Three Pro Dancers with Unique (and Hardcore) Cross-Training Routines
Courtesy AQUA Studio NY
As a dancer, cross-training is a non-negotiable aspect of staying healthy. But sometimes the prospect of another dreary gym session is…less than inspiring. Banish boredom and take a cue from these three pros—a ballet dancer, a modern dancer and a Broadway performer—who shake up their cross-training with unusual activities. We asked Kendall Alway, DPT, a physical therapist who runs SF Performing Arts Physical Therapy and is the associate director of the ODC Healthy Dancers' Clinic in San Francisco, CA, to weigh in on the effectiveness of each method. Look no further for exciting cross-training regimens that can keep your dancer body challenged, balanced and injury-free.
Megan LeCrone, New York City Ballet soloist
Method: Aqua Cycling
When LeCrone sustained a neck injury, she turned to aqua cycling's low-impact training to help her get back on her feet. The unique class is like spinning—with restorative and high-intensity options—transported to a swimming pool. “The bikes are submerged," says LeCrone, “and the water temperature is very inviting. Your upper torso, head, neck and arms are out of the water. I could only use my body in a way that didn't cause strain, and when you're in the water you feel weightless."
That weightlessness, or buoyancy, reduces impact on your joints. “When high-intensity interval training is done in water, it's associated with fewer injuries. Aqua cycling should be very helpful for cross-training," Alway says
Courtesy Nico Gallegos
Rebecca Dean, member of BANDALOOP
BANDALOOP dancers regularly rappel down buildings, bridges and cliffs as part of the company's vertical choreography, so Dean has learned to be ready for anything. She cross-trains her focus by practicing archery. “I go to an outdoor range in the redwoods above Oakland, CA," she says. “I didn't expect to stick with it, but it's grounding, requiring deep breaths and clarity." She recommends archery as a method to connect your mind and body. Alway agrees: “Practicing archery has been shown to increase mental focus," she says. “As archers become more skilled, they require less and less of their brain to shoot accurately. You could say this is better concentration and centering." That connection may be an especially important skill for remaining injury-free.
Sarrah Strimel, former An American in Paris ensemble member
Method: Paddleboard yoga
When Strimel performs on a repetitive eight-show-a-week schedule, she needs to even herself out through stretching and strengthening. If it's warm enough, she combines her passions for yoga and surfing into the perfect outlet: paddleboard yoga.
“It's exactly what it sounds like," Strimel says. “You take a paddleboard out on calm water, and in low-wind conditions, and then you do a series of postures on the board." The board adds an element of instability, turning even the simplest pose into a core-scorcher.
“Studies have found that yoga is especially helpful at improving core stability when it's combined with other stabilization exercises," Alway says.
That added effort means your paddleboard might feel more like a wobble board. “Don't be afraid of the water," Strimel says, “because you'll definitely fall in! You really need to use your center, even to do a downward-facing-dog pose."
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?