FNM Exclusive: Principal Dancer Isabella Boylston Rehearses Ballet for HOW MANY Hours Per Day?!?

We always knew it took hard work and dedication to succeed as a professional ballerina. We just thought most of them made time to sleep and eat, too.

OK, we might be exaggerating … but just barely. In our exclusive interview with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at NYC's American Ballet Theatre, we learned just how much training it takes to become the best in your profession.

"I started dancing when I was about three years old," Boylston tells FNM. "No one in my family is a dancer, or knew anything about ballet. And it certainly never crossed anyone's mind, including mine, that I'd ever become a ballerina someday. I think it was just something my mom thought was gonna be good for me."

But during Boylston's ballet lessons, something just clicked. She developed a true passion for dance, and by age 12, she was commuting for two hours each day to train with the best ballet instructors she could find.

"I loved the creative aspect of it, like getting to express yourself through movement," says Boylston. "I think I also just loved the physical challenge." ("I mean, ballet is just endlessly difficult, so you never run out of challenges," she laughs.)

It was already clear to Boylston that dancing was more than just a hobby, and she soon began earning medals and scholarships along with coveted spots within the dance programs at the country's best ballet schools.

But even now, as a principal dancer within the ABT and one of the stars of their current production of "Swan Lake," Boylston still trains like she did when she was younger — and even more so.

"I think in general, I rehearse probably up to nine hours a day," she smiles. "Some days are really long."

Watch the rest of Boylston's interview above for more, including a look at her breathtaking ballet performances.