Thursday, 11 August 2016

Guest Interview - English National Ballet Dancer Joshua McSherry-Gray

Tell us about yourself
I’m a dancer with English National Ballet (London) about to enter my 8th season with the company. My daily routine starts at 10:15am. We begin every day with a Ballet class, warming up at the ‘Barre’ for around 45 minutes. It's designed to slowly get the body going by warming up the muscles and gaining flexibility. Throughout the ‘barre’, the exercises become increasingly harder and more challenging. Then we start to train in the centre for balance, coordination and orientation. This consists of pirouettes and finishing the class with Grand Allegro (big jumps). 
We then have rehearsals throughout the day for the upcoming production.  On rehearsal days we finish the day at 6:30pm, however show days can be very difficult and long. We often finish at 10:30pm for weeks, if not months at a time during production time.
I am massively passionate about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ and the social media side of ballet. I have a great pride in connecting with people and showing everyone the reality/hard work it takes to be a professional ballet dancer. 
I created as a platform for dancers to showcase their own view on ballet. I release monthly interviews with dancers from all around the world. I also created a space for bloggers to increase and further their audience with topics all related to ballet. I have an instant access to 25K+ followers across my @BalletFriends social platforms. I get a real kick from knowing that I started with (0) and now I have built an audience that are loyal and passionate.
I’m also very enthusiastic about travelling the world and seeing different cultures and cities. I consider myself very lucky to have seen many parts of the world on tour with English National Ballet. 
The past two years have been amazing! I’ve been to China, Singapore, Colombia, Oman, Paris, Spain, and some fantastic cities throughout the UK. 
What type of supplementary training do you do? What benefits have you seen from this training?
I do a lot of body weight ratio training in the gym at work, 3-4 times a week. I work a lot with a square standing frame where I can do pull-ups and bench press for chest and torso strength. We have a personal trainer at English National Ballet who keeps an eye on us all the time. Many of us have tailored and specific programs made for us. 
I feel great benefits from building strength in the gym. It really helps with partnering, especially roles which require having to lift a lady above your head with locked out arms. Many roles require having to hold partners for many minutes at a time while supporting their whole body weight. I do a lot of neck strengthening and rotation cuff strengthening. It's common for male dancers to get injured from partnering. The durability and endurance during a Pas de deux ‘partnering’ can be extremely difficult at times. I have also danced roles which have required me to lift other men. Using the gym in a controlled manor and with perfect form can have huge benefits on a classical ballet body. 
At what age or stage in your dance career did you realise supplementary training was necessary?
My initial realisation of how supplementary training is completely necessary to a ballet dancer was about three years ago. As a dancer with English National Ballet we perform at the Royal Albert Hall. It is a vast venue in comparison to many other theatres. Everything is twice as hard for stamina because it is such a big space. 
I have recently introduced HIIT training ‘high intensity interval training’ to my routine. I feel this has really improved my durability and endurance for high impact ballet, especially for shows.
What is the support system like at the English National Ballet for dancer’s health?
The sports science team at English National Ballet is excellent! English National Ballet and GJUUM LTD work very closely and seamlessly to support the dancers with sports science. We have constant measurement of our fitness throughout our season. We also have annual tests, so we can compare results from different years to see how we have progressed in certain areas. 
Do you feel there is a different attitude towards supplementary training between male and female ballet dancers?
There are definitely differences between the male and female training programs. For example, the men will do a lot of weight training to gain maximum strength for partnering and leg training for stabilisation in landing jumps. The ladies often stick to core stability exercises and body weight ratio exercises to keep/gain strength without bulking. Even though our exercises may be different in certain ways the structure for all employees are the same.
How do you juggle all you do and make time for supplementary training?
Sometimes it can be difficult to train as our timetable can be extremely busy and heavy on the body. I often make a great effort to train in the morning before work starts or at the end of the day if I still have the energy.
What supplementary training do you do on tour? 
A member of the GJUUM LTD sports science team is always with us on tour, whether it's national or international touring.
What is your favourite strength or aerobic exercise to perform?
I really enjoy doing pull-ups as I feel it really helps me with my back, arm and grip strength. I also enjoy doing HIIT cardio on the rowing machine.
What is your least favourite strength or aerobic exercise to perform?
I have to say I don't enjoy exercises which involve my lower back. I've had some back injuries and spasms in the past. I now take extra care and I'm very cautious about my form when I strengthen my back with exercises. This used to be a challenge for me however I now feel like my patience has paid off and I have overcome my phobia.
How can we find you on social media?
I’m very active on my social media accounts.
Here you can follow my life and daily routine as a professional ballet dancer - 

Behind the scenes with Joshua...


Joshua McSherry-Gray and Juan Rodriguez.

Ballet barres to Barbells ...

Bruising from partner work.

Back stage at Sadler's Wells with MAC makeup team before #ENBSheSaid



© Performance Sports Therapy. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig