• Interview with Sylvia Deaton of the Boston Ballet

    October 13, 2012

    A few weeks ago, I received an email from the Boston Ballet inviting Mal and me to one of their upcoming performances. Mal and I recently talked about getting out more and enjoying all that the city has to offer, so the timing for the invitation was perfect, so we accepted. Plus, neither of us have ever been to the ballet, so it sounded like a neat opportunity.


    I have to admit, I actually don’t know much about the Boston Ballet at all. I took ballet classes from the time I was 3 years old until I graduated high school (and then danced in college on the Union College Dance Team), so I know I’d enjoy a performance, but, for some reason, I always figured tickets would be super expensive, so I never bothered to look into them. It turns out tickets to the Boston Ballet are actually really affordable. They start at $29 and tickets to The Nutcracker start at $35. Not bad, right? Maybe I’ll buy tickets to The Nutcracker this year!

    Interview with Sylvia Deaton of the Boston Ballet

    In addition to a pair of tickets, I was also offered the opportunity to interview one of the dancers from the Boston Ballet. Check out my Q & A with Sylvia Deaton below!


    When did you first start dancing?

    I have been dancing since I could walk. The second I hear music I have a sudden urge to move.

    How did dancing for fun turn into a career for you?

    I knew I wanted to be a professional dancer after loving Broadway shows and professional ballet performances when I was younger. I would go home after these shows and have my sister stand in as my male partner. I would sell tickets to my family or my always attentive stuffed animals. This dream became a reality when I came to Boston Ballet School as a scholarship student in their pre-professional program. I was then asked to be in the Boston Ballet II as an apprentice for two years and then accepted as a member of the corps de ballet in the main company. I am so grateful to be living my dream and coming into work every day doing the thing that brings me the utmost fun and joy to my life.

    Fitness-wise, what does a typically week look like for you?

    I get to the studio at 8:45 every morning to start my warm up. I do an hour warm up consisting of cardio, Pilates, and stretching. At 9:45 we have a company class. This is a typical ballet class starting with 45 minutes of work at the barre and 45 minutes in the center with different exercises to improve technique. After a 15 minute break, I begin a day of six hours of rehearsal. Each hour I will rehearse something different. For example, one hour might be for the doll in the Nutcracker, the next hour for William Forsythe’s the Second Detail, and the next for Christopher Bruce’s Rooster set to the music of the Rolling Stones. After the first three hours, I have an hour to eat lunch at 2:30 then go back to rehearse for the last three hours finishing at 6:30. After that, I stay for about 30 minutes to stretch my muscles so they stay loose for the next day.

    What’s a typical day of eating look like for you?

    I eat small things throughout the day. For breakfast, I have a big bowl of cereal. My favorite is to mix a variety of Kashi cereals topped with a spoonful of Greek yogurt for protein, fresh berries, sunflower seeds, and milk. In between the hours of the day we have five minute breaks. I take little snacks for this time to keep my energy up such as bananas, apples, and almonds. For lunch, I pack a turkey sandwich from home on wheat bread with tomato, spinach, and mustard. I stay hydrated by drinking Gatorade for the electrolytes and water. Dinner is my time to refuel with a protein such as chicken or turkey alongside fresh vegetables such as a sweet potato, steamed cauliflower, or sautéed grape tomatoes.

    What’s something most people would be surprised to hear about ballerinas?

    One interesting thing about ballerinas is the number of pointe shoes we go through. I usually sew ribbons and elastics on a new pair of shoes every day. Sometimes one pair of shoes is only good for one performance becoming too soft after that to support my feet.

    What’s the craziest/unexpected thing that’s ever happened to you during a performance?

    The craziest thing was one Nutcracker performance in the opening of second act right after the cute little angels had scurried offstage we all noticed a small pool of water. Each divertissement did their best to avoid this puddle jumping over it and curving around it. We found out later, after the act was put on a brief hold for clean up, that the abuse of the water cooler in the children’s dressing area and the nervous environment onstage proved to not be the best combination.

    Question of the Day

    Have you ever been to the ballet? What’d you think?

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    { 28 comments… read them below or add one }

    Cait October 13, 2012 at 8:59 am

    interesting post, thanks!


    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance October 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I have been to see the Joffrey Ballet perform the Nutcracker. It was just beautiful! Watching ballet live is so much more incredible than on television. They are so talented.


    Khushboo October 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Wow, sounds like quite a day…good thing she is sensible about keeping energy levels high with regular snacks!


    Danielle@cleanfoodcreativefitness October 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Interesting interview! I used to be a dancer and even majored in dance through college so I always love hearing from former dancers! I ended swapping out crossfit for dance so things have definitely changed but I have a lot of respect for how hard dancers work!


