Health & Body

Steal These Nutcracker Survival Strategies

Kretzschmar as Sugarplum Fairy. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB

Nutcracker season starts today at many ballet companies, including New York City Ballet. For corps members like Claire Kretzschmar, that means an always demanding schedule reaches a whole new level of busy. Here's how she keeps herself going.

Kretzschmar in the Coffee variation. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB.


• At night: A hearty meal, a good night's sleep, the occasional ice bath for her feet and time to relax. "I like to read a little bit and have tea before bed. It can take me two or three hours to calm down after a show," she says.

• In the morning: Exercises to stabilize her core and hips, and breakfast while listening to a podcast and answering emails. "I find it calming to be a little productive and connect with the world."

• Pre-curtain: "I like to have a lot of time, so I normally have a snack and start getting ready with hair and makeup two hours before I have to dance."

• After the show: "I take this phrase from the TV show 'Parks and Recreation': Treat yo' self. That's one of my key phrases for heavy seasons. For me that means preparing a nice meal and having a treat after dinner, whether it's something healthier that I've baked myself or bought from my favorite bakery." Kretzschmar loves anything sweet: cakes, cookies, pies, brownies, you name it.

News
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

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.

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Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

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At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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