Cross-Train Like David Hallberg: His Stair Running Regimen
While David Hallberg was recovering from Achilles tendinopathy, one of the treatments that the Australian Ballet rehab team gave him was a stair running exercise. "This is an exercise David needs to continue to do forever, every day," says AB's principal physiotherapist Sue Mayes.
The basic idea is to run up and down flights of stairs to the beat of a metronome in order to monitor and challenge the intensity and volume of loading on the Achilles tendon. The exercise simultaneously strengthens the tendon and provides a cardiovascular workout.
Try it: Begin in a gradual way, taking slow steps up and down stairs on a low relevé. The goal is to find a position where the heel is lifted but can remain stable (this may be half the height of your normal relevé). At first, the ankle should not move at all as you take slow steps up and down. Maybe it is only a few stairs, or one flight to start. Eventually, you can add more stairs/flights.
Why use a metronome? Setting a steady beat ensures an uniform pace. "Keeping a consistent pace with a metronome helps both on a cognitive level and to maintain a consistent tendon load," explains Mayes. The tempo should be slow at first, to allow you to control the alignment of your ankle. Gradually, you can increase the speed.
The goal: As you increase speed and the number of stairs over time, you can add more range of motion in your ankle, and the slow steps you have been practicing can develop into more of a bounding type of action up and down.
Hallberg's approach: To keep his Achilles tendon strong and resilient, Hallberg now does this daily, for a 20-minute interval, skipping steps on the ascent to a beat of 165BPM.
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?
"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.
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.
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.