Healthy Dancer Summer Feature
Where do you dance?
Principal Soloist with Miami City Ballet
Share a bit about your journey in dance…
MCB is the third company I’ve danced with. Originally from Orlando, FL, I moved to NYC at age 15 to train at SAB. A year later I was asked to join New York City Ballet, where I danced for 2 years. That was a little too much for me too soon, so at 18 I choose to go to college at Indiana University. I graduated with a BS in Ballet Performance with an outside field in Kinesiology. From there I joined Pennsylvania Ballet, where I danced for 9 seasons and became a principal dancer.
What’s a challenge you’ve faced in pursuing dance professionally?
My body and being “in shape”. I am naturally very broad and muscular and when I’m not dancing a lot, I don’t always fit the ballerina body aesthetic. I got my first “fat talk” when I was 15 and my most recent when I was 32, so has always been a struggle.
How did you overcome it?
I never fully overcame it, but have tried to find balance and peace with my body. When I was younger, I resorted to unhealthy means to try to achieve the “perfect” body, but after breaking my foot I realized how unsustainable that was.
Studying nutrition, anatomy and physiology in college helped me gain a better understanding and as I get older in this career, I never take my body for granted. During long lay offs, I just have to be more aware of how I’m fueling myself and stay active even if not dancing everyday.
What does it mean to you to be a “whole” dancer?
To be strong and confident. Though I will never look as thin as most of the other dancers onstage, I take pride in my strength and power that come across in my performances.
Do you have any special self-care rituals that help you feel balanced?
Yoga and gyrotonics are both good for my mind, body and soul and I try to fit them in once a week. I also love unwinding with a face mask and essential oil diffuser.
What role does cross-training play in your life?
Cross-training as become even more important to me at this stage of my career than ever. Pilates and weight training have helped with injury prevention and cardio to keep my stamina up for shows. When on lay offs, I try to change up what I do everyday to not get in a rut and stay motivated.
How do you keep a positive relationship with food and your body in the face of aesthetic pressure in dance?
It is very difficult and some days are harder than others. Staring at a mirror 6 hours a day can do numbers on how you perceive yourself, but I try to remember how fortunate I am that I have a strong body that enables me to dance and do what I love. With food, I try to think of it as the fuel needed to perform and how it makes my body feel.
Dances at a Gathering by Daniel Azouley
The Four Temperaments by Alexander Iziliaev
Diamonds by April Singleton