First thing: The way they start their day: 9. Stuart Cassidy; principal dancer with the Royal Ballet west London

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
I normally wake much earlier than I rise. But if I'm performing at the Royal Opera House on the night, I have to be at Covent Garden for the early morning stage calls, and so have to get up as soon as I wake, at 7am. If not, then I'm usually just rehearsing at the studio in Baron's Court, in which case I lie in bed until about 8.30am. The night before, I won't have got to bed until about 1am: performances generally end about 10.30pm, and the journey home takes about an hour. Then, before going to sleep, I'll take a shower and have a meal.

I'm woken up by the radio, which is tuned to Capital, and my first thought is usually something like "Oh God - I've got to get up."

My bedroom is a very nice environment to wake up in, though: it's a bright room, with walls painted yellow, and we get the sun coming in at dawn. The only thing that disturbs me is the barking of our next-door neighbour's dog. I'm surrounded by old furniture - a wardrobe, which we discovered in an antique shop in Tunbridge Wells, and a chest from the 1890s - but the room is dominated by the bed, which causes traffic jams as my wife, Nicola, and I get ready.

Nicola is also a dancer with the Royal Ballet, so her routine is much the same as mine. While she makes the bed, I have first turn in the bathroom. There, I have a wash and give myself a quick inspection in the mirror to make sure things aren't looking too bad, though I rarely shave first thing in the morning. I tend to leave that until about 5.30pm, before I put my stage make-up on. I'll then go back to the bedroom to get dressed, usually putting on just jeans or casual clothes, but when I get to rehearsal or class, I'll change into my dance kit - a unitard, tracksuit, T-shirt, black socks and leather ballet shoes.

While Nicola is getting dressed, I go downstairs and put the coffee on and get some breakfast. I need something dry, because I can't go jumping around after a bowl of milk and cereal; normally, I have granary toast and Marmite, or sometimes croissants. I'm also diabetic, so before I eat, I have to test my blood sugar level and give myself my insulin injection - the first of four during the day, each before a meal. After I've eaten, I'll open the mail, chuck the dishes in the dishwasher, and make sure our cat has its food and water for the day. There's no time to do anything else: I don't have the television on for fear that I wouldn't get out of the house, and I don't normally get a paper until night, when I read the Evening Standard coming home from work.

If we're heading for Covent Garden, Nicola and I leave the house just after 7.30am, after checking the kitchen calendar for any appointments we might have with the company masseur or physiotherapist during the day. It's a 10-minute walk to the Tube station, and depending on the frequency of the District Line trains, we get to the Opera House at about 8.30am. There, I change into my dance kit to do warm-ups - bending, stretching, and generally getting the muscles moving. I share a dressing room with three of the other principals - Errol Pickford, Bruce Sansom and Tetsuya Kumakawa - but we all generally keep ourselves to ourselves while warming up. Class lasts about an hour and a quarter, and we start by lifting our legs at the bar, before moving into the centre of the room and doing the same things without holding on. Basically, we go through all the steps that will be required during the day, and I take in a sweat towel and a mug full of water to keep up my water levels.

If I'm just rehearsing, it's exactly the same routine, but it's all much more relaxed. It's a shorter Tube journey to Baron's Court - 10 to 15 minutes - and so Nicola and I can spend up to an hour getting ready rather than a half-hour, which I much prefer. I'm not a morning person, really; even when I'm going to work, I'm still waking up.