The Rockettes are back in action, kicking their legs to high heaven, and bringing joy to all who walk through the doors of Radio City Music Hall. Each dancer does almost 300 (!) kicks per show, and up to four shows per day—a feat accomplished only through training, preparation, and a whole lot of adrenaline. Which makes sleep both essential, and a little elusive for the 80 dancers in the troupe.
“Everyone has their own process for winding down,” Rockette Soultana Schiavi says. “It’s part of the job—we love to come to work each day and share our tips and tricks with each other.”
Since booking the gig in 2019, Schiavi has been experimenting with a whole host of strategies, and has developed a nightly routine that works for her all season long. She now relies on a four-point recovery process to help her relax and refuel at the end of every night so that she can come back to the stage at her best to do it all over again the next day.
1. She ices, stretches, and massages her muscles
Schiavi feels passionately about her post-performance cool-down routine. “It’s essential for keeping your body healthy,” she says. Her go-to? Ice baths in the cold whirlpools inside the athletic training facility at Radio City Music Hall. “I like to do at least 10 minutes of icing from the waist down at the end of the day,” she says.
Once home, Schiavi rolls out her sore muscles on a foam roller while watching TV, then puts on YogaToes toe separators. “We have nine different numbers, which means we wear nine different pairs of shoes, most of which are two- to three-inch heels,” she says. “YogaToes help stretch out the muscles in my metatarsals.”
Check out Radio City’s athletic training facility (including the whirlpools!)—and the Rockettes’ training regimen:
2. Skin-care and hair-care is her self-care
In an effort to get her mind off the show, Schiavi spends time on therapeutic hygiene practices. “I use a makeup removing balm by Milk Makeup to take off my show makeup,” she says. “We wear the Rockette Red lipstick that can be hard to get off, and I find rubbing the balm all over my face works really well.”
After more than a month spent with her hair up in a tight french twist and a rotating assortment of fabulous headpieces, Schiavi says her hair is often damaged. To combat this, she likes to use amika hair masks while in the shower. “They’re really nice for hydration,” she says.
3. She refuels based on tomorrow’s demands
Food plays an essential role in Schiavi’s physical recovery. She eats intentionally, not only to support her body after four major workouts, but to give her the energy she will need for the next day. “What I eat at night will depend on how many shows I’m doing tomorrow,” she says. Her favorite post-performance meal is Greek-style pasta with tomato paste and a lot of butter. “It tastes really good!”
4. Family, TV, and a weighted blanket help her sleep
Schiavi finishes each show positively bursting with adrenaline. So when it’s finally time to go to sleep, she has to work hard to calm her body down. “I watch TV, and call friends and family to recap my day,” she says. “Then at night I sleep with a weighted blanket. It sort of suppresses my nervous system a bit so I can rest.”
These strategies help her to get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. “I have to prioritize sleep to keep my brain focused and my body healthy,” she says.