Health & Body

Morning Moves: How 5 Professional Dancers Start Their Day

image via Foodiesfeed

The way you start your morning can set the tone for the rest of the day. Establishing a productive and mindful morning routine can leave you feeling relaxed, grounded, and ready to take on the day ahead, no matter how busy.

We asked five professional dancers to share what they like to do each morning to prepare themselves for the happiest and healthiest day possible.


Be Early

Jermel Johnson, principal dancer at Pennsylvania Ballet, makes sure he gets himself to the studio an hour before company class begins. "This is the time I use to work out any kinks and soreness from the day before and give each muscle attention," Johnson says. "I've been doing this for about 15 years now and I really can't imagine not having my body warm and ready to go beforehand." Johnson has a two hour commute from his home to the PA Ballet studios each morning, so strong coffee is a necessity.

Jam It Out

Kim Gingras, a commercial dancer based in L.A., loves waking herself up to fun music. "I'll dance around for a song or two just to get myself in a great mood," she says. Meditation is also a vital part of Gingras' morning routine. "Just a few minutes of it can make a big difference. You owe it to yourself to get centered and set an empowering intention for your day." And she never misses breakfast.

Think Positively

image via STOMP official site

Desmond Howard, a cast member of STOMP in New York City, swears by morning affirmations to get in a positive mindset. "More times than not I wake up happy, but there are those days that I can feel the pressure of those irritating parts of life," Howard says. "To get myself out of that headspace, I pray and speak positive and assuring affirmations to myself to not allow that way of thinking to take over." He sticks to the same food groups each morning: fruit and grains.

Drink Up

Naomi C. Walley, who recently made her Broadway debut in Chicago, prioritizes drinking tons of water. "I try to get down about a liter of water before ingesting anything else to make up for the time overnight when my body was dehydrated," she says. "This gets my system back to a balanced state." Herbal supplements, green tea or coffee, and some type of carb for breakfast are also on Walley's morning roster.

Practice Gratitude

Michael Montgomery, a dancer with Alonzo King LINES Ballet, wakes up with a good cup of coffee and upbeat music. He uses his mornings to express gratitude for his life as a professional dancer. "I remind myself that this is my passion, my career, and that I am so lucky to be where I am," he says. "It helps me have a positive attitude."

The Conversation
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)

Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.

Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.

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Health & Body
Getty Images

I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.

I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.

That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?

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