Thanksgiving at the Ballet

The Nutcracker rehearsals are in full swing at the California Ballet! Fresh off the heels of our latest production, Giselle, the dancers have wasted no time preparing for their respective roles in the season’s biggest production. However we dancers aren’t all work and no play for this season also brings one of the company’s biggest events, THANKSGIVING. This holiday is one of only a handful of days off that the company gets from a rigorous schedule of company classes, rehearsals, private coaching sessions and body conditioning exercise. It’s a time for friends, family and most of all FOOD! We checked in with a couple company members to see what a ballet dancer eats during one of our country’s biggest and most indulgent holidays.

Corps Member John Velasco and Soloist Jeremy Zapanta celebrate in a “big” way: 


“We come from big Filipino families where there is way too much food for way too many people. It’s multi generational with friends and family members alike. There is both American food and traditional Filipino cooking always, so everybody’s happy. It’s the best of both worlds. I have one rule though-no rules. I don’t hold back and eat the whole day” says John.   

NewImage“My favorite is Tosilog (cured pork or chicken with garlic fried rice and a sunny side up egg). It’s the best! And here’s plenty because so many people come over for the holiday.” Jeremy says. “It’s like the Filipino cardinal rule to never run out of anything!” 


Corps Member Kayla Jaynes’ Thanksgiving is a little less bombastic: “It’s just my immediate family for Thanksgiving ince all of our other family is spread across the US. I’m always in charge of the mashed potatoes. That’s my contribution!” she laughs. “I get full really easily and only have about one plate of food. I guess that’s good because I don’t really have to watch what I eat!” Her go to: Martinelli’s Apple Cider with pumpkin pie for dessert. Kayla has just turned twenty one last month so perhaps she might add something more than her apple cider to her tradition.


Principal Ballerina Chie Kudo, fresh from her portrayal of Giselle earlier this month, is also looking forward to the holiday. All my family is back in Japan so I’m just going to spend time with my close friends here.” When asked about what she loves to cook up for the holidays she confesses: “I have such a sweet tooth. I love to eat sweet things.” But during Thanksgiving she only has eyes for one thing “I love stuffing!” she says. Speaking of sweet things, Chie will be performing the iconic role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in California Ballet’s The Nutcracker this December. 


New  Principal Ana da Costa confesses that she doesn’t do too much for Thanksgiving. Originally from Brazil where the holiday isn’t really celebrated, she goes on further to explain, “I am just going to spend time with family here but my tradition is to work my appetite all the way up to Christmas. That’s when I eat everything! Well, not everything, I am a vegetarian, almost vegan and I have some wonderful recipes that I have for celebrating the Christmas holiday” she says between company class and her rehearsal for Sugar Plum Fairy.


Although there are a number of both male and female dancers who live on donuts, candy and soda without any consequence, the majority fuel themselves with healthy things that help them perform to the best of their abilities. Moreover it’s a special occasion holiday so the dancers shouldn’t really worry about what or how much they eat though, because it’s back in the studio for Nutcracker rehearsal on Saturday! With only a couple of weeks to go before opening night we are putting the final touches on our production. 

Whatever your plans are for the upcoming festivities we wish you a happy and healthy holiday from California Ballet Company!


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