March 23, 2020 / 3:18 PM / 11 days ago

Private dancer: Ballet star practices at home during coronavirus shutdown

FILE PHOTO: Principal dancers Ludmila Konovalova (L) and Marian Walter perform "Flower festival in Genzano" during a dress rehearsal at the Deutsche Oper opera house in Berlin October 24, 2008. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) - Prima ballerina Liudmila Konovalova stretches out on the parquet floor in her small apartment, her main practice space now that the coronavirus has shut down the Vienna State Opera.

Seconds later she is on pointed feet, holding on to her bookcase and performing a graceful set of barre exercises as music from the 19th century Russian ballet La Bayadere plays on the stereo.

Elite performers across the world are having to improvise to keep in peak condition during government isolation orders forcing whole populations to stay at home.

“You can keep in shape anywhere - in the living room, in the corridor, in the kitchen. You don’t need much for that, just two meters of space and something to hang on (to),” the Moscow-born dancer said in a video filmed on her phone in her Vienna flat.

“The most important (thing) is the strong wish and will. In the end we’re doing it for being ready to come back on the stage.”

The Vienna State Opera - where Konovalova has danced for a decade with the Vienna State Ballet - has closed its doors until further notice and started streaming footage of past performances online.

Austrians are in their second week of self-isolation and required to stay home until at least April 13. Their country has reported nearly 4,000 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths so far.

Additional reporting by Kirsti Knolle in Vienna, Writing by Andrew Heavens; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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