The Vail Dance Festival is right around the corner, and the Vail Valley will soon be filled with dancers from all over the world. At 8,150 feet, Vail, CO can be tricky for dancers as they acclimate from sea level to higher elevations. CO Yoga + Life caught up with three festival dancers to find out how they adjust to dancing in altitude.
Lauren Lovette, Principal Dancer and Choreographer, New York City Ballet and Artist-in-Residence, Vail Dance Festival
1) How do you prepare at sea level for dancing in Vail?
Before flying to Vail, I try to really clean up my diet by going mostly plant-based and I drink a ton of water and juice to cleanse my digestive system.
2) What is your fitness routine during the off-season?
Since my legs get so much attention dancing, my fitness routine at the moment is mostly weight training, core stabilizing and upper body focused. However, in the off-season, I have to keep my calves and feet strong, so I wear my point shoes and do repeated barre work in them to maintain my “ballet specific” strength.
3) Since being at altitude can speed up your metabolism, what important nutrition habits are your go-tos when you’re in Vail?
My nutrition habits in Vail always include a great deal of fruit, dark green veggies, tons of water, and constant snacking on various nuts and dried fruits to keep sugar levels high. I also can never get enough water in altitude and I try to stay away from alcohol and dairy while I’m there.
4) What is your favorite type of exercise when you are not dancing?
I’m not a passionate gym lover, I would almost always rather be outside doing something active then stuck on a treadmill or stationary bike. So, I like to walk Manhattan often, and loved my bike when I had space for it. If I lived in Colorado, I would hike as often as possible, but in New York City you have to be creative to find ways to get to nature. My boyfriend and I like to take his Ducati Monster out of the city and get to quiet natural beauty that way. Other than that, I will take different types of dance classes, but my off time is usually dedicated to much needed rest and recovery!
Calvin Royal III, Soloist Dancer, American Ballet Theatre
1) What is your cross-training regimen during the performance season?
I usually like to swim, which helps me with cardio, but truthfully getting a good seven to eight hours of sleep, and resting on my days off helps me the most. I work with a personal trainer who helps design workouts tailored to my physical goals depending on how light or heavy my rehearsal/performing schedule is.
2) How does this regimen change when you are preparing for the Vail Dance Festival and the altitude?
There’s honestly not a whole lot that changes when it comes to preparing for the altitude in Vail. The 8,000 feet elevation is hard when you’re not dancing! When I arrive, I try my best to pace myself and ease into rehearsals and classes, which is pretty helpful come performance time.
4) How do you fuel your body during the busy festival schedule?
I have to hydrate way more than I ever do at sea level. I always go grocery shopping the day I get in to make sure I’m stocked with things like trail mix, Acli-Mate Mountain Sport Drink (it works wonders!), and foods for breakfast (oats, fruit, seeds, nuts) and dinner, like lean meats, and lots of veggies and pasta. Lunch is usually provided by the festival, which is great!
Joseph Gordon, Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet
1) What is the best way to prepare for dancing in higher elevations?
I generally don’t have to do that much prep before coming to Vail because the festival is programmed shortly after NYC Ballet’s summer season in Saratoga Springs. Arriving in good shape is pretty much all you can do as not much else will prepare you for the altitude!
2) What do your workouts entail during the off-season?
When I am not in season, I enjoy staying in shape by doing yoga, Pilates and swimming. I try to do one of those a day to keep my body limber and strong.
3) What is the most important rule to live by when dancing in Vail?
No alcohol is a big one! At least not until the last few nights! I make sure to hydrate like crazy and get good sources of protein, potassium and vitamin C for my muscle recovery.
4) What type of exercise benefits you the most?
My favorite type of exercise when I’m not dancing is probably yoga or swimming in the ocean.
The Vail Dance Festival takes place July 26 – Aug. 10. For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, visit www.vaildance.org.
With more than two decades of expertise in public relations, freelance writing and blogging, Jenifer Geisman combines the right amount of confidence and creative flair that turns a “conventional” product or service into an “insider’s favorite.” Geisman has an extensive public relations background covering lifestyle, consumer products, luxury goods, travel and events. Geisman lives in Avon, CO with her husband, two daughters and two dogs.