Jennifer Stahl's blog

The amount of thought that goes into dancers’ daily habits seems nuts. But we can't help it: The stakes are high when everything from what you snack on to how you clip your toenails affects your performance. In Pointe's April/May issue, we went inside the routines of six dancers to find out their secret obsessions.

The "bad boy" of ballet is at it again: Sergei Polunin seems to have walked out on rehearsals for Peter Schauffuss's highly-anticipated London production of Midnight Express. For those who have been following the 23-year-old dancer's career, his latest move isn't surprising. He abandoned The Royal Ballet last January just a week before he was supposed to star in The Dream. Polunin has since worked with the Stanislavsky Ballet in Moscow and he guested with The Royal last month.

"Mad Men" returns this Sunday, and with it everyone's favorite female copy chief: Peggy Olson. One thing you probably didn't know: Before she was playing Peggy, actress Elisabeth Moss was an aspiring ballet dancer. She started taking lessons at age 5, and in her teens she attended the School of American Ballet in New York and spent summers at Suzanne Farrell's intensive in DC. “I trained for a long time and I was focused and good," Moss recently told Arrive magazine.

Miami City Ballet just signed a new dancer: former major league baseball catcher Mike Piazza. The  company has been loving sports stars recently. In February, they teamed up with the Miami Heat. Now, Piazza will take the stage with MCB on May 3 in Balanchine's Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. The baseball legend—who played with the Dodgers, the Marlins, the Mets, the Padres and the A's—won't be doing any grand jetés, though.

This blog could easily turn into a daily feed of fashion-meets-ballet news and nothing else. Don't worry, I won't let that happen. But indulge me just once more this week, because I can't help sharing this photo that David Hallberg just posted of his fashion spread in this month's Vogue.

It seems like the catwalk has become a sort of second stage for dancers these days. The latest ballerinas moonlighting as runway models are Miami City Ballet's Callie Manning, Suzanne Limbrunner and Adriana Pierce. The three dancers made their fashion debut last Friday while showcasing Palm Beach County-based designer Robin Fleming's DUCHESA couture collection for Miami Fashion Week.

Fruit can be a difficult snack to pack in a dance bag—one wrong squish and juice gets all over your pointe shoes.

 

Have you gotten your April/May issue of Pointe yet? Click on the photo at right for an exclusive sneak peek. It's an outtake from Jim Lafferty's photo essay, which chronicles Ballet West, Nevada Ballet Theatre and Pacific Northwest Ballet's historic shared production of George Balanchine's Jewels. Lafferty captured the dancers backstage: warming up in company class, soaring in performance. The result is a kind of magical series of intimate images. Keep your eyes peeled for the full feature.

Need a quick workout on the go? Download Yogify, a free app for the iPhone or iPad produced by EA Sports. It comes with five sample classes ranging from 15 to 45 minutes long, beginner to advanced level—plus the option to purchase up to 40 additional classes. Although it's not the same as having a live teacher in the room, the program makes everything super clear. Before you even start the video, you can preview the series of poses with a step-by-step list of pictures (including tips on how to perform each correctly). Best of all?

Want to improve your turnout? Of course you do. (What ballet dancer wouldn't?) Check out this excellent clip of movement guru Irene Dowd explaining two exercises that can help you increase your outward rotation. Dowd, a longtime faculty member at Juilliard and author of the iconic kinesiology book, Taking Root to Fly, uses imagery and anatomical concepts to help dancers find more stability and ease of movement.