Dancing Her Way To The Top

Montana Rubin is a regular at Elixr when The Australian Ballet is in town thanks to our partnership with this outstanding company – as a proud Supporting Partner, our members also enjoy exclusive discounts on selected performances (more on the latest one below). We caught up with this passionate dancer, who is fast making a name for herself since joining The Australian Ballet in 2015, to find out about her road to recovery after a serious injury earlier this year, how she stays on top of her game, which role she’d most love to perform, who her favourite Elixr instructor is, and more. Over to you, Montana…

1. Did you always know you would make your passion your career?
Always. When you know, you know, and I always did. I’ve never looked back.

2. What does an average day look like when you’re a) rehearsing and b) performing?
When we’re not performing, I get in around 9am to warm up and prepare my body for the day with Pilates and rehabilitation exercises – I have my own personalised program that evolves throughout the year depending on what my body needs. Our morning class starts at 10:30am and usually lasts an hour and a half. After that, we rehearse from 12:15pm–6:30pm with an hour-and-15-minute break for lunch. I usually end the day in our ice plunge pool – it’s freezing, but I feel much better for it!

When we’re performing, we have an hour-and-15-minute class that starts at 11am. As on any other day, I arrive early to warm up and prepare. After class, we rehearse for the show or upcoming ballets for two and half hours before stopping to rest, recover, fuel our bodies and prepare for the evening’s performance. I arrive at the theatre before our 6.30pm warm-up barre to do my hair and make-up, which usually takes me an hour – I could do it in less, but I enjoy the process and use it as a time to focus, watch Netflix or listen to music. After warming up, I do my final touches before the show starts at 7:30pm. We’re usually done around 10pm, and then it’s home to make a cup of tea, have a bite to eat and get into bed as soon as possible – sleep is priority during a performance season!

3. Which ballet have you most enjoyed performing?
Last year, I was given the opportunity to dance the principal role of Swanhilda in the company’s regional tour of Coppelia. It was a huge physical and mental challenge for me – a three-act ballet is no small feat – but it was the most incredible experience and I enjoyed every moment. I’d performed many other roles in the production previously, as well as variations from the ballet when I was a young, aspiring ballerina, so it was hugely rewarding for me to perform Swanhilda.

4. What is one role you’d love to perform?
There are so many… I’m an absolute sucker for a pure classical ballet and would love to perform Odile/Odette in Swan Lake or Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. But then there are roles like Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Manon that are absolute dream roles too! Honestly, the list is endless.

5. You broke your leg earlier this year. What did your rehabilitation look like?
The rehabilitation process had many ups and downs. I didn’t have a cast and was on crutches in the early stages, but I still did as many of the exercises as I could without putting weight on my leg. Once my leg was able to bear weight again (I was still on crutches at this point), I did some gentle walking, slowly increasing the intensity until I was crutch-free – that took about three weeks.

The Australian Ballet has a world-renowned rehabilitation team and after two months of working with our physiotherapists and conditioning specialists, I was back in the studio one-on-one with our conditioning and rehabilitation coach, Megan Connelly. Megan is so talented at what she does. Even when I couldn’t point my foot or bend my leg, we were still able to work on so much, from my posture and the carriage of my arms to my little toes. It was an exposing experience starting with the absolute basics again, but I used it as an opportunity to refine my technique, correct any habits that crept in and discover a new way of using my body.

Pointe work was the last thing to be added back in – there’s a whole new element of strength, proprioception and confidence that goes into it ¬– and I found it the most frustrating part of my rehabilitation as it was the slowest. After months and months of grit and grind, I joined in rehearsals for upcoming shows which was really rewarding as being injured can be incredibly isolating. It felt wonderful to rehearse with my friends again!

6. How long did it take you to become performance-ready?
About 4-and-a-half months, which in hindsight isn’t that long. I still have a long way to go, but I am so grateful to be back on the stage again. I missed it.

7. What is your exercise of choice (besides dancing, of course!)?
I love swimming. I was a competitive swimmer when I was younger and really enjoy being in the water – it’s also an excellent great low impact exercise. You’ll also find me sweating it out on the bike or taking a HIIT, boxing or reformer class when my schedule permits. I did yoga for a while and loved it, so I’d like to do more of that too.

8. What are some of your top tips for staying healthy?
To me, staying healthy means doing whatever you can to optimise your mental and physical wellbeing. I believe strongly in quality over quantity. Get moving outdoors, sweat it out in the studio with a friend, or take time to meditate and be mindful. That, along with sufficient sleep, a balanced diet and some necessary rest and recovery time, helps me to feel my best and stay healthy.

9. What inspires you?
I’m in the studio every day with such talented, creative and inspiring people that it’s nearly impossible not to constantly be learning and inspired. Outside of that, it’s the people I see or read about who are changing the world for the better. There are some trailblazers out there and I admire the stand and commitment they make to addressing important issues.

10. What are your #lifegoals?
It’s simple: At the end of the day I just want to be happy, healthy, challenged and loved.

11. Do you have a favourite quote or mantra you live by?
I’ve always loved the Nelson Mandela quote, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” It’s really easy to doubt yourself when you’re faced with a challenge, but we all have the potential to surprise ourselves and, with hard work and commitment, we should trust that we can achieve our goals.

12. When you’re not doing dancing, you’re…?
Spending time with my friends or family, scouting a new favourite brunch spot, cooking or doing a bit of shopping.

13. What role will you be playing in the upcoming ballet Sylvia?
One of the nymphs in Artemis’ army.

14. What do you enjoy most about dancing in this ballet?
The music is so powerful. This is a ballet about strong women and being out on stage with them is so invigorating and empowering. It’s also been an ideal ballet for me to start with post injury – it’s a little less stressful on my body compared to some of the other roles I’ve performed!

15. What are some of your favourite things to do in Sydney?
Although I’m based in Melbourne, I’m very lucky that I get to see my family, who live in Sydney, when we perform at the Sydney Opera House. I love spending time with them – they are my biggest support system and a pillar of strength for me. Brunches and coastal walks, it’s those little things that become the big things.

16. What do you love most about Elixr?
The staff are super friendly and the range of class times makes it much easier to find a class that fits my schedule!

17. We hear you’re a fan of Elixr Pilates. What about it keeps you coming back?
I love a Reformer class because it engages the entire body and really complements my ballet technique, activating the range of deeper muscles we use on a daily basis. I always come away feeling long and strong!

18. Who is your favourite teacher and why?
Rachel! She runs a really great class – her knowledge is extensive, her corrections sound and relevant. She also understands the requirements that vary from client to client and as a dancer, with my physicality being essential to my livelihood, trust and confidence are paramount when adjusting my body for optimal performance.

For a behind-the-scenes look at life with The Australian Ballet, follow Montana (@montanarubin) on Instagram.

SPECIAL OFFER: Save 10% on Sylvia in Sydney
The Australian Ballet is offering Elixr members 10% off selected tickets (A Reserve, B Reserve and C Reserve) to all performances of Sylvia at the Sydney Opera House from 8–23 November. To qualify for the discount, use the code ELIXR at checkout.

Here’s what you can look forward to…

Sylvia is an epic journey, combining the stories of three superheroines in all the splendour of Ancient Greece. Join the fierce goddess Artemis, the adventurous nymph Sylvia and the mischievous Psyche as they navigate desire and deception in the realm of short-tempered gods and fantastical creatures. Experience this bold retelling of a classic ballet, promising all the passion and humour of Greek myth, tangled love affairs and sword fighting ballerinas.