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Busting the Ballet Myths with Breaking Pointe’s Allison DeBona

Written on July 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm , by

DeBona flies through the air during one of her many performances. (Photo courtesy of Erik Ostling/The CW)

Can you imagine working out nine hours a day? Me neither. But that’s what professional ballerinas do Monday through Friday, in addition to strength training, conditioning and technique workshops. Whoa. We got a glimpse of the life of a dancer in the first season of Breaking Pointe, a reality series that follows a group of dancers at Ballet West, a professional ballet company in Salt Lake City, Utah. To kick off the start of the second season on the CW, we chatted with Allison DeBona, one of the dancers featured on the show about what it takes to become a professional dancer and what putting your life on TV is really like.

How did you get started dancing?

When I was three years old, my mom put me in gymnastics and dancing. I gravitated more toward dancing and that was that!

Was there ever a point that you got sick of it?

Yes, I actually quit for a while from 8th grade until junior year of high school.

Wow, that’s a big gap. How did you get back into the scene?

I had always loved ballet and the reasons I walked away from it wasn’t because I didn’t like it, I just had a lot of other stuff going on at that moment. When I went back I was just really determined. I did go to college though–most ballet dancers who try to go professional do it right after high school. My parents and I discussed it and we thought it was best if I went to college since I had taken so much time off. I went to Indiana University and they have a ballet program so I worked hard there and then got a job at 24 years old at Ballet West, which is pretty late age-wise for a ballerina. Read more

Peta Murgatroyd Hopes to Defend Her Title on Season 15 of DWTS

Written on September 14, 2012 at 9:00 am , by

Peta Murgatroyd returns for her third season as a professional parner with Gilles Marini for another chance at winning the coveted Mirror Ball trophy. (Photo courtesy of ABC/Craig Sjodin)

One of the most anticipated television shows of the year, Dancing With The Stars, will be hitting the dance floor again next week for yet another exciting competition but with a new twist—an all-star cast. That’s right! This season will welcome 13 fan favorites and previous winners back to the stage to take the quick footwork and drool-worthy ensembles we love to the next level.

Among the cast is reigning champion, Peta Murgatroyd, who took home the Mirror Ball trophy as Donald Driver’s professional partner. We talked strategy with the Aussie-native, who hopes to continue her winning streak with Season eight’s runner-up, Gilles Marini. Here’s what she had to say about injury prevention, her secrets to looking fab and her favorite indulgence, cheese!

After being the first duo to be sent home Season 13 with Metta World Peace, how did you change your tactics for the win with Donald Driver?

I think that it’s always easier when you have somebody that is willing to learn and willing to put in the effort and the hours. I was devastated when I got out first because it was my first season. I wanted to come out and make a big bang as the new pro on the block but that didn’t really quite happen and I was crushed. I really think that Donald was so inspiring to have as a partner and he really wanted to win it. It’s just all about how you guys work together and the communication.

What have you been doing in preparation for another victory, this time with Gilles Marini?

One of the biggest things is respect for one another and I think [Gilles] has that. He’s an amazing person. He can definitely move well. I looked back on some of his old YouTube videos and he was really good. One of his major pros is that he can act so he’s great with getting into character and really sort of honing in on what the dance is about.

Gilles suffered from a separated shoulder during his season. How do you prevent injury?

Warm-up is key and cool-down is key. I can’t even start dancing until stretching first. I think that’s from the ballet background that I’ve had for 12 years. We didn’t take a step without making sure our feet were flexed and pointed and, you know, every muscle was warm. Also, because I’m so flexible with my body, I need to keep it strong and make sure that I do a lot of Pilates, for instance. I do a lot of that and strength training with weights. Read more

Julianne Hough’s Rock of Ages Fitness Routine

Written on June 15, 2012 at 9:21 am , by

Catch Hough in Rock of Ages, then get a personal dance lesson from the star! (Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay)

No pre-filming diet here! Julianne Hough recently revealed to Hitfix.com that she “beefed up some of my exercises and lifted weights” to achieve a slightly curvier look that would fit her character, Sherrie, an aspiring singer in the 1980s in Rock of Ages. Still, after catching a sneak peek of the film earlier this week, we think that Hough has never looked better while performing on stage to tunes like “Rock You Like a Hurricane and “Don’t Stop Believin’.” What other workout keeps her in such amazing shape? Dancing, of course!

The former Dancing With the Stars pro, who recently released a two disc set of her workout DVDs (which our readers love), told us that “everyone can really benefit from dance—men and women of all shapes and sizes. You can definitely see that on Dancing With the Stars. Everyone becomes so toned and fit, even in places they didn’t know could get toned!”

