Salvatto rehearsing in the DTH studios. Photo by Quinn Wharton, Courtesy Pointe.
Gabrielle Salvatto doesn’t let a moment go to waste. She sees every day as an opportunity to get stronger, and even keeps a Pilates reformer in her New York City apartment. Salvatto landed her position with Dance Theatre of Harlem in 2011 after training at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, the School of American Ballet, Juilliard and DTH’s professional training program. Now she alternates grueling tours with intensive rehearsal periods in New York, dancing everything from Balanchine to Ailey. She’s also joined the cast of the upcoming TV series “Flesh and Bone.” Never one to slow down, the 25-year-old Bronx native relishes her breakneck schedule.
Working Around Problem Spots
Although she routinely tops six-hour workdays, six days a week, Salvatto doesn’t rest on the seventh—she cross-trains. “Once you stop, you realize how sore you are,” says Salvatto. “So I always exercise once a day.” To prevent overexertion, Salvatto keeps her off-day routine simple. Instead of going full-out with cardio, Salvatto does reps on her in-home Pilates reformer, using her own body and the resistance of the machine instead of weights to create a slow burn. She also stretches and strengthens problem areas with gentle floor exercises.
A day off can be a great time to work the muscles surrounding an injury, she says, particularly her right psoas, which has troubled Salvatto since her teens. “Even when I’m not in pain, I gently work my hamstrings and gluteus medius,” she says. Practicing a simple preventative routine can ward off future problems. “Having strong hamstrings helps compensate for my psoas when it does flare up,” Salvatto explains. That way, she can dance hard the rest of the week—which is just the way she likes it.
Salvatto has been a pescatarian for two and a half years. “As long as it’s fresh, I always order fish—especially on tour.” Side effects: none. “Not eating meat hasn’t affected my dancing.”
Gabrielle’s Simple Exercise for Psoas Relief
Salvatto loves the versatility of this exercise, which engages the abs as well as the gluteus medius and hamstrings to take pressure off the psoas. Even when she’s not dealing with injury, it’s a go-to for keeping her body warm.
• Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor about hip-width apart.
• Keeping the rest of the body still, use your abdominals to lift one leg, creating a gentle flexion at the hip until the knee hits 90 degrees.
• Gently replace the raised knee, concentrating on creating a smooth, even journey to the floor.
• Continue this basic “marching” step, alternating legs.
• Then, lift your pelvis off the ground into a bridge position, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your supporting knee. Continue alternating legs.
Above photo by Jayme Thornton, modeled by Nicole Larson of Marymount Manhattan College.