Nancy Osbaldeston, principal dancer with Ballet Vlaanderen and So Danca brand ambassador shared her daily routine with us.
Nancy Osbaldeston: A day in the life ...
I wake up at 7.30. Hit snooze maybe once or twice...Once I’m eventually out of bed, I’ll usually drink a glass of water and prepare the coffee. Somedays I warm up at home before heading to the studios for class. So before putting the coffee on the hob, I roll out my yoga mat to do about 30-minutes of gentle warming up. A mix of slow minimal movements; waking up and loosening my joints, just seeing where my body’s at that day. I do a mix of Pilates and Yoga exercises I’ve learned over the years.
After that a bit of breakfast, which could be anything from eggs; toast and salmon; porridge with fruit; yoghurt and cereal; to peanut butter on toast. Then I ride my bike to the studios, which takes about 15 minutes. I ride pretty slow my boyfriend tells me. He leaves after me but arrives at the same time, I like to save my legs for the day ahead!
Once at work - we begin every day with an hour and a half class starting at 10 am. It's generally a normal ballet class: beginning at the barre, going into centre practice and finishing with grand allegro. It’s a chance to warm up the whole body while checking it’s working as efficiently as possible and refining your technique.
A normal rehearsal day at Ballet Vlaanderen gives us a 15-minute break after class to change out of our sweaty gear into fresh leotards, ready to start rehearsals from 11.45 - 2 pm. This 2 hours & 15 minutes chunk can be split into different rehearsals in different studios depending on what pieces we have upcoming. There are 5 studios and around 40 dancers so a lot gets done.
Lunchtime is from 2 - 3 pm. Most dancers head to the canteen as the food is usually very good there. If I have an outside project going on I would use this time or part of it to rehearse in the empty studios.
I head home ... to cook a vegetarian meal for dinner
Then, from 3 - 5.30 pm is the second chunk of rehearsals for the day. We get another 15-minute pause at some point during this time. At 5.30 we are finished and sometimes we work by ourselves for maybe another hour if needed. Then I head home on my bike to cook a vegetarian Hello Fresh meal for dinner.
One evening a week, I go to Gyrotonics, which I love. It helps me align my body and strengthen my awareness of how I’m using it. At the end of the day, there'll maybe be some Netflix and perhaps a glass of wine if needed!
On performance weeks the days are pretty similar. Except we always have 2 hours free for preparation before the show, which usually begins at 8 pm. We spend that 2 hours warming-up, getting costumes ready and doing make-up.
I find my schedule goes up and down in terms of being busy. Sometimes I’m working a lot and then sometimes not...with more downtime. I guess it tends to balance out over time. It's easy to complain either way (because dancers tend to enjoy complaining) so I always try to remind myself that I get to dance for a living and how lucky I am to get paid to do what I'm passionate about.
In my free time, I like to shop and make clothes. I’m a big fan of vintage clothes, one-off pieces and kooky looks. I also love being part of photoshoots and spending time with family and friends. I enjoy all the normal stuff like travelling, reading and making cocktails!
Thanks to Nancy for sharing her daily schedule. It's fascinating to have a peek inside the life of a professional dancer. We're all missing our daily routines these days. No matter how mundane and boring it seemed at the time, our little everyday habits feel very valuable now. From being able to head out on your bike, to doing a dance class with friends, even waiting in line for a coffee; these moments seem a million miles away from normal. I know I miss the queue in Butlers each morning!