Kansas City Ballet Dancer Amanda DeVenuta Shares Her Favorite Exercises
Monday, fun day:
Amanda DeVenuta takes Sundays to rest and dedicates Mondays, her other day off, to working out. After a solar flow yoga class, she’ll grab lunch out and head to a one-on-one Pilates session. During the week, she doesn’t have much free time for cross-training, though she’ll slip into an open studio and dance on her own between rehearsals. One season, for instance, a friend taught her one of the “Emeralds” variations from Jewels, which they’d run for fun and to keep up their stamina.
Takeaways from the mat:
“My arms and my back have gotten a lot stronger from yoga,” says DeVenuta, but it’s also helped her focus on her breath and manage preshow nerves. “The wait, the anticipation, can get me more worked up than what I’m dancing. Being able to find my grounded center has been really helpful.”
Amanda DeVenuta in Swan Lake. Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios, Courtesy Kansas City Ballet
One of her favorite stretches is a slow back arch on the Pilates Cadillac. Starting in a V position, with her feet and arms in straps overhead, she lifts her hips into a suspended plank, then arches her head and torso backwards towards her toes, making a C shape with her body. “It’s a very controlled stretch,” she says. Not only does it release her chest and challenge her back flexibility, but it also requires her to engage her abs as she comes out of the backbend.
“Having a strong back is very, very important, especially for women, and when we’re partnered,” says DeVenuta. When her schedule allows, she hits the gym primarily for her abs and back, and loves this series: For her lats, she hangs from a pull-up bar and lifts and releases her shoulders for 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps. Between sets, she’ll continue hanging while lifting her knees in toward her core 10 times.
During the summer, DeVenuta swims laps outdoors for stamina and gives herself a mini barre in the pool. But you’ll also spot her at Kansas City Ballet, taking class with summer intensive students. “Going back to the basics helps me get stronger.”
Getting Into Character
DeVenuta chooses a signature perfume for each role, and thumbs through Nez, a French perfume magazine, for inspiration. For Odette, she spritzed on Talc by IUNX, which Nez described “like a white veil.” For Odile, she wore Mancera’s Red Tobacco. “It’s fiery and smoky, and it fit the character because she’s sassy and fiery and evil,” says DeVenuta.
For an electrolyte and hydration boost, she dissolves a Trace Minerals Max-Hydrate Immunity tablet in water. The sugar-free lemon-lime flavor contains sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin C.