Here's your chance to live vicariously through a professional ballerina.
Fayetteville native Kaley Kirkman is in her second season with Ballet Arkansas. She studied at the Northwest Arkansas Conservatory of Classical Ballet where she pursued training in The Royal Academy of Dance. In 2015, Kirkman was accepted into the Texas Ballet Theater School's Professional Division.
For the 2016/17 season, Kaley joined Ballet Arkansas as an apprentice and was given the opportunity to perform the principal part in George Balanchine’s "Valse Fantaisie."
Kirkman is currently preparing for "Tour de Force" at the UA-Pulaski Tech CHARTS theater on Saturday, Feb. 16-18. We chatted with her about a typical day in the life of a Ballet Arkansas dancer.
What time do you typically wake up?
KK: I’m usually up by about 6:15 or 6:30. I like plenty of morning time!
What’s your morning routine?
KK: I do like to take a quick shower right away, just to wake me up. I usually do my hair and makeup before breakfast and watch YouTube videos or Netflix while I get ready. One of my favorite go-to breakfasts is steel cut oats topped with fruit, chia seeds and a spoonful of almond butter. I also like to make a protein shake in the mornings to drink after the gym.
Once you’ve had your morning ritual, where are you off to next?
KK: After breakfast, I get dressed and head to the gym at 7:30. I’ve been taking a fitness class at the athletic club with one of the other dancers. It finishes up around 9, and while we get changed and ready, we use that time to talk about how our week is going. Then I’m off to the studio for class at 10!
What do you do from noon-5 p.m.?
KK: Currently we’re preparing for "Tour de Force," which is Feb. 16-18 at the Pulaski Tech CHARTS Theater. It’s always fun doing mixed rep shows because one hour of rehearsal we could be doing something totally contemporary and the next be in pointe shoes working on something very classical. This show has a good balance of both.
Our rehearsal time starts right after class and we rehearse until 3. Every day is different for me, so one day I could have rehearsals from 11:05 to 3 with little breaks here and there, or I could have only one or two hours of rehearsal and be done for the day. With "Tour de Force" right around the corner, most of us have pretty full days.
If I do happen to have longer breaks between rehearsals, I use that time to review choreography or stretch and keep my body warm and ready to go for my next rehearsal. As soon as 3 hits though, I grab my stuff and head off to my next job. I work at Footlights Dance Store and teach at Irby Dance Studio in the evenings.
What about lunch?
KK: Because we’re only in the studio 10-3, we don’t have a typical lunch break. After finishing up class at around 11, I like to eat a little snack — usually a protein bar. My favorite is the No Cow Bar; those are super filling and yummy and keep me going for the next several hours of rehearsal. I like to keep other snacks in my dance bag, too, like nuts or fruit to snack on throughout the day.
What’s your nightly routine?
KK: Usually in the evenings I like to just chill and wind myself down, especially the nights I get home after 8 p.m. I don’t have any specific routine, just because each night differs for me. I’ll eat dinner and watch TV or review any choreography that I need to before the next day. I absolutely must shower every night before bed. That kind of helps wind me down too.
What’s a typical dinner like for you? Do you cook at home or pick something up?
KK: I love cooking! So I definitely wait until I get home and make myself dinner. If I’m having a particularly long day, I’ll stop and grab something quick, but I’d much rather cook my own dinner. I love experimenting and just throwing random things together! I like using a lot of fruits and veggies, and just try to keep it as fresh as possible.
How do you like to end your day?
KK: Before sleep, I like to spend a few minutes either reading or I’ll watch more YouTube videos or a TV show. I’ve really been into "Project Runway" —super random, but maybe secretly I want to be a fashion designer or just wear all the fancy clothes!
When are you usually in bed?
KK: I try to be in bed by around 10 or 10:30 so that I get plenty of sleep in order to wake up and do it all again!
For more info about Tour de Force, head to the Ballet Arkansas website.