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Black Swan

Meet the Trainer Behind Natalie Portman’s Oscar-Winning Workout

Written on March 2, 2011 at 5:34 pm , by

If you saw the movie Black Swan you knew Natalie Portman was a shoe-in for the Best Actress Oscar. What you didn’t see was the intense ballet lessons and training that Natalie went through to prepare to play the perfect Swan Queen. I caught up with Natalie’s high-in-demand trainer, Mary Helen Bowers, to talk ballet, pliés, and the big win!

Mary Helen Bowers, founder of Ballet Beautiful

What are some misconceptions about ballerinas? So many people think they’re too thin, but they do have that sleek, strong body we all try to achieve!

I think the biggest misconception about a ballerina is that you have to be on an extreme diet or training regimen to sculpt that toned, graceful shape. But a ballerina’s body is an incredible combination of strength and artistry—it’s not about how thin you are. Ballerinas have a very specific, unique body shape because of the way in which we train and build muscle. This elegant yet powerful body shape is attainable for all women though! You do not have to spend hours a day in a gym or ballet studio to achieve it.

How has ballet helped shape your life?

Ballet has been a HUGE part of my life from a very young age. I just always loved dancing and when I was really young I made up my mind that I just had to dance in New York City—so I left my family in Charlotte, North Carolina when I was just 15 years old to attend the School of American Ballet in New York. The following year I was invited to join the New York City Ballet! I was just starting my junior year in high school, so it was a really exciting time. I danced with the NYCB for 10 years and then founded Ballet Beautiful, an online global studio. My first studio location opens this spring down in Soho, NYC.

Read on for Bowers’s favorite sculpting moves — plus behind-the-scenes stories from Natalie’s training! Read more