How a ballerina stays fit, nourished and healthy

The Australian Ballet's Brooke Lockett takes us through her food, exercise and wellbeing routine.

There’s plenty a ballerina can teach us about living a healthy, balanced life. Staying in peak physical form is all part of the job – and during performance season, it’s especially important for dancers to make sure they’re feeling strong, nourished and vibrant.

Brooke Lockett has been dancing since she was three, and is now a star ballerina at The Australian Ballet. Here, she gives us backstage access to her daily routine.

Did you always want to become a professional dancer?

I loved ballet from the moment I started. I guess you could say it’s part of my DNA. When I was 10 a family friend took me to see The Australian Ballet’s production of The Merry Widow at the Victorian Arts Centre in Melbourne.

David McAllister (now my boss) was dancing the lead role. I remember this pounding feeling in my chest and excitement running through my veins. That night my dream to dance on that stage with The Australian Ballet became apparent in my soul.

What does your daily routine look like during performance season?

During a performance season I wake up at around 8 am. Three times a week, I do a morning Pilates mat session before ballet class.

My workday begins everyday with a ballet class at 11 am. We are taken through vigorous ballet exercises for an hour and 15 minutes to not only warm up for the day, but to also work on our technique and maintain peak form. Then I rehearse for upcoming shows until 3 pm.

If I need physiotherapy or a massage, we have it on hand at the Australian Ballet. I’m personally a big fan of dry needling (similar to acupuncture) and find that my body responds incredibly well to it.

I take a break before the show and always try to get some fresh air outside and clear my mind. I have some dinner and downtime, then head back to the dressing room at around 5.30 pm to prepare for the show. Then it’s time for hair and makeup, warm up barre, any last minute finishing touches and going over choreography before curtain up at 7:30 pm. And then it’s home for a good night’s sleep!

“I usually start my day with a green tea and bircher muesli, but some days I opt for fresh berries and a banana with some yogurt.”

What foods do you eat to nourish your body for dance?

I usually start my day with a green tea and bircher muesli, but some days I opt for fresh berries and a banana with some yogurt.

Some good friends of mine, Nicole Daboul and Tyler Atkins, co-founded The Living Lunchbox, which makes eating here in Sydney so much easier for me. They source out fresh, high quality, organic ingredients and combine it with a real creative passion for food.

One of my favourite indulgences on a night off is a nice meal out with friends. Japanese, Thai, Italian and Mexican are some of my favourite cuisines, but nothing beats home cooked salmon on the barbecue with steamed greens or a sweet potato salad.

What advice do you have for young children wanting to pursue a career in dance?

My advice to young children is to listen to your body and don’t abuse it, especially is those pivotal adolescent years when you are going through puberty. I haven’t met a single ballerina yet who is in love with their body every single day. Life works in waves, ride them and take the good with the bad.

“My workday begins with a ballet class. We are taken through vigorous ballet exercises for an hour and 15 minutes to warm up for the day and work on our technique and form.”

How does it feel to be in costume, music playing, ready to step out on stage to a full house?

At home! I can honestly say I feel at home when I am in costume and stepping out onto the stage. I never consciously think about the full house. It’s like a sea of darkness when I’m out there, but I can feel their energy radiating onto the stage.

How can ballet fans can learn more about The Australian Ballet?

Through our website, public programs and most importantly come and see a show. The art form is unlike anything else and although not every big classic is everyone’s cup of tea, we also have extremely exciting triple bills like Chroma, or if an evening of a sensational tutu fest and opulent glamour is your style, then the Imperial Suite program is a night not to be missed. Get involved, participate, and become a fan of the world of ballet, because it might just rock your world.

Australian Ballet physiotherapist Sue Mayes shows us what we can take from a ballerina’s approach to wellbeing

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