What Dancers Eat

These Photos of Ballerinas Eating Our Favorite Foods Are Making Us Hungry

One of the biggest myths about ballet dancers is that they don't eat. While we all know that, yes, there are those who do struggle with body image issues and eating disorders, most healthy dancers love food—and eat plenty of it to fuel their busy schedules.

Luckily for us, they're not afraid to show it:


New York City Ballet principal Sterling Hyltin sorts her laundry backstage while noshing on a fried chicken finger. Props on her paper towel technique—gotta keep those fingers from getting the costumes greasy!

Believe it or not, burgers can make excellent recovery food after a long day of dancing. Royal Danish Ballet principal Ida Praetorius obviously got the memo.

Sure, she's an Oikos ambassador so she probably got paid to do this. But still, Misty Copeland makes yogurt look so tasty. (If anyone wants to pay us to eat yogurt, we're totally down. Just sayin'.)

Royal Ballet first soloist Melissa Hamilton takes the cake for her birthday with a homemade gluten-free version from fellow dancer Sasha Mukhamedov. It's definitely a celebration with a little Aperol champagne spritz in hand.

The Joffrey Ballet's Victoria Jaiani enjoys her donut almost as much as we're loving this shop's pun. She gets extra kudos for eating in turnout.

We're so here for Pennsylvania Ballet principal Lillian DiPiazza's island-appropriate vacation meal: While relaxing in Turks and Caicos, she enjoys some conch fritters for lunch.

While we don't have proof that they actually ate the whole tub, that's a lot of butter that sisters and former Miami City Ballet dancers Patricia and Jeannette Delgado are sharing with choreographer Justin Peck and Jeannette's husband Andres.

Misa Kuranaga's lunch is homemade by none other than her boss, Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen. In between company-running duties, he took the time to cook up some Japanese ankimo—a specialty dish made with monkfish liver. How's that for rehearsal fuel?

Broadway
The "Merde" bag. Courtesy Scenery

Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.

But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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News
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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Health & Body
Sara Mearns in the gym. Photo by Kyle Froman.

New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.

"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "

She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.

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