Secret Health Obsessions

Six dancers confess their quirks.
Published in the April/May 2013 issue.

Rebecca Krohn's health habits include drinking chocolate milk and taking pre-show catnaps. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

By Nancy Wozny and Laura Cappelle

It takes more than training to make a great dancer. What powers those grand jetés? What helps a dancer unwind? Professionals constantly fine-tune their wellness regimens to discover the snack, the roller or hobby that will help them to achieve artistic and technical feats night after night.


REBECCA KROHN
New York City Ballet
Rank: Principal

Power elixir: Low-fat chocolate milk. “I learned about the recuperation powers of chocolate milk from the Olympic athletes. Now it’s my go-to drink after a hard show.”
Pre-performance habit: A 15-minute snooze three hours before show time. “It’s like hitting the restart button: It gives me a moment of peace so I can focus later.”
Go-to meal: Kale salad with brussels sprouts and almonds. “I make a big one to last the week and nibble on it all day long. Kale’s so healthy, full of iron and fiber. And it’s really filling, too.”

ALLISTER MADIN
Paris Opéra Ballet
Rank: Sujet

Go-to breakfast: Two pieces of dark Côte d’Or chocolate with a praline nut center. “I don’t like to eat too much before the day starts.”
Stress relief: Bach Flower Rescue Remedy. “I put a few drops under my tongue to calm down and focus. I use it every year before our internal competition for promotion, which is more stressful than any show.”
Favorite R&R strategy: Using Nexcare cold packs. “I put them on my Achilles tendons for 5 to 20 minutes. It’s the first thing I do in the morning, and I repeat in the evening.”
Power elixir: Starbucks’ Java Chip Frappuccino, with extra chips. “I can’t get through the day without it. I drop by a Starbucks near the Palais Garnier every afternoon for a venti. It’s my daily sugar boost since we have to watch what we eat, and it’s so filling it also calms me down.”

Mental booster: Etiopathy. “I’ve been seeing an etiopath, a type of bonesetter, for four years. He can tell a lot just from someone’s pulse, and he’s articulated things that were unconscious for me. It helps with mental blocks or underlying issues, and it’s like a catalyst—it’s helped me mature.”

LAUREN FADELEY

Pennsylvania Ballet
Rank: Principal

Rehydration treat: Frozen ZICO Chocolate coconut water. “I put one in the freezer overnight. It’s a delicious way to hydrate my body.”
Foot release: Bouncy ball. “It’s a toy, but it does wonders for my big-toe tendon.”
Favorite gadget: Trigger Point Performance Therapy’s The GRID roller. “It looks crazy, a bit like a tire, but it’s great for rolling out the IT band. I don’t go anywhere without it. When in doubt, roll out everything.”
Favorite R&R strategy: “Cuddling with Emmett, my 170-pound English mastiff.”


MEGAN ZIMNY GRAY
Dutch National Ballet
Rank: Second soloist

Go-to breakfast: Oatmeal or porridge with raw hemp seeds and chia seeds. “I’m a vegetarian, so I have to find little ways to get protein. The seeds really help with that, and they keep my energy level up.”
Pre-performance habit: Role-specific mantras. “They depend on the qualities I want to project that night. I don’t share them with anyone; they’re quite personal. But I repeat them to myself to calm my nerves and put my head in the right place.”
Favorite supplements: New Chapter organic multivitamins and vitamin D (to help her body absorb calcium). “Living in Amsterdam, we hardly ever see the sun!”
Recovery sessions: Mensendieck therapy. “Whenever something hurts, our company’s Mensendieck therapist looks at my alignment to figure out why. She analyzes how I’m moving to get to the root of the problem.”

JOSEPH WALSH
Houston Ballet
Rank: Principal

Power elixir: Strawberry kombucha. “I drink it before, after and sometimes during performances. It’s alkaline, which is so good for cell regeneration.”
Recovery sessions: Trigger-point massage. “It manipulates the fascia, which can get in knots from scar tissue. I might cry during the sessions, but I will walk out the office pain-free.”
Go-to snack: Kale and avocado smoothie. “This is a dairy-free way to feel great. It really improves my stamina. I add chia seeds for extra punch.”
Favorite R&R strategy: Reading mental_floss magazine. “I love the quizzes. It really pushes you to think, which is great for getting your mind off dance.”