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Tag: healthy students

What Do Your Dance Moves Say About You?

what do your dance moves say about you

During a recital, you make sure you hit every count of the choreography perfectly and pour your emotions into your leaps and turns to tell a story to the audience. But what kind of story are you telling when you’re not on stage or in front of the mirror, but are instead busting out moves at a friend’s party or school dance? The way you move when you don’t care who’s watching tells a lot about what type of personality you have, according to new research. And beyond revealing your personality, scientists think that your dance moves may also give insight into your thoughts and feelings.

So, what do your go-to dance moves say about you?

Moving around the dance floor a lot while making big, energetic movements with your arms and head: You’re an extrovert! You own that dance floor with your dramatic moves and don’t care who’s watching. The more attention you get, the better!

Doing the “shuffle,” or jerkily moving your hands and feet in quick, sharp motions: You have an neurotic personality! You feel a little more self-conscious in the disco lights of a dance floor than up on stage, and don’t want to make too much of a statement.

You make up and down movements right in time with the music, but not much more than that: You are open-minded! Your mind is free and unworried so it can tap into the music and what it makes you feel. You have an impeccable sense of rhythm and timing, and can adjust easily between different musical styles and songs.

You move your body in smooth side-to-side motions while swinging your hands: You have an agreeable personality! Like with other things in life, you go with the flow and let the music move you. People gravitate toward you, and you love when the size of your dancing circle grows.

You dance your way around the room, never staying in one spot too long, and are constantly making big motions with your hands: You have a conscientious and dutiful personality! You are a dedicated worker, always staying late after class to nail your choreography. You hate being bored and want to make sure you get the most out of whatever you do and live life to the fullest.

And finally, if you always point your toes, no matter where you are: You are a true dancer at heart! This one wasn’t in the study, but if your friends always point out how your toes are always curled in impeccable form it can only mean one thing: You always have the spirit of dance within you, wherever you go!

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Best Barre Exercises to Keep Dancers Fit

Best Barre Exercises to Keep Dancers Fit Off Stage

Many people would consider dance a workout in itself. However, in order to be at your best as a dancer, there’s some preparation required off the stage as well. Some dancers appreciate a good workout to help keep them in shape but also to keep their muscles limber and strong. While everyone has a different workout they prefer, some moves are classic, especially barre exercises.

While there are several different types of barre classes dancers can take to keep in shape, Physique 57 is currently one of the best in the business. Several celebrities have tested out this class, including Chrissy Teigen. The classes are modeled off of the Lotte Berk Method, a tried-and-true method created in the ’50s and used by dancers all over the world. If you’re looking to stay toned and lean off stage, use these moves from Physique 57 to help you stay in shape, according to Dance Spirit magazine.

Have you tested out these barre exercises?

1. The Curtsy

This exercise helps work your thighs, improves your balance and tones your core and back. If you’ve ever done ballet, you know this move pretty well. For this exercise you will need a sturdy chair to use for balance. Begin in plie form in first position. Make sure you feel comfortable, not awkward or strained.

Place your hands on the back of the chair and lean the top part of your body forward, keeping your back straight, until you reach a 45-degree angle. Once you’re in this position, lift your right heel off the floor and slide it to your left side behind your body, so that it aligns with your left shoulder.

Slowly begin to lower yourself to the ground, making sure to keep your hips and your shoulders aligned. Begin to do 30 to 60 pulses in this position, and then switch to the other leg. If you really want to test your strength and your muscles, try this position even lower to the ground.

“Barre classes are modeled off the Lotte Berk Method, used by dancers all over the world.”

2. The Deli Slicer

Even though this workout has a funny name, these moves help tone and strengthen the obliques, gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles. Begin lying down on your right side with your arm stretched upward beneath your head.

Place your left palm on the ground near your chest to help keep yourself balanced. Pull your knees toward your chest until you reach a 90-degree angle. Keeping your legs together, lift your feet off the ground with your knees staying on the floor.

From this position, push your left leg outward until it’s straight. Try to reach as far as you can go without straining yourself. Then bring your leg back in, returning to the initial position. Complete this move 15 times slowly, followed by 20 times quickly. Then switch sides. If you think about the motion of your legs, it should look like a deli slicer.

3. The Superwoman

This exercise is great for the core and can help tone your abdominal muscles. You will need a cushion and a ball to perform this move. Begin sitting on the ground. Place some type of cushion – whether it’s a yoga mat or a pillow – behind your lower back for support.

Once it’s in place, start to lower yourself onto it, making sure to keep your arms, head and neck upright. Place your feet on the ball, keeping your toes pointed forward. Make sure your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and your arms are outstretched forward.

Inhale inward and place your arms overhead so that your body is entirely on top of the cushion and your legs are completely straight, with your feet still resting on the ball. Return to the initial position.

