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This Joffrey Ballet Dancer Slays Half Marathons—And Says Other Dancers Can, Too
Running is many things to Joffrey Ballet dancer Joanna Wozniak: It's a way she stays in shape during summer layoff, it's a way she builds strength after injury, and it's a way she balances out her body.
"Even though class has motions that are repeated on both sides, when you're dancing in a performance, that's not always the case," says Wozniak, who's been a runner for more than 10 years. "So it's nice to go for a quick run when you have a day off."
She Loves Chicago's Many Road Races
Wozniak says that The Joffrey's home base of Chicago is perfectly suited to runners, with its flat terrain and numerous road races—she's competed in several. In 2010, she ran her first 5K, a benefit race for the animal welfare charity PAWS Chicago; from there, she built up her mileage to 10Ks, and eventually completed two half marathons.
Wozniak shows off her medal after a half-marathon. Photo courtesy The Joffrey Ballet
About That Myth That Running Is Bad For Dancers...
"I've definitely heard that dancers are not supposed to run, but I don't necessarily agree with that," says Wozniak. "If you're intelligent and careful with what you do, you won't injure yourself." In Wozniak's case, that means limiting her longer races to when she's on layoff.
Building running into her routine is also something she does gradually. Whenever she returns to running after a busy stretch of performing, Wozniak starts from a base of two miles once a week. She adds a half mile onto her route each week, topping out at five miles if she isn't training for any races.
"Too much of the time we get this idea that dancers can only dance, and it creates this nonhuman component to dancing," she says. "But we're all just human, and we're capable of doing anything."
Wozniak encourages other dancers not to fear running. Photo by Cheryl Mann, courtesy Joffrey Ballet
How Other Dancers Can Start
For dancers new to running, Wozniak emphasizes not overdoing it. "Start slow," she says. "Pace yourself and start with a few miles, or even one mile. And definitely stretch."
If you're not used to running, start easy. Photo by Noah Silliman/Unsplash
The Mental Strategies Relate Back to Dance
Though Wozniak doesn't run during the most demanding parts of The Joffrey's season—like its 35 annual Nutcracker performances—she adapts mental strategies from running to the stage. When she begins to feel exhausted, she reminds herself of what it feels like to do a half marathon: "The last couple miles are really brutal and crucial, but you just have to find the state of Zen and calm."
The strategy to get through a Nutcracker run isn't all that different from making it to the end of a half-marathon. Photo by Mārtiņš Zemlickis/Unsplash.
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)
Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?
SELF decided to find out.
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.
For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.
But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.
The wait for Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of Petipa's Harlequinade is almost over! But if you can't wait until American Ballet Theatre officially debuts the ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 6, we've got you covered. ABT brought the Harlequinade characters to life (and to the Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY) in a short film by Ezra Hurwitz, and it's a guaranteed to make you laugh.
When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.
Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.
Many choreographers have been defeated by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. However, one dancemaker whose stridency, rhythmic daring and sheer inventiveness could possibly match Stravinsky's is Wayne McGregor. For his first commission from American Ballet Theatre, McGregor has taken on this earth-cracking music in AFTERITE, to premiere at ABT's Spring Gala. Also on the May 21 gala program are excerpts from Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of the comic ballet Harlequinade, the full version of which will premiere next month, and a pièce d'occasion by tapper Michelle Dorrance. May 21–26. abt.org.
If diamonds are a girl's best friend, it's safe to say that faux-diamond earrings are a dancer's best friend. A fixture onstage at just about every competition weekend, these blinged-out baubles are also the surest sign that recital season is upon us again. And what better way to get into the sparkly spirit than by drooling over these 5 diamonds in the rough? (Sorry not sorry!)