Curious to know what a week in life of a ballet dancer is like?
For Junior Soloist Heather Lehan it involves hours of rehearsals, a ton of colourful legwarmers, endless ice buckets and a whole lot of peanut butter!
Heather is sponsored by Mr Jolyon & Mrs Carol Harrison.
My name is Heather Lehan and I am a Junior Soloist with Northern Ballet.
I'm going to be taking you along on a typical rehearsal week while we are at our studios in Leeds.
So this is a week in my life.
When we're rehearsing at base my days typically start about 7:45am.
The first order of business is always coffee and breakfast.
I tend to have porridge or cereal, but it's always with a healthy dose of maple syrup because I am Canadian.
After that, it's out to the balcony for a moment of fresh air. No matter the weather, I always make myself go outside to drink my coffee because I feel like it makes me appreciate being awake just that little bit more.
After that, it's time to get ready.
And while I'm getting ready, I usually like to listen to a podcast or an audiobook. And right now it's a history podcast
that I'm really loving. And it's called We Are History.
After getting changed, I brush my teeth quick and now I'm rushing a little bit because it's Monday and it's hard to get out the door on time.
It was such a beautiful day today, which you learn to really appreciate while living up in Leeds and here I am arriving at work. I'm greeted by Will our receptionist.
I passed through our lovely foyer and I head up to the dressing room to get ready.
I meet a bunch of the other girls in the dressing room we're changing and doing our hair for the day. But we also get distracted by chatting, which is something that I definitely do a lot of.
After that, I choose a skirt and I choose some legwarmers for the day, and a muff.
Before class, I always go upstairs to the physio area to do my activation exercises to get my muscles going. Doing these exercises helps prevent injury and ensures that I'm using the right muscles when I'm working.
Here we are beginning class at the typical 10am. We always start at the barre where we have the support to warm up and refine our technique. And today we had Yoko [Ichino] teaching us and she always does a good job getting us set up for the week after we've had a day off.
I typically put on my pointe shoes about halfway through the barre, unless I have a new pair, which I need to break in, in which case I would put them on at the start. I need a new pair about once or sometimes twice a week, depending on my workload, and then it's on to the centre.
Monday class is hard.
[Gemma] So hard. [Heather] We try.
Today was Julie's birthday, So of course, in true Northern Ballet style, we embarrassed her by singing Happy Birthday and making a big fuss. And we also got her a nice little gift.
After class, I was off to my first rehearsal, which today was a rehearsal for a piece by Tiler Peck.
That is in our mixed programme, Three Generations. The piece is called Intimate Pages.
I'm always holding like a thousand things at once, and after that, I went off to my next rehearsal downstairs where I switched ballets and we were teaching one of our new dancers some choreography from Beauty & the Beast.
I had a little break after this rehearsal, so I wanted to get some of my physio exercises done.
What I'm putting on my leg here is an occlusion cuff which restricts the blood flow, making it more challenging for my muscles while not having to overload my knees with any heavyweights.
I've had a little bit of knee pain lately, so I'm just trying to really keep on top of doing my strengthening exercises.
Cross-training and sports medicine and ballet is really important to keep us healthy with the amount of work that we're always putting our bodies through.
Our physiotherapist sets up these specific rehab routines that are tailored to each of us and whatever issues it is
that we're dealing with. And I had some acupuncture with him afterwards just to release a tight muscle.
Then it was time for lunch. Typically, the dancers like to hang out on the first floor when we're having lunch, and my lunch will always include peanut butter.
In fact, there's actually an active bet amongst the dancers of how many kilograms of peanut butter I'm going to go through this season.
You are welcome to take a guess, if you'd like, in the comments, but the hint is it's definitely a lot.
I quick grabbed some pointe shoes after that from our shoe room.
Each dancer has an individual cubby filled with their unique make of pointe shoe.
I will sew these later, when I get some time.
And then it was back into afternoon rehearsals. And here I am with Kirica after a series of rehearsals for Beauty & the Beast.
[Kirica] The Good Fairy
[Heather] and I'm the Evil Fairy.
[Ashley] Nearly there, one rehearsal left of the day.
[Heather] I have two!
[Ashley] Oh, poor me!
[Heather] This rehearsal was for Adagio Hammerklavier, which is by Hans van Manen. It is another in our mixed programme.
And we had a lot of fun in this rehearsal today. It's really enjoyable to work on.
These rehearsals are all about fine tuning and making sure everything looks as smooth and as effortless as possible.