Repeat this process between 30 and 60 times, depending on your strength. Make sure you don’t sit all the way up on the return, as that won’t work your muscles as strongly.

4. The Pretzel

This exercise helps stretch your hips, strengthen your waistline and tone your gluteus maximus. Start this exercise sitting on the ground, with your left leg at a 90-degree angle in front of you and your right leg at a 90-degree angle behind your back. Try to push your right thigh as far back as it’s willing to go. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your left leg to improve stability.

Tighten your core, point your toes and lift your right leg off the floor and move it up and down between 20 and 30 times, keeping the leg bent at 90 degrees.

Then, repeat the position but extend your leg and keep your foot flat for another 20 to 30 repetitions.

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Dance Recital Stress? Great Ways For Dancers To Relieve Stress Before A Recital

Dance Recital Stress? The Fastest Ways To Relieve Stress Before A Recital

Most dancers know that dance recitals can be stressful. They’re a culmination of a dancer’s hard work all season. They’ll put in endless hours to practice their performances to make sure they nail every move perfectly. However, when the day of the recital finally arrives, you’re still uncertain whether you’ll be able to perform every single step perfectly. What if something goes wrong? What if your music skips or your costume tears? So what are you to do? Consider these five tips on how to relieve your dance recital stress as quickly as possible.

1. Talk To A Friend

One of the fastest ways to reduce anxiety and lower your heart rate is to talk to a friend, Helpguide.org noted. Having a light, easy conversation can help distract you from overreacting to any type of stressful event, including dance recitals. Talking to someone you know and trust can make you feel safe and comfortable, allowing you to relax and forget your worries about dancing. Usually this feeling of safety is subconscious, which is why it’s so effective. The body will pick up on nonverbal cues, such as a smile, a hug or another warm gesture and begin to relax in that person’s presence. However, this interaction should be be in-person in order to work, so  calling up your best friend who isn’t attending the show might not have the same effect.

2. Meditate And Walk

Meditating and walking is a fast and easy trick that only takes four minutes to complete, Real Simple magazine noted. The act of doing both at the same time helps distract the brain from the stressful event at hand and instead focus on the present, which allows dancers to lower their blood pressure and helps them gain clarity before hitting the stage.

A few minutes before your performance, inhale and take four steps forward. Then, exhale and take another four steps. Repeat the process and add a few steps in each time. Try to complete this exercise in at least three minutes. The longer you do it, the better off you’ll be. Regulating your breathing is one of the easiest ways to reduce your stress and steady your heart rate, reducing amount of the hormone cortisol that is released. This exercise is perfect if you’re sitting in the hallway or a back room waiting to go on stage.

3. Have Some Dark Chocolate

When you’re stressed, you might begin to eat everything in a desperate attempt to soothe your nerves. Of course, eating the wrong things could cause you to feel bloated and possibly give you an upset stomach before the show. Instead of eating anything within reach, grab a bar of dark chocolate, Health magazine suggested. Believe it or not, this sweet is known for its stress-relieving properties. Dark chocolate isn’t very high in sugar, which can actually make you feel more anxious. Studies have shown that it can help lower the levels of cortisol running through your body, making you feel calmer.

4. Step Outside

If you’re really feeling overwhelmed watching dancers practice and get ready around you, simply step outside for a moment. Getting some fresh air and taking a few deep breaths can help you relax, feel calm and allow you to forget about those small worries. Don’t have a minute to go out? Bring along a little lavender or lavender oil, which is a proven elixir for stress relief and can help regulate your immune system and bring it back to normal levels.

5. Listen to Calming Music

If you’ve got a little time to burn before you strut your stuff, listen to some music with a calm, relaxing melody. Find a quiet space away from the din of the recital and drift away to the soothing music. Research has shown that when people listen to calming music, their brain waves will align with slow rhythm and immediately cause you to relax.

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Dance Injuries: 5 Common Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Are You at Risk for These Dance Injuries?

Dancers get injured from time to time. It might be due to an overly rigorous practice schedule, an accidental fall, a nutritional deficit, or some other reason. However, when it does happen, it can be immensely frustrating and poorly timed. Dancers may have a big performance in a few weeks or may be looking to audition for a prestigious dance group. Whatever the event is, dance injuries aren’t fun. Consider these five common dance injuries and how to avoid them.

1. Lumbosacral Injuries

If you aren’t a dancer, you might think dancers most commonly experience injuries involving the ankles, hips and knees. While those areas are commonly affected by dance, the spine is also affected. Most often, dancers deal with lower back issues from the amount of movement they do during practice and performances. According to the Centers for Orthopaedics, most spine injuries for dancers are lumbosacral and involve intense pain. This injury can be caused by poor stability, uneven leg length, bad technique, scoliosis and even high heels. According to Dance Teacher magazine, some dancers may have lordosis, which can cause muscle spasms that make them more vulnerable to spine injuries. Following proper dancing techniques, stretching, and building core, pelvic and hip strength can help dancers avoid this common injury.

