For me, hydration is the key to getting through the day. It’s something that was drilled into me at a very young age. Being hydrated keeps your energy up, it stops you from getting cramps in the body… a lot of exhaustion actually comes from poor hydration. And sleep – I’ve mentioned it already but getting the right amount of rest is so important. When I don’t get those eight hours, I always find the day harder to get through. During the day, I also try to enjoy the breaks we have – I make the effort to socialise, chat with people and connect. It energises me.
The whole company normally gets ten days off in January. It’s called ‘mid-season’ and it’s when people try to travel and get some sun (if we can!). It’s pretty much the only extended break we get during the 11-month season. For principals, however, it’s a bit different. This year, I wasn’t able to have the break because my Romeo & Juliet performances were really close together, so I’ll take a bit of time off later. It’s also been harder to take time off in the last couple of years, too, as we’ve been bubbling to ensure we stay safe and can step in for a castmate if someone isn’t able to go on stage. Recently they asked me to step in as Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet last minute – thankfully I’ve danced that role for years, so I knew I could do it.
Correct nutrition also plays a huge part. The way we think about nutrition as dancers, as a company, has come so far in recent years – there’s so much support, knowledge and guidance available to us now, and my own knowledge has expanded significantly as a result. Certain roles – including Romeo – require serious stamina. There’s much more appreciation for what a dancer’s body is capable of now and our company – and the ballet world in general – now embraces all kinds of different body shapes. Some of us are more muscular, others are lean. But good nutrition will help you perform better regardless. Back in the day I used to eat something small before a show and then go home and not eat again. Now, I can’t even fathom not refuelling and nourishing my body after such effort.
Recovery is another necessary part of the process. It’s the key to preventing injury. When I was younger, I fractured my left shin and it just proved how much I had to learn about recovery, nutrition, hydration… all the things we’ve talked about already. I was off for a year and during that time I realised how much I could gain from diving more into the world of health and wellness. In some ways, it really helped me mature as a dancer. Because it was a bone-based injury a lot of my recovery and rehab process came down to enforced rest before working on my calves and glutes to ensure I didn’t put so much pressure on my shin. I’m known for my technique and my jumps, so in order not to lose any of that, it meant going back to basics. It was intense, but quite humbling.