The beginning of a new season at Les Ballets de Monte Carlo means several things; new and exciting places to tour to, extraordinarily hot temperatures in the studios, and pain. Lots of it. For most ballet companies, the start of a new season usually means having a little bit of time to slowly get your body back into working, dancing, order by having some time to start slowly, usually by learning new steps in a new ballet that is unfamiliar to most, if not all of the dancers in the company. For us however, we tend to start the season with one of our “rep ballets” of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s that we perform every year, and it known inside out and backwards by everyone in the company, save for the new dancers who are just joining us for the new season. This usually means that the beginning of a new season for us tends to feel like we’re getting “shot out of a cannon”!
Getting your body back in shape is not an easy thing to do after a holiday. The experience is different for each dancer, taking into account what their body can tolerate. For me, there is a fine line between how much time I can safely take off without having the return be too catastrophic, and yet also I know that my body needs several weeks at the end of the season of doing nothing. When I say nothing I mean I won’t even go into a gym and lift weights. I will just rest, relax, and eat. Which unfortunately I know that I will pay for later once I do in fact get back to work, but I just have to keep telling myself that my body will thank me later having let it rest. This period normally lasts about two weeks, and anything beyond that, I start to feel restless, and my brain also starts to say things like “you have a show only ten days after you get back to work, shouldn’t you be doing something” However, I’m also on vacation, and I want to still be free enough to have a vacation. What I will usually do is just stretch for the first few days, and nothing else. Then, I might add some easy exercises at the “barre”, slowly building up by adding one exercise a day. I might throw in some push ups or a few weights to do something for my upper body, so that when I come to lift a woman for the first time after vacation, it doesn’t feel like a totally foreign concept to me again! During the last few days of my vacation before I come back home, if I am somewhere that I can start taking a real ballet class, I do so.
Now, this doesn’t avoid the inevitable shock of returning to a full rehearsal day that lasts until 6:30, but it most certainly helps to lessen the pain, even if only a small amount; every little bit helps! Though I have to admit that most of the time, I am too excited at being back to work, and preparing to get back onstage to think about the sore muscles and joints. Well…perhaps just a little bit!