Sherrie fits in plenty of activity by rollerblading, playing at the beach and taking plenty of steps as a waitress, but by the end of the film it’s clear that the character’s true passions match Hough’s—to be a singing and dancing phenomenon.

She thinks you should try her workout of choice because “dance affects every part of your body: shoulders, back, abs, and of course the legs and butt,” Hough says. “You walk away feeling like you’ve learned something and done great things for your body as well.”

Now tell us: Will you see Rock of Ages this weekend? Which member of the star-studded cast (Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Julianne Hough, Russell Brand, Malin Akerman, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones) are you most looking forward to seeing shake it on screen?

More from FITNESS:

Groundbreaking Dancer Misty Copeland on Ballet Bodies and Black Swan

Written on May 25, 2012 at 9:23 am , by

Copeland is an ideal example of flexibility and elegance. (Photo by Gregg Delman)

She didn’t slip on ballerina flats until age 13, but soon after that, Misty Copeland knew her calling. “I was never told that I was too old, but I did have an extremely late start compared to most ballet dancers. It takes a lot of training to do classical ballet,” Copeland says. “I loved it immediately, though, and the first time I stepped on stage, I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.”

Within three months, Copeland was en pointe (dancing on the tips of her toes, as you might think of when you picture a ballerina). By age 17, just four years after she first began training, Copeland was accepted into the prestigious American Ballet Theatre (ABT). She was just the third African American female soloist to join the group.

Copeland, who has now been with ABT for 12 years, is now a part of another selective group: the groundbreaking women highlighted in the PBS/AOL partnership MAKERS. We spoke with the dancer to learn more about her training, whether she feels pressure to look a certain way and how she feels about that recent Oscar-nominated wild ballet film.

  • On the demographics of ballet dancing… “Not many black women succeed in the ballet world because it’s not a big part of American culture. In Europe, people go to ballet or opera like we go to movies. Ballet hasn’t been exposed to the urban community, plus it’s hard for dance companies to accept what they don’t usually see. I’ve had periods when I struggled to get promoted as a soloist.”
  • A typical day of training includes… “My training never ends. Even when we have time off, I take classes daily. Spring is the most intense period, so for six days a week, I train from 10:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and perform in the show from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. And on Wednesday and Saturday, we have two shows a day with rehearsals in between.”
  • How I feel about the ballet body pressure… “Our bodies are our instruments. In an elite company, you have to look a certain way. In football, you wouldn’t have a tiny defender. I’ve learned how to take care of myself by eating right and seeing a physical therapist and massage therapist.”
  • The move that will help you get a ballet body… “To strengthen your legs and work your calf muscles, bring your feet in first position [a 'v' position with heels together and toes apart]. Bend knees into a demi-plie, then straighten legs and lift up to toes.”
  • My reaction to Black Swan “I tried to find the positives in it and similarities to our lives, but it’s just entertainment. In a company, you are a family.”

To hear more from Copeland, check out her videos on makers.com.

ESPN Host Mike Greenberg Lost a Bet…And Takes on Dancing With the Stars

Written on May 8, 2012 at 1:18 pm , by

"Greeny" smiles with partner Anna Trebunskaya at the end of his dance. (Photo courtesy of ESPN, Inc.)

Sure, March Madness pools are nothing new. But the stakes on the line when ESPN’s Mike & Mike get involved crank up the excitement considerably!

This year, Mike Greenberg (AKA Greeny), lost the wager to his co-host Mike Golic and had to perform a cha-cha with Dancing With the Stars pro Anna Trebunskaya live on ESPN2…with one day of practice. We spoke with Greeny, who also recently had a guest hosting gig on Live With Kelly, right before he began training for this morning’s big show to see if we should place our bets on him.

Which is more intimidating: Hosting with Kelly Ripa or dancing on live TV?

It’s about a dead heat, although I wouldn’t say that hosting Live With Kelly was intimidating—it was exciting. Doing this dance is very scary. I have more confidence hosting than dancing!

Have you done much dancing in the past?

I chair dance regularly on the air during our show, but beyond that, my 11-year-old daughter makes me stop. This will be my two-minute reprieve! I basically get one full day of cramming with Anna, and we’ll give it our best shot.

Have any athletes or performers from Dancing With the Stars inspired you?

Look, all of the athletes have been great. I was thrown off the high school chess team for not being athletic enough! In terms of dancing skills, I think Cloris Leachman might be more fair competition than going up against one of the athletes who have been on the show.

To see if Greeny would bet on March Madness again, and to watch the performance itself, click below!

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Dancing With the Stars Pro Peta Murgatroyd Picks Her Top Three Dancers of the Season!

