Rachel Fallon (center). Photo by Victor Frankowski, courtesy HSC

The Self-Care Secrets This Hofesh Shechter Dancer Swears By On Tour

Rachel Fallon's first year with the Hofesh Shechter Company has been spent largely on the road. The company performs frequently, and almost always on tour. "Because we are constantly out of our home setting, I like to have some sort of routine that I can count on," says Fallon. She shares how she stays centered despite the nearly-constant traveling.


Finding Activities That Feel Like Home

Sleep is an important part of that routine—Fallon aims for about eight hours per night and makes sure to wind down before getting in bed. At home, she often relaxes by sewing and making her own clothes. On tour, she enjoys more portable activities. "In a continually changing environment, I find comfort in having my book, TV series or other familiar things close by," says Fallon. She loves Japanese author Haruki Murakami, and most recently read his book Men Without Women. But after a long day, she prefers something light, like an episode of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

Mentally Warming Up and Cooling Down For Shows

To find focus in each new environment, Fallon meditates before each performance. One of her preferred techniques uses a monitored breathing pattern:

  1. Breathe in for four counts.
  2. Hold for four counts.
  3. Release the breath for four counts.
  4. Hold for four more counts before repeating.

Fallon also allows time for a cooldown after each performance. "I often lay down with my legs up on the wall and close my eyes. I like this ritual of acceptance and calmness before continuing on with my day."

Fallon getting ready backstage. Photo by Gary Copeland, courtesy HSC.

Running to Ramp Up After Breaks

After taking a break from dancing during a layoff or holiday, Fallon likes to start getting in shape again by running 20 to 30 minutes every other day. "Starting out slowly helps to build stamina and activate the whole body," she says. "As much as I like to run outside and enjoy the scenery, I prefer to run on a treadmill because there is less impact on my knees."

Fallon prefers the treadmill because she feels its easier on her knees. Photo by Thinkstock

Stocking Up On Healthy Foods

Upon arriving in a new city, Fallon's first order of business is to stock her hotel room with healthy foods in case there are few good options near the theater. Her must-haves include:

  • bananas
  • hummus
  • crackers
  • nuts
  • salad greens
  • "And on tiring days I like to have chocolate close by for a nice boost."
  • Thinkstock

    Centering Her Body With Familiar Exercises

One of Fallon's favorite warm-up exercises for the hips and legs is called Airplane. "It's great for aligning your knee and ankle while also testing your balance," she says.

  1. Stand on a bent leg.
  2. Lower your torso forward into a flat-back position, hands on hips.
  3. Lift your other leg into an attitude position behind you.
  4. Rotate the lifted leg in and out at the hip socket, making sure to reach the full range of motion inward and outward.
  5. Make sure the standing knee stays aligned over the toes.
  6. Do about 15 reps with each leg.

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Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

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Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

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