The Best Cross-Training for Dancers, According to 12 of Your Faves
Today, dancers are cross-training more than ever. And though there are some recommendations about what types of cross-training might be best for dancers' bodies, ultimately it comes down to what works for you.
We asked 13 pros about their go-to cross-training routines as part of our "Spotlight" series—and each one of them has a totally different approach:
Martha Graham Dance Company's PeiJu Chien-Pott
The Washington Ballet's Ashley Murphy
Miami City Ballet's Nathalia Arja
Tap Dancer and Choreographer Caleb Teicher
"I've started rock climbing/bouldering at Brooklyn Boulders in the last year, and I love it. It's intelligent movement, strength training and problem solving rolled into one. Beyond that, social swing dancing, independent practice in a dance studio and yoga/Pilates when I can."
Biasucci in Jerome Robbins' In the Night.
Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.
"When my schedule is pretty busy, I stick to yoga and light free weights. When my schedule isn't too heavy, I, like any good Pacific Northwesterner, love to hike. But after a long week, miles of elevation sounds like the last thing that I want to do! There is really no substitute for dancing to get in dancing shape."
B-Girl and Choreographer Ephrat Asherie
"Dancing for hours to music by my favorite DJs. That really helps my stamina and breathing. In terms of something more regimented, I have a set of breaking drills that build technique in a way that has sustained me for years."
Pennsylvania Ballet's Sterling Baca
Jamar Roberts in Talley Beatty's Stack-Up.
Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy Ailey
Van Patten in Romeo and Juliet
Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB
Commercial Choreographer James Alsop
Boston Ballet's Joy Womack
Contemporary Choreographer Jacob Jonas
"In the summers, I swim a mile in the ocean every Saturday morning. During the rest of the year, I enjoy going to the gym, weight training and playing basketball. Basketball is especially fun for me as it has the same physical demand as dance without the creative expectations."
We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.
But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
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:
It's a much-repeated part of Francesca Hayward's origin story that she discovered ballet at age 3, when her grandparents bought a video of The Nutcracker to keep her occupied and she immediately started dancing around the room. What's less well-known is that there was another video lined up next to The Nutcracker that Hayward liked to dance along to: Cats. "I really just did the White Cat bit and fast-forwarded the rest," she remembers. "I'd make my friends who came around be the other cats."
Twenty-four years later, she's not only become a Royal Ballet principal, but has been cast as Victoria the White Cat in Tom Hooper's new movie adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, out in theaters on December 20. "I remember the director telling me I'd got the part: 'Just to let you know you're the lead in a Hollywood film,' he said." Hayward laughs. "This is crazy!"
"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.