Ballet Myth Busters
Episode 3: All About Food
Company class, rehearsals for multiple ballets, evening performances on the Opera House stage—SF Ballet’s dancers put in an incredible amount of work each day. But even when the ballet shoes come off, their work isn’t done. They must refuel both their minds and their bodies for the next day. But how do dancers do this? This month, we are busting another ballet myth.
MYTH: Ballet dancers don’t eat.
FALSE. One 90-minute rehearsal can burn 500 calories, so if a dancer is going to last from 10 am class to the end of an evening performance, they need to eat! During SF Ballet’s season—when training is heaviest—a dancer needs to eat on average more than 2500 calories a day and a good balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Corps de Ballet member Miranda Silveira, for example, likes to eat a bowl of pasta to replenish between Nutcracker performances. Principal Dancer Tiit Helimet’s favorite snack is an apple and some nuts, though sometimes he caves in and has some Triscuits. “They’re high in salt so it’s important not to over-do it, but they are great for hard days when you sweat a lot,” says Helimets. “I also tend to eat salty foods like nuts or crackers in between acts of our bigger shows like Swan Lake or Giselle. It helps me with preventing cramping.”
And that fuel is not just for mastering choreography. Many dancers spend time outside of the studio on conditioning and strength training to ensure they are at peak performance. Corps de Ballet member Gabriela Gonzalez does cardio, gyrotonics, and yoga; Principal Dancer Dores André loves to swim; and Principal Dancer Benjamin Freemantle lifts weights to maintain the strength and physique he needs to partner and dance the diverse range of ballets in SF Ballet’s repertory. All of that extra training takes fuel too!
Burning all those calories means that dancers can indulge in foods they love, too. Principal Dancer Yuan Yuan Tan loves a glass of red wine after a performance, and Soloist Daniel Deivison-Oliveira loves chocolate.
Here are two dishes made by SF Ballet dancers during shelter in place:
Header Image: Backstage // © Erik Tomasson