Then jumped back in the lift to run down for my last rehearsal the day, which was a full call rehearsal for Tiler Peck's piece,
I finished off the day by icing my knee with this great piece of equipment that we have, which is called a Game Ready. So it ices and compresses at the same time. I try to do this as much as I can.
Then it was a quick shower and get ready to go home.
I am notoriously slow and live in fear of being locked in this building when it closes at night because I'm always the last one. I left the building about half seven and I met my partner in town for the walk home.
When I arrived home, I clicked on the fairy lights and collapsed on the couch. It was quite a Monday. But it was time to make dinner.
This evening I made a really nice tofu Thai curry, which was packed with lots of veggies and protein.
I like to try and make something that makes quite a lot of portions so that I can just save it for the rest of the week and not have to be cooking every night when I'm getting home. It was really good.
And here are the leftovers that are already for the freezer.
I had a nice evening tea and then Facetimed home whilst I rolled out my muscles.
We usually Facetime pretty late in the evening because of the time difference in Canada.
And I've been rolling a lot lately because I've been finding it helps my body recover for the next day.
After brushing my teeth, it was time for bed.
Well, today was another day of gorgeous weather, so my balcony coffee was quite enjoyable. And then I got ready for my day.
Again I was rushing a little bit, but today it was because I needed to be in the building extra early for a Dancers' Committee meeting. So I picked out my outfit and I was off; it was a gorgeous sunny walk.
I arrived at the building, headed upstairs, met the girls and did my hair. I picked out some legwarmers for the day. And here's the Dancers’ Committee heading to our meeting where we discussed currentand upcoming matters within the Company.
I did some band walks down the hallway in an attempt to warm up for class on time. And here I am arriving at my barre spot. As creatures of habit,we almost always end in the same barre spots every day, so you better pick a good one on your first day in the company. And here is my perspective of the room during pliés at my barre spot.
Class was with Yoko again today, and usually on a Tuesday your body's feeling a little bit better than it did on Monday, so we do a few more challenging things.
I was a little hungry after class, so I had a snack. Obviously it was peanut butter.
My morning rehearsal today was Beauty & the Beast. I caught these guys working hard between scenes.
Then I could let those toes breathe because it was lunch break.
After eating quick, I headed to physio where Craig gave me a very, very painful massage on my IT band, which was feeling really tight.
Then it was upstairs for my after lunch rehearsal, which was Wedding Scene from Beauty & the Beast.
Tony [Antoni Cañellas Artigues] was feeling very patriotic today, apparently with those flashy tights.
My final rehearsal of the day today was Adagio Hammerklavier with the whole group. Some things worked out really well, others not so much. But that's what rehearsals are for.
I finally freed those toes and went to go ice.
Andrew [Tomlinson]is in the cold pod and he inspired me to do the same. So I try to do it for myself. It's supposed to be really good for your muscles.
When we left this evening, it was still really nice and sunny. So I met my boyfriend in town and we took the long way home because it was such a beautiful day.
For dinner tonight, I had some fishcakes which I had previously made and put away in the freezer.
And then I had my therapy session. Because mental health is as important as physical health and because it was such a nice warm evening, my boyfriend and I went for another little evening walk, and then we played this very dorky card game, which we both love.
And I needed to sew some pointe shoes. So I did some of that while watching Netflix, which turned into Facetiming my dad
while sewing them instead, and when they were done, it was time for bed.
It's Wednesday and it's quite rainy today. So after my breakfast I picked up some rainy earrings for the day because they make the rainy days better and people love to comment on them.
I picked out an outfit and I was off to work.
I have so many bruises this morning. I think it might be from Craig's IT band massage.
After a quick activation, it was time for Class and today we had a lot of visitors watching because it was our Patron Open Day.
Dan [de Andrade] was teaching and there was a really nice energy in class, I think motivated by our audience.
After class, I went down to the Wardrobe Department. Here are some of the lovely ladies at work.
But the real reason I was here was because I had a costume fitting.
Here I am getting fitted for Sprites from Beauty & the Beast and of course doing lots of chatting.
Then this one is for the Wedding Scene.
And finally this fun number is for the Prince's Friends at the beginning of Beauty & the Beast. It's huge!
I had a snack, obviously peanut butter, and went down to rehearsal.
Here is the end of Tiler's rehearsal.
I didn't film today because I was quite busy during it and we had our guests watching, but then it was lunchtime.
George wasn't so sure about being filmed, but he got me back afterwards because he scared me in the kitchen.
After lunch, I squeezed in a little bit of my rehab exercises because I need to do those three times a week.
