Company dancer, Ana Maria Spear, gives us a sneak peak into the very busy life of a professional dancer during Nutcracker season!
Ballet Arizona dancer Ana Maria Spear in costume for Dew Drop in Ib Andersen’s “The Nutcracker.”
Ana Maria’s Day:
8:30 am – It’s time to get up! I always begin with breakfast, and today it’s my usual eggs, so I have enough energy to get through a long day ahead.
10:30 am – I get all my things prepped and head straight for theater – it’s a 45 minute drive for me to Symphony Hall.
11:30 am – Arrive at the theater and now it’s time to get dressed for company class on stage and get my pointe shoes on.
12:00 pm – Time for technique class! Before every performance we always take a company class. Since it’s a two-show day, it’s especially important to get your body moving and warmed up to help prevent injuries.
1:15 pm – We have a 45 minute break before show time. During this time, I will put my makeup on and do my hair. I make sure I have everything I need ready to go for the show which means pointe shoes, costumes, and head pieces. For the matinee performance I am dancing Snowflake Corps.
2:00 pm – It’s show time!
4:00 pm – The matinee show is over. Now it’s time for some dinner and a quick nap before the evening show.
5:30 pm – Back to the stage for technique class and get my body warmed up again after our break.
6:45 pm – Touching up my makeup so I feel fresh and ready for the show.
7:30 pm – Curtain goes up for the evening performance. Tonight I am performing Dew Drop! Since I don’t come on until Act II, I make sure to keep my body moving so my muscles don’t get cold. I also take time to run through the choreography backstage before I go on.
9:30 pm – Shows are over and now it’s time to go home, sleep, and prep for the next day of full shows!
Ana Maria Spear in Ballet Arizona’s “The Sleeping Beauty.” Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.
What prompted you to pursue a career as a ballet dancer?
I love ballet, it’s my passion. I am originally from Payson, Arizona and with older brothers, I grew up the biggest tomboy ever. To help balance me out, my mom enrolled me in the White Mountain Dance Academy in Show Low. I immediately fell in love with ballet and have dreamed of becoming a ballerina since I was 5 years old. As my dancing progressed, a dance teacher recommended I attend The School of Ballet Arizona (SBAZ) and I am so grateful my parents agreed because it became a huge time commitment. Three days a week, my parents picked me up after school in Payson and drove all the way to Ballet Arizona’s studios in Phoenix. After four years of doing this, my family made the hard decision to move to Mesa to make my training easier. I am so blessed to have such an amazing family who loves and supports me. During my training at SBAZ, I was able to perform with Ballet Arizona alongside our incredible professional dancers. Then, during my last year with The School of Ballet Arizona, I earned a professional contract with Ballet Arizona and have been with the company since. I am honored to be able to do what I love at Ballet Arizona. I love the way ballet makes me feel, I am more myself when I am dancing than anything else. I also love that I get to share my joy with the audiences. There is nothing better.
Show weeks, especially for The Nutcracker are non-stop. How do you take care of your body?
Ballet is a rough career and taking care of your body can be a difficult thing. However, I do a lot of icing/ice baths and try to get as much rest as I can possibly get. On top of that, I use a foam roller and massage my muscles to make sure they aren’t as tight. In the past, I have had ankle injuries but thankfully, I didn’t have to completely stop dancing. I had a wonderful therapist help me through and get my ankle stronger.
This is your first time performing the role of Dew Drop in The Nutcracker. What has it been like preparing for this role?
Ever since I was 9 years old, I have wanted to dance Dew Drop. It has always been my favorite role in Ib’s version of The Nutcraker. Preparing for this role has been really neat and I have really enjoyed working with the artistic staff. Of course, this means lots of rehearsals and sweat, but it has all been worth it.
Who are some of your greatest dance inspirations?
Some of my biggest inspirations are Ballet Arizona dancers, current and former, like Jillian Barrell, Kenna Draxton, Poala Hartly, Natalia Magnicabelli and Amber Lewis. I would also say Marianela Nuñez, who is with The Royal Ballet. These beautiful ladies inspired me every day of my life growing up but also inspire me still.
Ballet Arizona dancers in costume for Waltz of the Flowers and Ana Maria Spear (center) in costume for Dew Drop for Ib Andersen’s “The Nutcracker.”