Washington Ballet Studio Company’s Abigail Brent Shares Her Typical Daily Routine

April 4, 2024

For 19-year-old Abigail Brent, getting promoted into The Washington Ballet’s Studio Company was, she says, “a dream come true.” After spending a year in TWB’s trainee program, the Charlottesville, Virginia, native started with the Studio Company—which performs in main-company productions as well as in its own shows—last fall. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with different choreographers and different ballets that I never thought I would get to do,” she says.

Brent’s favorite performances so far include the featured role of Lead Cardinal in Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker, Silas Farley’s Such Sweet Thunder, and the recent world premiere of Jessica Lang’s Coloring Silent Space. Below, she takes us through her typical daily routine:

8 am: Wake up. “I try to condense my morning schedule so I have as much sleep time as possible,” says Brent. Her morning includes eating breakfast (usually a bowl of yogurt with fruit and granola) and getting ready for her day at the studio.

8:50 am: Brent walks to The Washington Ballet studios every morning in the Cathedral Heights area, which takes about seven minutes. “I usually call my mom or talk with my family, and I enjoy being outside.”

9 am: Arrive at the studio. Brent likes to give herself 30 minutes to warm up and center herself before class.

9:30–11 am: Company class, which Studio Company members take alongside TWB company dancers. “It inspires you and motivates you to keep pushing yourself to get to their level—and you get to see what you like about their dancing and try to apply it for yourself,” Brent says.

11 am–2:10 pm: Rehearsal. “We always have three hours of rehearsal before lunch and three hours after,” she says. “Depending on what we’re working on, sometimes the whole company is together, or sometimes we’re using all the studios and everyone is broken up into separate rehearsals.” The Studio Company will also sometimes rehearse for their own performances, like earlier this season when they performed Ghost Light, by rehearsal director Tamás Krizsa, at the Dupont Underground—a subterranean performance space in DC’s Metro system.

Two male dancers lift Abigail Brent above their heads as she poses her body in arabesque. She holds her curved left arm up and her right arm out to the side. She wears a long white dance dress with a filmy skirt, pink tights and pointe shoes. The men wear long-sleeved white shirts and peach pants. They dance in a light-filled, airy studio.
Abigail Brent during a studio rehearsal. Photo by xmbphotography, courtesy TWB.

2:10–3 pm: Lunch. Brent packs one to bring to the studio every day. “I usually have the same thing for the whole week—just something easy, like a sandwich.”

3–6:10 pm: Rehearsals continue. Since the main company is part of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), Studio Company members also receive five-minute breaks per union rules, which is why rehearsal periods don’t end on the hour.

6:30 pm: After rehearsals, Brent walks back to her apartment, unpacks her bag, showers, and spends time in the kitchen. “Before I make dinner, I meal-prep for the next day and make and pack my lunch, because it saves me time in the morning.” For dinner, she likes to make something different each night if she can, like pasta with veggies.

8 pm: Self-care routine. “If I’ve had a long rehearsal day, I take care of my body a little bit—I put in toe spacers, ice, use a heating pad, whatever I need to do.” She will also watch a TV show or read to help her wind down.

10:30–11 pm: Bedtime. “My apartment has a great view, so before I go to sleep, I look out over the city and it’s really beautiful.”

Days Off

On Saturdays, Brent sleeps in as long as she can before leaving to work at the front desk of The Washington Ballet’s Northwest Campus. “I work from 10:45 to 3:30, unless I pick up another shift,” she says. Her responsibilities include opening the secure door when dancers arrive, ensuring younger children find their parents before leaving the building, answering the phone, parent interactions, assisting with general inquiries, and handling or reporting maintenance issues.

After her shift, she will grocery-shop, do laundry, and clean her apartment. “I also like spending time outside, since we are inside during the week. I love being in nature as much as I can.” One of Brent’s favorite neighborhood spots is the National Cathedral, just a few blocks south of The Washington Ballet’s main location. “I like to go walk around the grounds or go to the café there with friends,” she says. Sunday is a rest day for Brent, when she prepares for the upcoming week.

Performance Weeks

Apart from performances of Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker, which take place at The Warner Theater, The Washington Ballet usually performs at The Kennedy Center. It takes Brent about 20 to 30 minutes to get there, depending on if she drives or takes the bus. If there is an evening performance, class is usually around 4 pm. “We get to take class onstage, which is nice because you get used to the space and the lights.”

The dancers have at least an hour after class to do hair and makeup and get into costume. After the performance, Brent returns home, eats dinner (which she preps at the beginning of the week to save time), ices her feet, and tries to get to bed as soon as possible. “I love the feeling of performing—the adrenaline, the feeling from the audience—and here I love that we get to perform so often and at amazing theaters in the nation’s capital, especially The Kennedy Center,” she says. “It’s really special.”