Making it big within the dance industry demands strength, stamina and unwavering determination – something that Principal of The Royal Ballet Yasmine Naghdi is living proof of. The professional dancer and BLOCH ambassador began her ballet career training at The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge and Upper School, and has since risen through the ranks of ballet, dancing such famous roles as Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.
So just what does it take to reach such success, and how does she spend her dancing days? We caught up with Yasmine to find out what a typical day for her is like, how she prepares for a big performance, and her must-have BLOCH products!
As a child I could never sit still, I always had to be on the move. I started doing gymnastics aged five, but my parents panicked when they saw me doing backflips by the time I was seven! I first tried ballet because my best friend took classes and I fell instantly in love with it. Dancing gave me inspiration and was a wonderful way to express myself. Once I felt my ballet teachers believed in me and I started getting good roles in The Royal Ballet School performances, this gave me the confidence to believe in myself. The positive working process made me strive to become better every day. Training is a long and hard process with many hurdles and setbacks, so you need to build mental strength and self-motivation.
When did you know you wanted to be a ballet dancer?
What is your day-to-day routine like?
I arrive at the Royal Opera House by 9:30 a.m. and head to my dressing room to prepare for company class and the day ahead. I’ll either do Pilates beforehand or just go directly to the studio to do my warm-up and stretching. Class starts at 10:30 a.m. and finishes at 11:45 a.m.. I have a 15-minute break, then go straight into another studio to work with my coach and rehearse for upcoming roles. If I have an evening performance, I'll finish rehearsing by 5:30 p.m. and have an early dinner, otherwise I may continue my rehearsals until 6:30 p.m. after which I'll go home and relax.
How do you prepare for a big performance?
Once I finish my afternoon rehearsals, I’ll eat a nutritious meal to give me energy for performance, then go into my dressing room to do my make-up. If I need a specific hairstyle — like for the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy or Juliet — then a member of our amazing wig team comes to my dressing room to do my hair. Whilst getting ready, I prepare my feet wearing my BLOCH Warm Up booties and an all-in-one warm-up outfit, before going to the studio to stretch. Once I feel warm, I return to my dressing room, put on my tutu or costume and head to the stage. Here I get into my zone as I don’t like to wait in the wings for too long. A few minutes before I’m due to go on stage, I jog from my dressing room to the wings, then it's ready, steady, go!
Can you share some of your personal career highlights?
The first was dancing Olga in John Cranko's Onegin when I was a corps de ballet member. Another was dancing Juliet in Kenneth Macmillan's Romeo & Juliet when I was a soloist, as well as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty when I had just been promoted to first soloist. My stand out moment was dancing Odette/Odile in Swan Lake just after I had been promoted to Principal.
How do you take care of your feet?
I never have pedicures as I want to keep the skin on my heel and toes hard, so they feel well cushioned when I’m dancing in pointe shoes. I like to practice barre in socks, so I can feel the muscles in my feet working properly. I always do centre work on pointe to ensure my muscles are well activated for a full day of rehearsals. The one thing I suffer with is bruised big toenails, so I always pad them with a Big Toe Cushion — they really save my toenails!
What’s your exercise regime like?
Daily company class consisting of barre and centre work, Pilates and working in the practice studio with a coach if I need to work on specific areas on my body. A ballet such as Don Quichote or Firebird requires many jumps, so I may work on strengthening those particular muscles needed for jumping. I’ll also work with weights in the gym to target weaker areas that need attention.
What are your favorite BLOCH products?
BLOCH leggings are really cool! They are so flattering and I like the sporty look. I also love my BLOCH Resistance Band as it’s the perfect strength for the foot exercises I complete before the rehearsal day gets going.
Which BLOCH shoes do you wear?
I wear custom-made BLOCH pointe shoes tailored to my specifications. I have Heritage soles* as they provide the best stability when balancing flat on one leg. My shoes are very similar to the Serenade Pointe Shoe I used to wear as a student at The Royal Ballet School.
Which style of BLOCH leotard is your favorite?
My favorite leotard is from BLOCH’s new collection. It’s lilac with a zip at the front and floral pattern on the back. The style is comfortable and looks very elegant.
*We recommend you be fitted by our professional BLOCH pointe shoe fitters each time you purchase a new pair of pointe shoes to make sure they fit perfectly. An appointment must be booked in advance of every fitting.
Shop Yasmine's favorites and the full BLOCH dancewear range now!