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.

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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