With a petite frame and a sweet heart-shaped face, Anastasia Limenko could pass for a teenager. But the principal dancer at Moscow’s Stanislavsky Ballet has been a force to be reckoned with, ever since she shot to prominence partnering superstar Sergei Polunin in Mayerling in 2013. This performance (called “historic” by dance critics) happened when Limenko was just a year and a half out of ballet school, and already a First Soloist. Clearly, Limenko is naturally gifted—but her signature ultra-clean fouettés were not made by talent alone. Read on for her incredibly inspiring training routine and equally dedicated vegan diet!
Limenko’s day starts with stretching, warming up, and conditioning at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m., she takes the company class (all in pointe shoes!). Afterwards, she absconds to the fitness room where she adds cardio and weight training. “You need to keep your body in check, every day, because your body quickly goes out of shape. One, two days and you’re out of shape, and it’s hard to get back,” she says, in an interview with Ballet Insider. “That’s why I try to stick to some complex routine daily. Like ab exercise, leg exercise. It really helps. Even classes seem easy when you’re doing such routines daily.”
Amazingly, instead of going out for a massive vegan burrito like I would, Limenko then heads to 12:30 p.m. rehearsal for that evening’s show. “I try to analyze—which muscles work in which cases, what I need to do to improve each movement. And it comes to you. IT comes slowly but you can’t just practice for the sake of practice alone. If you practice mindlessly, you will lose the technique and movements will only get worse.” Woah, #truth!
By 5 p.m., Limenko is backstage getting ready for the evening’s performance. The curtain goes up at 7 p.m., and Limenko spends the next few hours powering through Swan Lake, Don Quixote and other productions before going to bed and starting the process all over again.
To stay energetic through her insanely demanding schedule, Limenko relies on healthy, whole plant-based eating. Her ideal breakfast is oatmeal with blueberries (and sometimes a scoop of almond butter) and a vegan latte. For lunch or dinner, she has a few favorite dishes. A grapefruit, avocado, and arugula salad with seeds; roasted broccoli with sliced almonds; a fruit salad with blueberries, bananas, mango, kiwi, and almond butter; a vegan platter of turmeric rice, tomatoes, spinach, avocado, cabbage, pumpkin seeds, and shredded carrots. For snacks, she enjoys plant protein shakes or apples with peanut butter.
“I came to this kind of nutrition intuitively, almost 9 years ago And it seems to me that in the realities of modern life it is not only easy, but perhaps necessary for us and our planet. If you are interested in this topic, but do not know where to get inspiration and some basic understanding, I advise you to watch the movie The Game Changers / Tipping Point,” she says on Instagram.
Doesn’t that all sound like super-charged ballerina food? With such a clean diet, it seems inevitable that she would have energy for days and a finely chiseled physique. But, to show that she’s also human, Limenko also sometimes has cake for breakfast. (Thank goodness.)
Limenko is a dedicated animal lover, cat mom, equestrian, and an environmentalist. She has even started a pointe shoe recycling program at her company!
“I think people who are far from nature get irritated easily. But when a human sees nature, feels its power, he calms down and gets inspired by it. It gives you power to wake up every day positively and share this feeling with others,” she notes. Nature is a source of endless inspiration and energy for Limenko. “Because when you’re positive-minded, no matter what’s going on in your life, it makes your life so much easier. It makes your work so much easier, and you just don’t get tired.” Truly, Anastasia Limenko defines “force of nature.”
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Photo: Anastasia Limenko via Instagram