How the Pacific Northwest Ballet
principal transformed his body
BY GIGI BERARDI
yourbody | WORKING OUT WITH...
Nutrition: A Typical Day
Breakfast: 3 eggs (usually hard-boiled)
Lunch: Protein with a salad and
Dinner: Steak or lamb with a side of
coconut water. “Sometimes
I’ll get a good pho soup
with lots of veggies and
veggies or a baked potato. “I do increase
carbs for performances—pasta helps me
Snack: An apple, banana or nuts
Extra boost: “I take multivitamins in the morning
and at night to get back all the nutrients I lost during the
day. For shows, I eat protein bars, and I’ll also add an energy-
vitamin powder, like a B- 12 boost.”
For stamina: Biking, running
or using the elliptical 30–45
minutes, 5 days a week.
For power: Squats
(with 20–30 lb.
weights or a heavier
in engaging his
• Pull-ups (with palms facing forward
and then back)
• Incline push-ups (standard push-up
but with legs on a raised surface)
• Sit-ups (with head and neck in a
relaxed position, arms crossed)
• Planks (with one foot or arm off the
floor; plus side planks)
Somewhere between Pacific Northwest Ballet’s fall 2015 production of
Kiyon Gaine’s Sum Stravinsky and its winter 2016 Romeo et Juliette,
Seth Orza completely changed his look: from a strong, commanding
presence to a lanky, impetuous boy.
“For Romeo, I wanted to seem more youthful,” says Orza. “I’m
6 feet, and I wanted to lose about 10 pounds.” To change both his
30 to 45 minutes of cardio five days a week and strength-training about
physique and his stamina, Orza decided to step up his regular condition-
ing routine. This meant running and working out longer and with more
intensity. “You have to keep your goal in mind,” says Orza, “but achieve
it the healthiest way you can: through diet and conditioning rather than
drugs and food restriction. Otherwise, you get injured.”
The 35-year-old principal power-trained for six months, performing
three times a week. “Being a father of a 4-year-old and having a heavy
dance schedule makes it a lot harder to stay consistent,” admits Orza.
“But you figure it out.”
The key to Orza’s success is working out with a dancer’s perspective.
Orza also added in physical therapy exercises to rehabilitate a patellar
tendon injury. Many had an eccentric component (resisting the weight as
you slowly lengthen the muscle), which puts the muscle under tension
longer and helps in muscle growth and reshaping.
“Treat your body like an instrument, with respect,” he says. “If you go a
faster route, you set yourself up for injuries. But dancer shape is different
than gym shape.” n
Orza in William
Forsythe’s In the middle,
1. Lift one leg to the side.
2. Tap it to the floor, leaning
3. Bounce back to a balanced
“This strengthens muscles
I usually don’t hit when I’m
dancing,” says Orza.