What Dancers Eat: Beatriz Stix-Brunell's Daily Diet
"I'm better at dancing than cooking," Beatriz Stix-Brunell admits. A first soloist at The Royal Ballet, the New York City native largely relies on London's burgeoning food scene for major meals.
One exception: her lucky performance dish, a straightforward pasta recipe with prosciutto. "I make it the night before and bring it to the opera house," she says. "It's the perfect mixture of carbs and protein before a big show that requires long-lasting energy. And it also makes me feel like a chef!"
Stix-Brunell in Wayne McGregor's Chroma. Photo by Bill Cooper, courtesy ROH
Breakfast: Two chai tea bags in steaming soy milk and a large bowl of porridge at a coffeehouse on her way to the opera house
Lunch: "I go straight from company class to rehearsal, so lunch is on the fly. I usually run downstairs to the Royal Opera House canteen. I like their baked harissa chicken thighs and cauliflower curry."
Midday snack: A banana and a spoonful of extra-crunchy peanut butter
Supplement: Stix-Brunell stocks her dance bag with SiS Go Electrolyte gels and powder sachets, provided by The Royal Ballet's famed health-care suite. The supplements are meant to provide a quick carbohydrate boost and aid in fluid absorption, helping to stave off dehydration. "They're amazing fuel for long days and difficult roles that require fast-acting energy," she says.
Pre-performance: "If I have a tough evening performance, I'll eat a substantial meal at 2 pm." Typically, it's her penne pasta.
Bea's "Green Beanie" Pre-Performance Penne Pasta
- 1 lb. whole-wheat penne
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 slices prosciutto, chopped into small ribbons
- 1/2 cup Pecorino cheese
- 3 bunches arugula, chopped into large pieces
- 1 tbsp. black pepper, freshly ground
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes).
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a small, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat; add oil and prosciutto and cook until crispy, then remove pan from heat.
- Drain pasta, but keep a little pasta water on the side.
- Transfer penne to a large serving bowl, then add Pecorino and toss, gradually adding leftover water to loosen up the pasta as needed.
- Add prosciutto, fresh arugula and black pepper. Toss well to combine.
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"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.