Siphesihle November Shares His Typical Daily Routine

September 20, 2023

National Ballet of Canada principal Siphesihle November draws people in with his natural charisma. His sense of artistry in dance, choreography, and fashion have been recognized around the world and rewarded with opportunities, like choreographing a fashion show at Paris Fashion Week last spring, winning the Erik Bruhn Prize in 2019, and creating On Solid Ground, his first work for NBoC, in 2022. He’s been thrust into the spotlight onstage and onscreen, first as the subject of the documentary Beyond Moving in 2019 and more recently in Swan Song, which follows the creation of former NBoC artistic director Karen Kain’s new production of Swan Lake. (Swan Song premiered this month at the Toronto International Film Festival.) Still, when asked about his schedule, the 25-year-old November shrugs: “My life is not that interesting. I’m like…just chillin’.”

Really, he is just chillin’—in a way that only an artist with cool-kid energy can. November takes us through his typical day below.

Siphesihle November performs on a darkened stage, costumed in wide-legged black pants with slits up the sides. He begins falling over his left knee, pushing over his toes, as he arches back and looks toward the ceiling, his arms out to the side.
November in Crystal Pite’s Angels’ Atlas. Photo by Karolina Kuras, courtesy of NBoC.

8:15 am: Wake up. “I take a shower and wash my face right when I wake up.”

8:45 am: Bike to the coffee shop down the block. “I have my coffee, maybe a croissant—maybe two if I’m feeling ambitious—and then I leave around 9 to go to the studio.”

9:15 am: Arrive at NBoC’s studios and change for class.

9:30–10:45 am: Company class.

11:05 am: Rehearsal begins. “It’s a little different every day,” says November. “Right now, I’m working on Lensky in Onegin, and we are in creation for Helen Pickett’s new production of Emma Bovary, so it’s been really cool. Usually, we have a full call either in the first half of the day or the second, and then my pas de deux and solo work will be rehearsed separately.”

2–3 pm: Lunch. November goes to the café outside of NBoC or around the corner to Starbucks. “I usually get a bagel with cream cheese or a breakfast sandwich,” he says. “It depends on how hard I’ve been working—sometimes, if I’ve been dancing a lot, I will get a pasta dish delivered to the building.”

3–6 pm: Rehearsals continue.

6:15 pm: “I do a lot of press events in the evening. Like this week, I was performing at an event and then attended a press event, also. So, I bike to a restaurant directly after work and have a bite to eat,” he says. “If I don’t have an event, I still go out to eat after work. I don’t really like cooking, and cooking for one is a bit awkward.” During dinner, November goes on social media to wind down. “I watch ballet videos, send memes, and talk with friends.”

9 pm: “I usually get home around 9 unless a friend calls me to stay out later,” says November. He will then shower, watch a show, and catch up with friends or family back home in South Africa.

Between 10 pm and 3 am: “I don’t have a set bedtime—I just kind of have to see what’s happening.”

Performance Days

A typical performance day for NBoC starts around noon. “Everything I do is just shifted,” November says. “I wake up with the same amount of time to get to the studio and do my day.” He eats during the break before the performance and then goes out to dinner afterwards. “When I get home, I still watch a show to unwind, and respond to messages, look at memes—it’s all the same, I just have to go to bed with enough time to be ready to wake up in the morning and do it again.”

Maria Kochetkova and Siphesihle November pose during a performance of Swan Lake. Kochetkova, wearing a black tutu and tiara, stands in tendu derriere facing November and arches her body back, her right arm reaching long alongside her head. November kneels and clasps her left and, leaning his cheek against it, closing his eyes and smiling. He wears a white and gold tunic, white tights and white boots.
November with Maria Kochetkova in Swan Lake. Photo by Karolina Kuras, Courtesy of NBoC.

Days Off

“For me this is sleeping in—which means waking up whenever I want to,” says November. Usually he gets out of the house for his coffee around noon. After that he goes for a long walk. “I just roam around the city, hang out, maybe read a book and take photographs.”

One of November’s favorite cafés in Toronto is Rooms Coffee. “It’s a really cool social spot for me, and the coffee is incredible. There’s also great thrifting around there, and I often run into industry colleagues or friends. It’s a great spot to sit outside and people-watch, which is honestly one of my favorite downtime activities.”