Belgian born Stina Quagebeur is an artist and choreographer with the English National Ballet. Performing up to 12 times per week, we asked Stina a few questions about her training, her nutritional habits and what led her to become one of our very first clients after our 2016 launch.
Stina, you’ve been ballet dancing and choreographing since you were a little girl. When did you fall in love with ballet?
When I was 3 years old, Swan Lake was on TV on New Year’s day. I apparently watched the whole 3 hour production from my dad’s lap and was completely captivated. A few years passed and ballet quickly became my world. I was often taken to see both ballet and modern dance and started creating and choreographing my own variations when I got home. I didn’t speak much as a child, dancing was my way of expressing myself.
Did you ever practice any other sport or art form?
I enjoyed playing tennis when I was younger but I went to the Royal Ballet School at the age of 11 to train full time. So there was very little time to practise other sports. We had 4 hours of dance training mixed in with our academics every day.
That’s tough. What would you tell that younger version of yourself?
Don’t work for anybody else but yourself. You are your own unit, unique and different to everybody else. Never hold back and dare to fail, it is part of the journey to success.
What does your typical daily or weekly schedule look like now?
I wake up at 7.30am. I will have breakfast at home and prepare my lunch and snacks for the day before leaving work.
At 9.30 I start with Pilates and yoga exercises to warm up before ballet class which runs from 10.15 until 11.45. We will have rehearsals for our upcoming productions in the afternoon until 6.30.
Depending on which ballet we are doing and what it requires, I will always do cardio or strength training in my break in the afternoon.
We train and rehearse 6 days a week and when we perform we can have between 7 and 12 performances per week. This makes training and nutrition a vital part of our lives, as we need to be at our optimum all of the time.
Has your training for ballet dancing evolved over the years?
I was lucky to have been introduced to Pilates at a very early age. I was 9 when I started and it is still part of my routine every day. Cardio, nutrition and strength training came into it much later and, for me, are still evolving all the time.
The exercises I do will change depending on what production is coming up. Some ballets require a higher level of cardiovascular fitness such as Swan Lake, I then tend to see my personal trainer for interval training where he pushes me to my absolute maximum.
Are there different phases through the year?
There are 65 of us at English National Ballet and we train and rehearse at our base in London for each production before it’s performed around the U.K. and internationally. Throughout the year we rehearse and perform up to 7 different productions.
Christmas is our busiest period. It’s Nutcracker time! So for 4 weeks we have 2 performances a day, 6 days a week. It’s vital that you are in top shape before the Christmas season begins as any niggles or small injuries won’t survive the workload.
Does nutrition play an important part in this?
In the ballet world your body shape is part of you as a dancer. You wear skin tight clothing and you are surrounded by mirrors. We strive for the perfect line of the body and your shape will affect your whole look.
10 years ago we had a fitness trainer come in to the company who started telling us about carbohydrate loading and recovery shakes. It was something which was just not done amongst the dancers. Nobody wanted to bulk up and we thought protein powder was just for body builders.
10 years on and it’s become the norm in the company. It’s about our optimum performance now and getting the quickest recovery.
Do you have any nutritional tips or tricks you’ve developed, that you could share with us?
I’ve never liked the synthetic flavoured protein powders, I found it difficult to drink them. I now mix Motion Nutrition protein powder with my smoothie in the morning.
For a quick fix, I always have some small chocolate soya milk cartons in my dressing room that I can mix straight away with a natural protein powder. Add some ice cubes and it’s delicious. It’s the fastest and most nutritious snack I can give myself when I have a dip in energy in the afternoon.
You first started using our products only a few weeks after our launch. What drew you to Motion?
During our most intense performance schedule I was desperately trying to find a natural protein powder. Most of them are so artificially sweet.
Motion Nutrition is exactly what I was looking for. They are the perfect blend of organic superfoods with protein powders, ready for me to throw in my bag so I have them when I need them most. The powders and drinks are natural and delicious and completely support my healthy lifestyle.
If you had to recommend 2 products from our range to a friend, which would they be?