Rehearsal Fuel

July 24, 2016


Three pros share their snacking strategies.

Class, rehearsal, more rehearsal, performance: Professional dancers rarely stop moving. To make it through, breakfast, lunch and dinner often aren’t enough. Strategic snacking can help to keep your energy high, your mind sharp and your body responsive.

Saunders in William Forsythe’s Quintett. Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Hubbard Street

Penny Saunders

Dancer and choreographer,
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago


“I’m notorious for having a plethora of snacks in my bag! I always have a protein bar, some kind of trail mix, something salty—crackers, chips, turkey jerky—and a banana or some other fruit to round it out so I don’t feel guilty about eating salty stuff or chocolate all day!”

Go-to bar:
“Think Thin. It tastes like a candy bar. I shoot for at least 10 grams of protein, if not 20.”

Community effort:
“I started a tradition of bringing a gigantic bucket of cheesy puffballs to the theater! We eat maybe three-quarters of this tub over the four days we spend at the theater in a given run.”

“If you only have five minutes before a run-through, eat something light or nothing at all. If you have another 20 minutes, or if it’s a slow start-and-stop rehearsal, have something that’s going to keep you from getting hungry.”

Long in Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante. Leigh-Ann Esty, Courtesy MCB

Jordan-Elizabeth Long

Soloist, Miami City Ballet

“When I’m doing a hard ballet, I have to start with an egg for breakfast. Throughout the rehearsal day I like bananas because they stick with me.”

Go-to bar:

“Larabars—any flavor, I eat them all!”

Bringing Europe back:

“I eat a lot of little things throughout the day. I began my career at Royal Swedish Ballet, and in Sweden, there is a tradition to have a fika mid-morning before lunch—when you have a coffee and a small sweet. You don’t need to wait until lunch and be drained.”

Schultz in Graham’s Errand into the Maze. rigid Pierce, Courtesy MGDC.

Ben Schultz

Principal, Martha Graham Dance Company

“I try to get as much protein as I can. I keep egg white protein powder in my bag pretty much all the time, and I bring almonds, bananas, grapes and sometimes chocolate if I feel like I need more sugar.”

Balancing act:

“In the Graham company, especially for the men, you need a pretty good muscle build. I’m constantly feeding the muscles, but in a way that I can still dance insane work without getting sick to my stomach—Graham contractions and abdominal work are just not pleasant with a heavy stomach.”

Guilty pleasure:

“On long plane rides my system will start to crash because it needs food every two or three hours, but busting out a protein bar isn’t a lot of fun. So I’ll eat a Snickers bar, because it’s basically a protein bar when you look at the calorie count and protein intake—and it’s yummy.”