Professional Dancers for Ballet Memphis 

Eileen Frazer, 30

I am originally from Panama. I worked in “Ballet Nacional de Panama” for about four years. I started struggling with performance anxiety and issues with self-image, clouding my love for the art. I needed an opportunity to rediscover myself as a dancer.

I completed a summer intensive in New York at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and then attended Butler University in Indianapolis, where I earned a degree in Dance Pedagogy. When I was auditioning for ballet companies after college, I immediately fell in love with Ballet Memphis. Now I’m proud to start my fifth season with the company.

Inspired by the precocious interest I had in dance and imagination, my mother enrolled me in dance classes at age six.

Besides ballet class and rehearsals, I do a 30-minute warmup at the start of each day for conditioning muscles I’ve injured. I try to walk for 30 minutes to an hour 3-5 times a week and do Pilates 1-2 times a week. 

The passion that I have for this art form allows me to find fulfillment in everything I do and keep pushing myself for more every day.  

My typical diet consists of:

Breakfast: A bowl of oatmeal, half a grapefruit, and green tea. 

Late morning snack: Some fruit and nuts. 

Lunch: A medley of beans, grains, vegetables, and a salad. 

Afternoon snack: Honey Greek yogurt.

Dinner: I stick to mostly protein and healthy fats and try to not eat after 7 pm. 

My guilty pleasures are Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked Ice Cream and McDonald’s french fries.

I think that in this generation of heightened social media, it is too easy to get lost in online posts and how well everyone is doing. People rarely ever post their struggles and failures online, but it is through those failures that we truly value our victories. My role models are ones that share their struggles along with their successes.

Planks are the most underrated exercise because they work on strength and stability while engaging almost every muscle in the body. 

Walking is a great way to put a pause on life. It’s one of the oldest and easiest cardio and fat-burning activities. Nature walks are where I find those moments where the world slows down for a bit. 

My advice to newbies is to continue working hard towards your goals and remember that you are unique. Your journey belongs to you, alone. There is something that sets you apart and makes you stand out. Never hide from it; rather, learn to nurture it. 

I can’t live without my Beats headphones.

My ankle weights, TheraBand, tennis balls, and foot roller are always in my gym bag. 

I am looking forward to this Ballet Memphis season. I’m excited to be performing at Playhouse on the Square again with Romeo and Juliet, Nutcracker and Cinderella at the Orpheum, as well as new works and a site-specific piece at Ballet Memphis’s building. 

People would be surprised to know that I am extremely clumsy and trip 100 times a day. 

My spirit animal is a horse. Horses symbolize strength and grace while still having an immense sense of freedom. Those are qualities I imbue when I’m dancing.

Ryan Nicolas DeAlexandro, 24

Family: Partner Jeffrey Pressly

As a child, my grandmother thought a good outlet for my energy was dance, so she put me in a tap class. I loved it and branched out to other styles like jazz and ballet. 

I lift weights in the gym every morning, focusing on strengthening each muscle group differently. Then I do a STOTT Pilates workout specific to what I need for a full day of dancing. A ballet class usually follows during weekdays where I start to focus on endurance with anaerobic exercises.

My diet consists of five meals a day. Breakfast is protein, oatmeal, fresh-pressed juice, and black tea. I have two lunches of meat, a carb, and vegetables, one before noon and one after noon. Dinner is similar to lunch, one meal closer to 6 and another closer to 8:30. Both contain meat and rice, but one of the dinners has a salad and the other a fresh-pressed juice.

Bacon, bacon, and more bacon is my indulgence!

To be a professional dancer, you have to not only have strong technique and physique, but passion and confidence to express yourself through your movement. Not everyone has the ability to blend those things together to make dance look effortless, and to allow a story to be told.

Pilates mat exercises tend to be the most underrated but the most difficult because of how much core work and body awareness you have to use. With equipment like the reformer, you receive a lot of feedback on any body imbalances with the resistance of the springs.

I call my favorite workout move the sexy back, which is the single-arm dumbbell row. 

My advice to newbies is to take the time to focus on body alignment and to build strength with cross-training.

I had herniated discs L4-L5 L5-S1. This injury taught me the importance of incorporating recovery into my daily routine. 

I can’t live without my foam roller and flex band. The roller is great for tight muscles, and you can lay down on it long ways for some extra multifidi strengthening. The flex band is great for ankle strengthening and scapulae work.

My massage ball and essential oils are always in my gym bag. A massage ball is great for working out tightness in overworked muscles. I use it to roll out kinks in my back, hips, calves, and the bottom of my feet. I never go anywhere without my pouch of Young Living essential oils. I use them for aromatherapy and holistic purposes. Plus who doesn’t want to smell good?

People would be surprised to know I love to do jigsaw puzzles with a lot of pieces. The harder the better!

My spirit animal is an otter because I have an overflowing amount of positive energy and I work well with a wide range of personalities. 

I am looking forward to returning to Playhouse on the Square with Ballet Memphis this October for Romeo and Juliet.