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A week in the life of an Ailey dancer

Khalia Campbell shares her day-to-day life as a dancer in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.


1. In broad strokes, what does a typical workweek look like for you from Monday to Friday?

During the work week, I have rehearsals from 12-7 p.m. Following rehearsals, I commit myself twice a week to attend church gatherings, events or services that we have.

2. What time do you wake up and go to bed?

I try to wake up at 8 a.m. and go to sleep by midnight, but to be honest I don’t have a specific set time that I wake up or go to sleep. It is my hope to be more intentional and disciplined with my sleeping schedule, which would be waking up at 7 a.m. and going to sleep at 11 p.m.

3. What do you typically eat in a day to stay in dancing shape?

Typically, I cut out dairy and meat, lower my rice intake and eat only fish.

4. How do you warm up for rehearsal?

Every morning, Monday-Friday, the Company has a ballet class as well as body conditioning, which was introduced into our training during the pandemic. As my body started to mature, I realized that I needed a warm-up before the warm-up, so I do exercises that were given to me by my physical therapist to maintain and stabilize.

5. How long is a typical rehearsal day?

A typical rehearsal day is usually about seven hours. We have class from 10:30-11:50 a.m., which is optional, and then rehearsal from 12-7 p.m. with a lunch break from 3-4 p.m.

6. What is your favorite part about rehearsal?

My favorite part about rehearsal is watching all of my beautiful co-workers brilliantly portray the information and movement that was given to them through their bodies! Especially during a run through of a program. It’s really so exciting.

7. What do you do for muscle recovery to prevent soreness and maintain flexibility?

I don’t think you can ever prevent soreness dancing with Ailey. But what helps is always getting into a warm bath with Epsom salt and rolling out your muscles after you get out of the tub. To maintain flexibility, you must stay consistent with stretching or doing whatever techniques help your muscles stay pliable.

8. How often do you rehearse ahead of a program?

Very often! We rehearse almost all the time before any performances we do.

9. How do you unwind and get away from your work for a little bit?

One of my love languages is quality time, so I love to get together with my loved ones. I might go on a vacation somewhere tropical, usually to visit my family who resides in Barbados. But, one of my absolute favorite things to do is taking long prayer walks outside with God.

10. How has your routine changed in light of the pandemic?

The pandemic has changed my routine a great deal because of the mental and spiritual challenges we all had to endure. During the beginning of the pandemic, I resorted to comfort with a lot of things, specifically food. I began to fall back into old habits because of the uncertainty we were faced with. I didn’t know when I would be able to perform again, so it was almost as if maintaining a disciplined way of eating was pointless. I will say I have made a change and I am slowly making my way back to a healthier lifestyle because my body is worth it!

11. How has the legacy of Alvin Ailey inspired the way you approach your work?

The legacy of Alvin Ailey helps me to stay connected to my “why” and the legacy I want to leave behind. The excellence, authenticity and resilience is what I want to withhold within my artistry and work ethic, but there is also more to that. Mr. Ailey often spoke about humanity and the legacy I want to leave behind is not only in how I made people feel through my dancing, but how I lived my life as a being.

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