And then we had another Beauty & the Beast wedding rehearsal to keep things tidy, get some other casts in and present it to our guests.
At the end of the day I did my icing as per usual, had a quick shower and got ready to go home.
I then remembered glue my shoes for tomorrow.
Fun fact, I actually just use average super glue to harden the inner toe and I left for the day.
I met my partner in town and we went for a tea which we like to do sometimes after work.
We quickly stopped by the grocery store because I wanted to make some coconut rice to go with my Thai curry from the other night.
I did some laundry, which was mostly ballet leotards today, and after my usual nighttime routine, including all of my rather extensive skincare, I rolled out and it was time for bed.
Good morning. It's Thursday.
It was another typical morning routine, including listening to my podcast, picking up some new earrings. Then I walk to work and get ready in the changing rooms. You know the drill at this point.
Activation exercises and down for class.
Here are my barre buddies getting that Thursday energy going.
Class was with Dan again today and here we are doing some barre work and then we moved into the centre as per usual.
After class I went down to the wigs and makeup room. So all of our wigs are made in-house by our lovely team of Harriet and Lizzie. And today I was having a fitting for my Magnifique, or the evil fairy, headpiece from Beauty & the Beast and also my sister's wig, also from Beauty & the Beast.
But I find it so bizarre to see myself with this colour and this style of hair, but I guess that is the fun of wigs.
Then I had a little bit of free time, so I went up to an available studio just to work on a couple of things which I was finding challenging. It's good to do this kind of thing when you have extra time.
Saeka was here as well.
And then it was lunchtime.
In the afternoon I had a Tiler Peck rehearsal and we actually had Tiler on Zoom today, which was fun. So she's in America, but using Zoom, we're still able to have her coaching us.
So here we are listening to her commentary and going through some of the sections with her corrections.
After that I had a rehearsal for Hans Van Manen and just the pas de deux upstairs with Jack, and then it was straight into one with the rest of the group downstairs.
At the end of the day, taking off my pointe shoes feels so good.
I got ready to leave the building fairly quickly because I was going into town today to meet Gemma for dinner.
We had a really nice time and some lovely food and on my walk home the moon was so gorgeous.
When I got home I had a tea and I read my book for a little bit and then it was time to roll out, call my family and head to bed.
It is Friday and we are having a long weekend this weekend because it's a bank holiday. So instead of our usual six day week, today is actually our last day of the week.
After breakfast and picking up my outfit, I headed to work.
Here I am ready for the day hauling my big backpack around. And if you've ever wondered what I'm carrying around here all the time, this is what's in there.
There are some essentials like toe tape and toe pads and scissors and second skin, etc. And then I have lots of options of pointe shoes and leg warmers, usually a spare skirt, some physio equipment, trainers, a water bottle, and often other random items.
But I did it pretty well today.
I did my activation warm up exercises before class and I went downstairs.
This morning we had Christelle [Horner] for class and everyone is looking forward to the bank holiday weekend, the last day before a three day weekend.
I can't wait to be ready for some time on the other days.
My first rehearsal of the morning was for Adagio Hammerklavier and we did a run through because our shows are coming up
pretty soon, so it's time to start building that stamina.
And when that was done, I had Sprites rehearsal downstairs.
So the sprites are from Beauty & the Beast and it's a really fun camaraderie kind of piece to dance with the other girls.
It was another really lovely summer day. So at lunch time I headed up to the balcony on the fifth floor.
Rehearsal after lunch was a zoom rehearsal with Tiler mostly focused on other casts so I watched that and listened, and before I could call it a week, I needed to do my last set of exercises for physio, trying to keep myself nice and strong.
And then I iced with Dominique [Larose] and I ran into Archie [Sherman].
How are you feeling about a three day weekend? I think he's excited.
Let's get into that sun.
I grabbed a pair of pointe shoes too, so on the weekend and I was off.
I did something a bit different this Friday evening because we had some time.
I’ve always really wanted to make a lemon meringue pie, and so I did that for the first time following my mum's recipe, and I think it turned out pretty well for a first attempt. I was pretty excited.
Look at those peaks!
My partner and I also decided to make something a bit different for dinner to start the bank holiday weekend off right.
So we made some homemade pork tacos in the slow cooker and they were unreal.
I turned on the projector for a little Netflix thing. I Facetimed my sister and started settling down for bed.
It had been a very full week, but that's the way I like them.
I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride this week.
We can't wait to tour and share our hard work with you really soon.
Thanks for watching.