” When Jill asked me to write a bit about my life with dance, and the importance of having a healthy lifestyle to match, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity because I truly feel the two are completely entwined. I think many of us as young inexperienced dancers learn the hard way how essential it is to have a good warm-up regimen in the morning, and how what we put into our bodies affects our energy and performance.”
Name: Alisha Brach
Vocation: Professional ballerina with the Royal Swedish Ballet, part of Kungliga Operan.
Defining Moment on Stage to Date: I cannot say that I’ve had one preeminent defining moment onstage. I do not search for one feeling or moment, but instead enjoy the process and time as a whole. What I always hope for is the feeling of being at home on stage- a place where I feel proud showing the audience what it is I do each day, showing them my passion and happiness. This confidence doesn’t happen over night, and is developed as a result of preparation and hard work in the studio. And having an excellent rehearsal coach is half that battle! If I had to chose a highlighted performance, I would go (way) back to the time I performed Dark Angel in George Balanchine’s Serenade (at the young age of 13!). I felt free and accomplished, and for the first time I felt strongly that I was going to become a professional dancer.
Favorite Style of Dance: Contemporary ballet is my favorite style of dance, if I had to choose one. Forsythe, Kylian, Jorma Elo for example. However, when classical ballet is done well, by those with the purest technique and artistry, it is absolutely captivating.
Favorite Dance Wear Brand: When it comes to dance wear, I want to be comfortable and confident in what I wear. I am biased though about my favorite brand, because my best friend Julia Cinquemani has her own line, Jule Dance wear. She makes a supportive, well-fitting product and she puts a lot of thought into each of her designs. I also like Elevé dancewear– made by a former dancer of the Kansas City Ballet. The dancer can customize a leotard in just about any way imaginable, and she offers many fun, unique patterns from which to choose.
Favorite Energy Breakfast: I begin my day with a breakfast of yogurt, granola and fruit although sometimes if I feel I need extra protein that day I have eggs with hearty toast. Here in Scandinavia it is very popular to have cheese, caviar or smoked fish with breakfast and so I sometimes follow such traditions. Think ‘smörgåsbord’ – a word of Swedish origin, and you get the idea. I like to keep an open mind when it comes to food, especially since it varies from culture to culture.
Favorite thing to do on a “day off” from Work: When I have a day off from work, I honestly enjoy sleeping in the most. I also enjoy going to the farmers market, supporting local farmers and their produce. I am lucky to be living within a 10 minute walk of the neighborhood farmers market here in Södermalm, in downtown Stockholm. On an ideal day off, I would go to the market, then for a swim and sauna, and walk home afterwards. It’s the perfect way to decompress from a difficult dancing week. If I am needing some dance inspiration, I watch video of dancers or companies that I admire, see a performance or visit a museum.
How do you blow of steam: Traveling is a sure dose of inspiration, as is a chat with family or friends.
Why do you think integration of dance and health is needed: A dancer becomes better if she thinks of her health. In a pragmatic sense, looking at a dancer who is on the verge of breaking is scary. Knowing that a dancer takes pills whenever experiencing pain, or seeing a dancer struggle with an eating disorder … it does not translate into a long, happy career (or something pleasant to watch). The nature of ballet today is so athletic and demanding. From the injuries that I’ve worked through, to the anatomy/kinesiology courses I have studied, I have developed a deeper understanding of my body and it’s limitations. Although injury is devastating, the positive is that a dancer comes back wiser, more sensitive and in tune to their body. This translates into the quality of their dancing.
What’s next for you: My time here with Royal Swedish has only just begun, and I am eagerly looking forward to what lies ahead. I am excited to work with Christopher Wheeldon, when we dance his Alice in Wonderland in late spring. We are lucky here to experience the different pedagogies of teachers and choreographers from all over the world, so every couple weeks we can learn from someone new. This is something for which I’m really grateful.