Written on April 30, 2012 at 10:12 am , by

Before DWTS, New Zealand-born Murgatroyd performed in the Broadway show "Burn the Floor." (Photo courtesy of Rod Foster Photography)

Last week on Dancing With the Stars, pro Peta Murgatroyd and her partner, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, aced their fox trot during the Motown challenge. The previous week, they were on the top of the leader board with their paso doble during rock week. It’s beginning to look like this is one of the pairs that will surely be tough to beat!

As they were preparing for the classical challenge tonight, we caught up with Murgatroyd to learn more about her partnership with Driver and what it really takes to pull together those impressive routines.

I predict the three couples in the finals will include… “Fingers crossed, Donald and I will make it! Katherine [Jenkins] has amazing skills and William [Levy] has the fan base. But there are a lot of great dancers this season who could surely go to the end!”

My favorite season so far… “I’ve only been on two, but when I was with Meta World Peace [nee Ron Artest], we were knocked out in the first round. Donald is dedicated, willing to put in the hours and is so kind. We’re working so hard for the mirrorball trophy and are planning to add better skills and harder choreography moving forward.”

To prepare for one show… “We dance at least six hours daily, and sometimes come back in the evening for more. Then Donald goes home to his family—he’s great at balancing it all!”

The cameras don’t catch… “Despite the strong competition, everyone becomes a big family. I’m really good friends with Katherine and Maks [Chmerkovskiy].”

My celebrity dream partner… “Justin Timberlake, Kellan Lutz or George Clooney.” [Editor's note: We're right there with Peta on these picks!]

The theme week I wish we would do… “I love R&B and hip-hop music and would love to dance to that on the show.”

To feel confident in my skimpy outfits… “I just tell myself to suck it up! It does help that I get to work with the designers who make the dress so they take my input into account.”

Now tell us: Which celebrities do you think will make the final cut on this season of DWTS?

Dancing With the Stars Pro Chelsie Hightower Dishes On the New Cast

Written on March 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm , by

Hightower loves moves that target the large muscle groups. (Photo by Denise Crew)

Now that Bachelor Ben proposed to Courtney, it’s time for a new crop of characters to fuel the water cooler talk. Tonight, you’ll see FITNESS cover model Maria Menounos, The View co-host Sherri Shepherd and former “Steve Urkel” Jaleel White, among others, showing off their moves for the premiere of season 14 of Dancing With the Stars.

We caught up with one of the show’s pros, Chelsie Hightower, while she was promoting a Greek Island vacation sweepstakes with Old London to have her handicap the season and fill us in about which dance move we need to be doing to be beach-ready stat!

How are things going so far with your new partner, Disney Channel star Roshon Fegan?

He has a great attitude and our training is going very well. He really wants to have fun and I think that’s the most important thing.

Viewers have questioned whether this season’s cast has the star power to draw ratings, as compared to past seasons. How would you respond?

I actually thought the same thing until I met the cast. There are so many great personalities and the dance skill level is high. Great characters, dancers and storylines behind the pairings are what really shape a season, and I think this cast has all of that.

When we interviewed you for FITNESS previously, you mentioned that your dream partner would be Justin Timberlake. How about if you were the celebrity and could pick your pro partner?

Justin Timberlake would be pretty fantastic! Derek [Hough] is patient and has a great work ethic, so I think I’d go with him.

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Sound Off: Your Early Dancing With the Stars Predictions?

Written on March 1, 2011 at 11:12 am , by

Who will join our former cover star, Chelsie Hightower, on the dance floor this season?

The cast for Season 12 of Dancing With the Stars was announced last night! Missed the news? Here are the celebrities who will train for hours on end and vie for audience votes:

  • Wendy Williams: talk show and radio host
  • Romeo: rapper (formerly known as Lil’ Romeo)
  • Kirstie Alley: actress and former Jenny Craig spokesperson
  • Chris Jericho: pro wrestler
  • Chelsea Kane: Disney actress
  • Sugar Ray Leonard: former pro boxer
  • Petra Nemcova: supermodel
  • Ralph Macchio: actor, best known for The Karate Kid
  • Kendra Wilkinson: reality TV star
  • Hines Ward: NFL wide receiver, once won the Super Bowl MVP award
  • Mike Catherwood: radio show host, currently co-host of “Loveline”

We think that Hines Ward and Sugar Ray will have a “leg up” on their competition due to their quick and athletic feet, and can imagine Chelsea Kane succeeding on the show like her fellow Disney stars (Kyle Massey or Monique Coleman, anyone?). But we love surprises and all of the contestants will be fun to watch! The new season begins on Monday, March 21.

Who do you think will go the distance this season? Who are your picks for the final three?