As a professional ballet dancer with the Australian Ballet Company, we work and rehearse 6 days a week, 8 hrs a day with only Sundays off. When you are chasing a passion, you don’t mind the hard work that goes with it. I feel very fortunate to be doing something I am passionate about and fulfilling the dreams of my four year old self.
On a performance day:
I start the morning with a healthy breakfast normally oats & blueberries and a strong coffee to help me last the big day ahead.
After breakfast I head into the Australian Ballet HQ and get changed into my studio wear ie: leotard, tights and warm up gear and make sure I have pointe shoes ready for class and rehearsals.
Then I warm up by doing some pilates exercises. This is a very important routine for me because I like to make sure I am waking up my muscles, centering myself and making sure all my joints, toes and body is ready and warm before I start morning Ballet class. Being properly warmed up helps me prevent injuries, get more out of class and gives me more time to improve my technique as my body is ready and raring to go.
Ballet class commences at 11am and finishes at 12.15pm. We start at the ballet barre then move into the centre wearing pointe shoes and we finish class with grande allegro (big Jumps). After class we have 15 mins break. Most of the time I stay back and practice any steps I want to improve or practice steps for the show later that night.
After the 15mins break, we head into rehearsals from 12.30 to 3pm.
Even if we are performing that night, during the day we are already rehearsing the next ballet coming up. It’s challenging but exciting to be juggling a few ballets at once. As ballet dancers you get quite good at remembering and picking up choreography really fast.
At 3pm our lunch break starts.
This is the time I make sure I eat something healthy and nutritious to fuel my body for what I will ask of it later that night in the performance. I like to change it up but my go to is Japanese cuisine because it’s fresh and fuels me right for the show. Not too greasy or heavy.
Also in my break I fit in a gym workout to keep up my fitness levels or head to a physio or massage appointment to iron out any tightness.
I head back into the theatre to start getting ready. I usually have a hot shower then start doing my own stage hair and make up. Also I make sure I double check my pointe shoes and costumes are ready.
I do a warm up at the ballet barre to get the body and mind moving again.
I head back into my dressing room to do any final make up/hair touch ups and I put my costume and pointe shoes on and head to the stage.
I normally hear the 15min call announcement and that’s my cue to start walking to the stage, rosin my shoes and practice any last min things on stage in my costume with my partner.
7.30pm - Curtain up.
During the show, sometimes we have 2 intervals and the staff normally comes back to our change-rooms to give us any feedback or corrections for the next night as we change into another costume or look for the next act. Sometimes our shows can be so busy and I can play up to 3 different characters or change my costume multiple times in a night. It’s the ultimate dress up party!
Photographer: Daniel Boud
10pm - end of show.
I remove my stage face and usually do an ice bucket for my lower legs for recovery... then it’s home time!
I am home and have a light meal, a hot shower and try to go to bed before midnight but most times it’s quite hard to calm down after a performance buzz! I chill out by catching up with my boyfriend & hearing about his day, chilling on the couch with Netflix, or reading a book. Then it’s sleep sleep sleep, in order to restore and repeat the next day!
Natasha Kusen is a soloist with The Australian Ballet. Born in Sydney, Natasha began dancing at the age of four and in 2001 won a scholarship to study at The Royal Ballet School in London. While still studying Natasha toured with The Royal Ballet and after graduation returned home to Australia and joined The Australian Ballet. Natasha was promoted to soloist in 2013.
Natasha spends any spare time in her busy schedule dabbling as a style spotter and blogger. Check out her blog Studio to Street.