Alexandra Kochis, principal dancer, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal dancer, Alexandra Kochis. A Massachusetts native, Alexandra received her early training from Mimi Ferrell of Ballet Arts Academy and Iacob Lascu of Lascu School of Ballet. Since joining PBT in 2006, Alexandra has enjoyed the opportunity to dance principal roles in numerous company productions, from Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, to Giselle and Don Quixote.

Monday, August 3

I really am a morning person. The gentle, first light of day will generally find me in my kitchen with a steaming cup of coffee catching up on emails and correspondence after the weekend hiatus. But by 8:15 a.m. I am on the road to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre building for the first class of the week. Class is 9:15 to 10:45 a.m. every weekday during our rehearsal periods and it feels good to get sweating and work the kinks out after a few days off.

Alexandra Kochis

Three hours of rehearsal for our upcoming shows at Hartwood Acres and the Chicago Dance Festival follows class and by 2 p.m. I am ready for some recharging. A quick stop over at Allegheny Coffee & Tea Exchange in the Strip District does the trick. I always love stepping over their threshold and into the sights, sounds and decadent smells of a working roastery. Then it’s back to the Ballet for a few more hours of rehearsal before calling it a day and heading home.

Tuesday, August 4

After class today my partner (and husband) Christopher Budzynski and I have rehearsal scheduled with our director Terrence Orr to rehearse the White Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake. Even though we have both danced these roles before it is a never-ending process of fine tuning and tweaking. After a quick stop into the Costume Shop to chat with our costumier Janet Campbell about some new changes to my pointe shoe order and to pick up a new pair to sew, it’s off to the pool at the Westin Hotel to swim some laps and stretch out in the steam room.

Wednesday, August 5

By mid-week my body is needing some TLC so after class and morning rehearsals I stop in for a session with the resident UPMC physical therapists at the Ballet. More rehearsals in the afternoon and then I plan to swing by Marty’s Market to stock up on the raw, local honey I’ve become addicted to and pick up something inspiring to chef up for dinner. I love Marty’s commitment to selling locally grown and/or freshly butchered meat and produce. Their heritage pork is a current favorite. I love to cook at home—making dinner and talking about our days with my husband is my favorite way to relax and unwind in the evenings. An ice bucket for my feet and a hot bath are definitely in order.

Thursday, August 6

Today I have a lighter rehearsal schedule so I plan a lunch time Pilates session with the in-house Pilates instructor at the Ballet, Ann Corrado. Even though we dancers exercise a lot throughout the day, sometimes it feels really good to work your muscles in a different way to try to balance your body out a bit. After some afternoon work on the repertoire, Chris and I take advantage of these long summer days and head over to the lake at North Park for a quick paddle in our kayaks before dinner.

Friday, August 7

Rehearsals for our Hartwood Acres show are in run-through mode now. Chris and I will run White Swan pas de deux and Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet with the rest of the company and get all our notes from the artistic staff.  Then at our 2 p.m. lunch hour I head to Cafe Raymond on Penn Avenue to sample one of Chef Ray’s amazing daily specials.

Saturday, August 8

During the warm weather I love to get outside on the weekends so Chris and I have planned a weekend of camping down in Ohiopyle. We hope to get in some kayaking on the Youghiogheny River and hiking in the State Park. We’ll also be sure and make the trip over the mountain to Confluence to visit our friends Andy and Erica Smith over at Riversport and The Lucky Dog Cafe. There is never a shortage of delicious choices and, post lunch, we’ll pop over to Riversport to check out all the latest kayaking gear. Come evening you’ll find me in one of my favorite places, just chilling by the campfire.

Sunday, August 9

After a quick morning stop at Rapid Java at Wilderness Voyagers in Ohiopyle we’ll take our breakfast to the rocks, riverside. I’ll then head to Wheeling, WV, to teach a master class to the pre-professional students at Oglebay Institute. Teaching really challenges me to break things down and focus on the details which is incredibly inspiring when heading into another week of my own classes and rehearsals. I’ll be back home again by 6:00 p.m. ready to enjoy our weekly tradition of homemade grilled pizza and some time on our backyard deck relaxing and enjoying the firefly parade—the essence of summer.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...