    Lindsay October 13, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I have dedicated my life to dance and theater, performing around the world and now teaching in Seoul, S. Korea so this post was very near and dear to my heart! Thank you for sharing! I loved her realistic take on the life/eating habits of a working ballet dancer, and the most unexpected moment! I had a lovely moment this week getting wee dancers ready for their FIRST PERFORMANCE EVER! What a joy when they said, “my heart is fluttering!” I said, “that is the BEST part, hold onto that feeling”. Happy Dancing, and thank you for always bring diversity to your blog;)


    Lisa (Foreign Pavement) October 13, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Great post, Tina! I also studied ballet for years and years. I went to the Boston Ballet 2 years ago and it was absolutely beautiful. Lucky you have it within reach.


    Jennifer L October 13, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I love the ballet… a performance of the Nutcracker at Christmastime is a great tradition! It’s amazing how easy those dancers make it look.

    Speaking of ballet… have you ever tried the New York City Ballet Workout DVDs? It’s hard yet relaxing. Probably the mix of music and soothing narration. Although maybe it wouldn’t be so hard for someone who’s danced before…


    Elisabeth October 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I was never a dancer, but I think ballet & ballet dancers are fascinating! Can’t wait to hear about your trip(s) to the ballet 🙂


    Sandee October 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

    My daughter (15) did ballet for about 5 years. She absolutely loved it. She has scoiliosis which didn’t help and then grew to be 6 feet. She recently gave up ballet (very heart wrenching decision because she loved it so much) and is now playing water polo. Loved your interview and we have so much respect for how the dancers work. Wow.


    luv what you do October 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I saw the ballet in London and loved it. I would love to go back and I know Chicago has some amazing dance studios! I found this interview so interesting…ballerina’s are incredible athletes!


    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats October 13, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I looooove the ballet but I rarely get to go! When I was growing up we’d always go see the Nutcracker at the Kansas City Ballet


    Jess @ JessieBear What Will You Wear October 13, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I’ve never been to a ballet, but I’ve always wanted to. I’ve seen performances on t.v. and online and I think it’s absolutely beautiful. I should really look into performances in Chicago!


    Corrie Anne October 13, 2012 at 11:56 am

    We just saw Sleeping Beauty at the Colorado Ballet last night!!! It was amazing!! I love ballet, and it was my first time seeing a real performance with a live orchestra. Loved it!!


    Elizabeth October 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I went to see the Nutcracker in Boston last winter, and it was great! I’d definitely recommend it :).


    Lea October 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Loooooove ballet!!! Haven’t been in may years – used to go to performances all the time.


    Ellie@Fit for the Soul October 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Lately I’ve been so fascinated about ballerinas! Their lifestyle def. seems disciplined, and I just can’t get over the long hours of practice…phew. 🙂 And I’ve never actually seen a show! But if I had the opportunity, I’d surely jump at the chance.


    Deb October 13, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    LOL I am laughing at the “abuse of the water cooler” at the end! Great interview. Lots of interesting things covered.


    Anne October 13, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. I danced for 16 years, no one understands the physicality required to be a professional dancer and I have so so so much respect for what they do!


    Candice October 13, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I grew up loving and dancing ballet, then morphed into cheer, hip hop etc through high school. Taught me discipline, flexibility, and everything in between. Love dance! What a great interview!


    Carli October 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    I’ve never been to the ballet either as I also thought it would cost more.

    I never realized that pointe shoes may only last one show. Wow! The story about the kids was so funny. Especially the way Sylvia told it.


    Jess October 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I love ballet! I wanted to be a dancer but had big troubles and surgery on my back so I had to stop the professional track. Such a full on life! Nice post! 🙂


    Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food October 13, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    My aunt has tickets (season tickets I guess you could say?) to the Pittsburgh Ballet and I have gone to many performances with her. We always have such a great time! I think it’s such a beautiful type of dance.


    heidi kokborg October 14, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Great interview!! 🙂


    Lauren @ Part Time House Wife October 14, 2012 at 8:03 am

    The closest thing I’ve been to a ballet was the rockets…But I would LOVE to go! It’s awesome the tickets are do cheap, I was with you thinking they have to be pricey! Nice job on the interview.


    Megan@funsizedfitness October 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing your interview – that’s really interesting about how often they go through shoes! I took ballet when I was young, but ended up stopping (probably because I have very limited flexibility!)


    Lea @ Greens and Coffee Beans October 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Such a cool interview! It’s always been a dream of mine to be a professional dancer (I’ve taken classes since I was 3!), so I love reading interviews with ballerinas, it sounds like such a tough, but rewarding job! And I love going to the ballet, I’m hoping to go see the Nutcracker again this Christmas!


    Stacy @ Say It With Sprinkles October 15, 2012 at 1:07 am

    I took ballet when I was young, but have been looking in to adult classes lately – there’s something about “being” a dancer or being exposed to it when you’re young that never seems to leave you! I hope I can find something affordable soon, and I’d love to check out a performance this holiday season!


    Chelsea @ Chelsea Eats Treats October 15, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    This is so cool! Ever since I watched Black Swan a few weeks ago (yes, I’m late) I’ve been very interested in professional ballet. How cool! Also, I saw the Nutcracker in Boston when I was little and I remember loving it! It was much better than the version I typically see at the Kennedy Center in DC each year.


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