place? Hint: It also has extra-buttery popcorn.
Yep, it's your local movie theater. Starting this weekend, theaters across the country will be showing Bolshoi Ballet productions of classical and contemporary story ballets.
The dancers file into an audition room. They are given a number and asked to wait for registration to finish before the audition starts. At the end of the room, behind a table and a computer (and probably a number of mobile devices), there I sit, doing audio tests and updating the audition schedule as the room fills up with candidates. The dancers, more nervous than they need to be, see me, typing, perhaps teasing my colleagues, almost certainly with a coffee cup at my side.
When commercial dancer Danielle Peazer took on an ambassadorial role with Reebok in early 2016, she didn't realize the gig would also lead to a career shift. But while traveling with and teaching workshops for the brand, the idea for DDM (Danielle's Dance Method) Collective started to take shape.
Last night, American Ballet Theatre held its annual Fall Gala at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City. To celebrate ABT's artistic director Kevin McKenzie's 25 years of leadership, dancers from ABT's company, apprentices, studio company members and students from the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School took to the stage in Jessica Lang's The Gift, Alexei Ratmansky's Songs of Bukovina and Christopher Wheeldon's Thirteen Diversions.
But we also love a good behind-the-scenes glimpse—especially when designer gowns are involved. And the dancers gave us plenty of glam looks to obsess over once the curtains closed. Ahead, see our favorite moments from gala straight from the dancers.
Last week Ballet West breezed into New York City's Joyce Theater from Salt Lake City. The dancers are excellent—especially the women (what else is new). The company brought five pieces including works by Gerald Arpino, Val Caniparoli and resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte.
Arpino's last work, made in 2004, is a duet called RUTH, Ricordi per Due ("remembrance for two"). It's about a man haunted by the memory of the woman he loved. Christopher Ruud is strong and sensitive as the man, and Arolyn Williams is riveting as the ghost of his beloved.
Val Caniparoli energizes his dancers with juicy movement, and always sticks to his theme. (He doesn't ramble, and let's face it, long rambling choreography is a problem these days.) In his premiere for Ballet West, Dances for Lou, he takes on the music of Lou Harrison, a composer known for his Eastern sounds and rhythms.
Photo by Filip VanRoe, courtesy Marquee
Your Saturday nights are about to go from "Netflix and chill" to "Marquee and chill." (Okay, maybe we'll need to coin a new phrase).
But seriously, the new streaming app Marquee Arts TV lets you curl up with Bolshoi Ballet's Swan Lake, Sylvie Guillem dancing Mats Ek's solo Bye, a dance film by Cullberg Ballet called 40 M Under, or a documentary about Alonzo King and LINES Ballet. Marquee unlocks a world of digital arts: dance, theater, opera, music, documentaries and film shorts that you can stream directly to your TV or mobile device.
When Simone Forti moved from California to New York City in 1960, she brought with her the improvisational approach of Anna Halprin. As one of the first five students in Robert Dunn's John Cage–inspired composition course (that led to Judson Dance Theater), she was a magnet for two others in that class: Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton. This month the three reunite for Tea for Three, an evening of moving and talking at Danspace Project, Oct. 26–28. It's a chance to see how dance mavericks grow and change and mellow. Forti will also give "Body Mind World" workshops Oct. 19–20. danspaceproject.org.
When you're dancing for what feels like eight days a week, it takes more than just stretching to put your body back in order. You need a good rub down. Unfortunately, most of us don't exactly have the money to afford an on-call personal masseuse.
The solution: Self-massage, with foam rollers, lacrosse balls, elbows and anything else that can help loosen up your muscles. We dug into Dance Magazine's archives to find the best pieces of advice we've published on the topic. Follow these rules to get what you, ahem, knead out of self-massage.