At a recent Tuesday night showing of Queen of the Night, a gorgeous woman led me up a back staircase, blindfolded me, and then lightly stroked my inner arm while breathing heavily in my ear. That was after my husband and I were positioned with our backs turned to each other on opposite sides of a platform and each given broken shards of a mirror to watch the same woman, this time with a male companion, dance erotically between us, making suggestive eye contact.
None of that shocked me…but the actors’ core strength truly did.
The show, inside the restored historic Diamond Horseshoe nightclub in the basement of the Paramount Hotel in Times Square, is an interactive theater experience, or a “dark debutante ball,” from the producer of the famed Sleep No More.
There’s a plot, but the real excitement comes from wondering what the hell is going to happen next and marveling at the decor, costumes, and the acrobats’ crazy feats of physical strength, which make the hardest yoga pose look like child’s play.
I’m talking one-armed handstands on top of handstands, scorpion poses stacked on top of wheel poses, and incredible aerial moves like spinning from a hoop supported only by the back of the neck (like the photo above). So it’s no surprise that cast members have been fitness instructors at Body & Pole, Flybarre, and other workout spots around town. We caught up with two of the fiercely fit, talented performers to find out more. —Lisa Elaine Held
Courtney Giannone, Siren (Pictured, below)
Her workouts: Cross training and body maintenance
I teach Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis at Village Gyrotonic in the West Village. I also teach Cyr wheel at various NYC dance studios. I continue to train Cyr wheel, outside of the theater, ideally twice a week for six hours total. I dedicate half of my training to learning new skills and the other half to undoing faulty movement patterns and bad habits.
I love cross training. I walk about eight miles per day, five times a week, and I try to walk over 10 miles at least once a week. I keep a consistent practice of Gyrotonic and dance for flexibility, tone, and for fun. Through Queen of the Night, I also see a physical therapist once a week for body maintenance.
What’s on her plate: Fiber in the morning, protein before the show
I’m a vegetarian. I make sure I am neither hypoglycemic or full before performances. I eat something fibrous in the mornings, a protein bar before shows, and something hearty with vegetables afterwards.
Rebekah Burke, Siren, aerialist (Pictured at top, dangling from her neck)
Her workouts: All hoop, all the time
I privately coach Aerial Hoop on a freelance basis. Before I started the show, I was training aerial about four hours a day, six days a week at a circus gym and then working out at a regular gym for an hour. Every day I practice on my hoop, and I’m sure to get several good spins in, otherwise my body awareness in the air is not where it should be for the show.
When training aerial, I condition (leg lifts, pike, pull-ups, etc.), practice holding a variety of hangs (neck hangs, toe hangs, elbow hangs), run through sequences and work on cleaning them up, and then lastly, I run straight through my act about three times to build up endurance for when I’m performing.
What’s on her plate: Protein, and protein
I try to consume as much protein as I can. The greatest advice I ever received was from my coach who told me to, “go to the grocery store, buy a rotisserie chicken, and eat it.”
Another interesting location for fitness feats? How about taking your yoga practice to a brewery? Pints to follow!
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