Is Your Pre-Show Ritual Uninspired? Take A Cue From These 12 Pros
But pre-show routines are also highly individual, and involve artists preparing their heads for performance just as much as their bodies. That could mean anything from listening to a favorite song, bonding with cast members or meditating.
Feeling like your pre-show ritual could use a bit of inspiration? These 12 pros shared their tried-and-true routines with us:
Choreographer and Entrepreneur Jacob Jonas
Miami City Ballet's Nathalia Arja
Dancer and Choreographer Emma Portner
The Washington Ballet's Ashley Murphy
Dancer and Choreographer Ephrat Asherie
Pacific Northwest Ballet's Leta Biasucci
"For roles that are accompanied by nerves, I like to find time before a performance to spend visualizing the piece. I close my eyes and imagine how the 'perfect' performance would feel. I find this practice to be meditative and allows for me to feel more excited than nervous.
"Not necessarily a ritual, but I have to double-check my performance shoe ribbons and re-sew ones that look like they might possibly come unsewn. Who wants to spend a show worrying about shoes falling off?"
Martha Graham Dance Company's PeiJu Chien-Pott
"I usually arrive at the theater much earlier than the call time. I set up my dressing room to create a feels-like-home space. I do my makeup and hair while I listen to some calm music. And right before I get onstage, I meditate for five minutes and 'talk' to Martha. Finally, I give the stage a kiss."
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Hope Boykin
"My most important ritual is prayer. I simply ask that the audience will see the most honest artist in me. Despite the frustrations, feelings, aches and pains I may be experiencing, I long for the best performance to resonate in the hearts of those watching."
Dancer and Choreographer Caleb Teicher
"I usually improvise to a couple songs by myself to get some creative juices flowing. Then, I try to find some quiet time so that listening to music onstage feels fresh and focused. I may eat some gummy bears, too."
Ballet Dancer Joy Womack
Dutch National Ballet's Michaela DePrince
Choreographer James Alsop
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.