How Ballerina Heather Ogden Spends a Day in Quarantine

In our Day in the Quarantine Life series, we're chatting with Canadians about their new normal, exploring how they organize their days and balance their home lives with work obligations. Here, Heather Ogden, principal dancer at the National Ballet of Canada (and previous Best Health cover girl!), shares how an average day of social distancing looks for her and her family.

6 a.m.

I wake up at 6 a.m. because my son, Leo, he’s three, is an early bird. My husband, Guillaume, also a principal dancer at the National Ballet of Canada, and I alternate who wakes up with him. Leo likes to do just quiet things in the morning. Emma, she’s five, wakes up at 7 a.m.

We eat breakfast really early. Leo always has pancakes; Emma always has hot cereal oats. Guillaume and I have eggs, a protein breakfast, and then the kids want that too! I don’t know how they can put all that in their bodies. It’s crazy. They’re hilarious. I like to have soft boiled eggs in the morning, with avocado and Sriracha, and an Earl Grey tea—at least one. I don’t like coffee.

I get Emma to do a bit of school work. We sit down and work on her letters and her colouring. I like to take them out, but I’m trying to avoid people. This morning, it’s raining and miserable, but I’m like, this is perfect! So we go out with our rain boots and our umbrellas, and we find a quiet place to go walking and splashing in puddles for an hour. They need that outdoor time, but I want to keep everybody as safe as possible.

It’s taken a few days to adjust to our new routine. I’m disappointed not to be doing our shows. But I also missed my kids so much. We’re used to working really long hours. And then all of a sudden we get to be home with them all day, so it’s really nice. But then I realized I wasn’t sure how we were actually going to work from home, because our kids are pretty demanding of our attention. We’ve slowly settled into a bit of a routine.

10 a.m.

I put snacks together for them, and I give them a YouTube show— Cosmic Kids Yoga and then StorylineOnline—to watch while Guillaume and I do our workouts. We like to do classes together. It’s motivating to have someone beside you.

Before we started this quarantine, we were performing Romeo and Juliet. It opened on Wednesday, March 11, and then there was a matinee on Thursday, and then I did the Thursday night performance, and already, I could tell based on the number of people in the audience, that this wasn’t going to continue much longer. We all came to company class on Friday, and they told us we have to shut down for obvious reasons.

When we’re rehearsing, we usually train for an hour and a half in the morning in company ballet class, where we warm up and work on our technique, and then the typical rehearsal day is six hours. I’m used to being really active, so I’m having to find new ways at home, which I’m not sure I can exactly, but I’m doing my best.

Today, Guillame and I do pilates by Je-An Salas for an hour, and then a ballet class in our makeshift ballet studio for an hour. We either do a ballet class led by one of the company members through Zoom or we follow one online. There are so many amazing teachers around the world and so many companies. One of my favourite teachers and mentors, Suzanne Farrell, taped a class, which is a real treat. I don’t think she has any of her classes online ever.

12 p.m.

We have lunch. The kids have a wrap with turkey, cheese, avocado, mustard, and mayo. Guillaume and I have a protein shake with Veg Essential protein powder, which is what my naturopath recommended to me, and I’m kind of hooked on it. At work I have it plain, but today we have it more like a smoothie with spinach, banana, help seeds, almond milk, and a bit of almond butter. It’s a little bit too yummy.

We go outside, and take the kids out on their little scooters. I feel that keeps their hands on the scooters, so they’re not touching anything.

3 p.m.

We come back in, and I do my workout with Rui Huang (@rui_strong), a girl I used to dance with who does really good high-intensity workouts. She offers one-hour workouts three or four times a week through her Instagram. They’re killer. I’m dying—but I think that’s perfect. She’s good at motivating the dancers. She knows what we need.

Today, we have a good system. Guillaume woke up and did the Peloton bike for an hour when I took the kids out, then he looked after them so I could do this one. Pilates, ballet, Rui’s class—that’s about half of what I’d usually do at work. But at home, and with two kids, that’s the best I can do for myself. And I do get an exercise chasing after the kids.

4 p.m.

Before this whole shut-down, when everyone was scavenging food and stocking up, I was panicked and like “we need to have enough crafts!” I went to the dollar store, toy store, and craft store. So, I have a cupboard full of supplies. Today, I pull out these birdhouses, and we paint them. It keeps them busy and messy, but it’s pretty cute.

6 p.m.

We have tacos for dinner, give the kids an early bath, and watch a bit of Ferdinand. It’s hard to find something Leo and Emma both like, but they both like this, so we’ve watched it a few times.

8 p.m.

The kids go to bed, and Guillaume and I catch up on emails and catch up with friends—we’ve been doing that Houseparty app. I miss socializing. Guillaume and I really love to get together with friends and family.

We also just got into Ozark—season three just came out. Usually I’m such a binge-watcher—when I have a Netflix show I like I can’t stop it, but we’re trying to savour it due to this new situation we’re in.

I’ve been trying to do face masks and take care of myself a little bit that way. I never have time to do that. I’m using Innisfree Pore Clearing Clay Mask with super Volcanic Clusters. I got it as a Secret Santa gift this year from one of the dancers.

Before bed, I put on my Clarins Double Serum, and I use The Ordinary face moisturizer. Sometimes I’ll use Boundless Solid Oil by 8 Faces. My skin tends to be more dry, so I put that on, and my skin looks a bit glazed.

11 p.m.

I take my magnesium and go to sleep. My muscles are really worked during the day, and I find magnesium helps them relax over night. And I find it keeps your system going, if you know what I’m saying.

Some days are hard, and I feel like I’m not productive. We just need to think we’re really not in a bad situation. We’re not having to go to work, I think that’s a lot scarier, the people who have to go to work. So I’m just trying to be grateful.

I put on my pointe shoes once in a while. It’s hard to think that we work so hard to be in top shape. When you’re performing you’re really at the top of your game, and it takes just a few days to feel like you’ve lost that shape. Out of the ballet studio for so many days, it’s easy to get a little discouraged by it, but you can find some other silver linings, like spending a lot of time together as a family. That’s something we always feel like we miss.

I look forward to being back in the studio. I love what I do. Sometimes you take it for granted. As dancers at the National Ballet, we’re spoiled with the most beautiful facility and perfect floors and all these things. I look forward to having that perk again. That’s for sure.

As told to Renée Reardin.