BLOCH influencer and Principal dancer Christine Shevchenko reveals an exclusive insight into her dazzling dance career!
Coming from a long line of athletes – her father was a gymnast and her mother a dancer – it’s no surprise that ballerina Christine Shevchenko would too inherit the athleticism, talent and drive required to carve a dance career. But while the Ukrainian-American dancer started out as an aspiring rhythmic gymnast, she admits she had her heart set on ballet from an early age.
“I think I really knew [I wanted to pursue a career in ballet] around the age of 10 when I would get so excited to go to ballet class,” the star recalls. “All I could think about was ballet! When people started realising I had a talent for it, that was when I gave it all I’d got.”
Joining American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in 2006, Shevchenko steadily rose through the ranks becoming soloist in 2014, before being promoted to Principal dancer in 2017, as (along with fellow ballerina Devon Teuscher) the company’s youngest female Principal dancer.
After three years as a soloist, her debut leading role with the company was Kitri in Don Quixote and she's since garnered an impressive repertoire, with roles including: Polyhymnia in Apollo, Gamzatti and a Shade in La Bayadère, Milkmaid in The Bright Stream, the Fairy Summer in Cinderella, Lead Mazurka/Czardas in Coppéliaa and Italian Princess in Swan Lake.
So as no stranger to big performances, just how demanding is her schedule? And what rituals must she complete to remain at the top of her game? We caught up with the Principal dancer and BLOCH influencer to find out! Here she shares an insight into her prep, her top tips for aspiring dancers and of course her BLOCH must-haves!
When did you know you wanted to become a dancer?
The first clue was when my mum brought me backstage to a performance of Sleeping Beauty in Ukraine. I stood in the wing and watched for three hours straight — I was hypnotised by the beauty of dance and music.
What is your typical day-to-day routine like?
My day begins at 8 a.m. I love coffee so that’s the first thing I’ll have when I get out of bed. We have warm up class at the American Ballet Theatre studios from 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 am, then at noon our rehearsals begin and go on until 7 p.m. During weeks with no performance, we work Tuesday through to Saturday, but when we’re in season we work six days a week. Before I go to bed I always take an Epsom Salt bath, it helps me unwind and relax my muscles.
How do you get ready for a big performance?
I’ll have an hour or two of rehearsals earlier in the day, then I love to go home and rest, maybe take a nap. I drink lots of water and electrolytes the day before and the day off to prevent muscle cramping. I also eat lots of bananas! I come in about two and a half hours before the performance begins to warm up and get my hair and makeup done. A good playlist is a must! In the weeks leading up to the performance, I like to lock down the technical aspects of the role so that I can focus on the character and the artistic qualities — it's so important when carrying a full-length ballet.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The biggest highlight was being promoted to Principal ballerina with ABT. I also really enjoyed getting to perform Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.
Talk us through your dance career so far.
My journey began at three years old with Rythmic gymnastics training at an Olympic reserved school in Ukraine; ballet classes were required and that was my first introduction into ballet. My family moved to America when I was seven, and at the age of eight I decided to do ballet full time, so my mum enrolled me into the Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet. I trained there for eight years, completing trained in both The Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet and Balanchine. At 14, I was the youngest recipient of the Princess Grace Award recipient, and also won the Gold Medal at Moscow International Ballet Competition. I won Bronze at Jackson, Mississippi International Competition and won the George Zoritch Talent recognition award. At 17 I joined ABT’s Studio company, then more than a year later joined the main company. I worked my way through corps roles, soloist roles and was finally promoted to Principal dancer in 2017.
How do you take care of your feet?
I’ll usually ice my feet at the end of the day if they become swollen, along with regular Epsom Salt soaks.
What is your exercise regime like?
I do Gyrotonic exercises once or twice a week as I love what it does for my body. If I have a role that requires a lot of stamina, then I’ll also do some cross training.
How do you stay fit and healthy?
My body is my tool and without it functioning properly I can’t do my job, so I eat lots of organic foods. I take vitamins too, turmeric is a must. I have massages on a regular basis and I'm a big fan of cryotherapy. I'm also now an ambassador for Rapid Reboot, a compression pant company — I swear by them. They help with circulation, inflammation and muscle recovery so I’ll usually put them on in the evening.
What are your favourite BLOCH products?
The Warm Up Booties!
What’s your favourite BLOCH leotard?
Which BLOCH shoes do you wear and what do you love about them?
I wear Balance European Pointe Shoes custom-made to my preferences. I love how they mould to my feet and how consistent they are.
What tips would you give to young aspiring dancers?
Anything is possible, as long as you put the work in. Follow your heart — if you love something then go for it and give it all you’ve got.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love to bake and cook as I find it meditative, it relaxes me and clears my mind. I also love getting outside and surrounding myself with nature.
Finally, what is your next career aspiration?
My next aspiration is to guest worldwide. I dream of performing in Paris, London and Russia.
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