2. Snapping Hip Injuries

This injury sounds just like its name. Dancers will hear, and feel, a loud popping noise in their hip as they dance. This snap is the illiotibial band shifting over the upper leg bone and snapping. It can be incredibly painful, but there are usually a few warning signs. Most commonly, this happens when the IT band is too tight and hasn’t been stretched or warmed up properly. It can also be caused by weak muscles on the outside of the hips and lordosis. Dancers can prevent this these dance injuries by toning and strengthening all of the pelvic stabilizers, such as the hip flexors, abductors and and adductors, as well as working on the lower abdominal muscles and the core.

3. Achilles Tendonitis

Some people forget about the Achilles tendon and its importance on the body. It’s the longest tendon and connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Dancers tend to overuse this muscle, which leads to tendonitis. Usually this injury occurs if dancers experience frequent shin splints or lower their arches during warm ups, such as barre exercises. Overtraining, dancing on a hard floor and lack of stretching can also lead to this injury, which can be immensely painful and debilitating when it occurs.

4. Neck Strain

Many dancers forget about the stress they can put on their necks when they dance. However, a common dancing injury is neck strain, especially for dancers who do a lot of varied choreography. Dancers can prevent from straining their neck by lengthening it and elongating the spine when they move, instead of collapsing it.

5. Rotator Cuff Injuries

Most dances involve plenty of arm movement. If dancers continuously use their arms during practices and performances, they may end up with an overuse rotator cuff injury. This overuse can cause tendons to strain and tear, leading to intense pressure in the shoulders. Teachers should discuss proper form with students as well as the mechanics of movement. If a dancer is able to understand where the scapula is, he or she is less likely to point an arm in that direction.

As with any injury or health issue, please consult your physician. These tips are meant to be informational only, and should never replace the advice of a licensed medical practitioner.

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6 Tips for Dancers: Surviving Dance Recital Week

dance recital week

Recital week can be an exciting time, but it can also be very stressful. Between the constant travel and hoping to look your best during every performance, things can get exhausting quickly. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to get through this stressful time of the year. These tips and tricks can help your dance recital week seem like a breeze, instead of an anxiety-ridden event. Consider these suggestions on how to survive dance recital week.

1) Plan Ahead

Plan, plan, plan ahead! Begin setting aside items that you’ll need for the recital, but won’t need to use the week before. That could be pieces of costumes, hair accessories, shoes, makeup and so on. Beginning to pack this far in advance means that you won’t be scrambling at the last minute trying to get things together for your show or series of shows. Instead, you can calmly grab your bags and head to the studio.

2) Label Everything

When you’re packing, you don’t want to get confused or mix things up. That’s why it’s critical to create categories and sections for all of the pieces you need for recital week. Once you’ve got your costumes and essential items organized, labeling them is just as important. Label each with your name and the purpose of the item. You may even want to go as far as listing the recital number as well as your personal phone number. This is a good idea in case you lose your bag or leave it somewhere and another person finds it. That way they can call you and hopefully you can get it before the show!

3) Make Copies of Your Rehearsal Schedule

Rehearsals are just as important as the recital themselves. After all, what’s more important than making sure you completely have the steps down for your routine? Once you get your rehearsal schedule from your teacher, look it over several times to make sure you know where and when you are rehearsing for the dance recital, and write down the schedule in your planner.

If you don’t know these details, you might get distracted and forgot or accidentally arrive at the wrong studio, causing you to be late for the rehearsal and potentially ill-prepared. Though these schedules can seem overwhelming, as you may have several practices in a row before the actual performances, they are critical to you doing well.

Bringing extras can help you be your best on stage. Having extra dance essentials on hand helps ensure that your focus stays where it needs to be—on your performance.

4) Bring Extras

It’s always wise to bring extras of things. That way, if you lose one item, you can quickly grab the backup. Also, recitals can be an exciting time, but they can also be unpredictable. You may not anticipate that your tights will rip or the straps to your dress will come loose, but they might. Keeping an extra pair of tights and some safety pins on hand can help alleviate these issues as they happen. Aside from those two items, have extra bobby pins, pain relievers, hairspray, makeup, baby wipes and band aids. That way you can be at your best no matter what happens.

Looking for a guide to help organize these extras? Check out our dance competition survival guide! Competitions and recitals have TONS of crossover materials needed, so you can use this guide be sure to have everything covered.

5) Create a Checklist

Thanks to DanceMom.com, who put together a checklist of lots of items you need to pack and things to keep in mind. Run through that list more than once to make sure everything is on there!

After packing, compare the list with your packed dance bag not once, but twice. Attention to the little details can make a big difference on recital day! Once you know everything is packed, you can head into the studio assured and confident instead of worried and concerned that you forgot something.

6) Eat Smart!

If you’re running from performance to performance, you’re bound to get thirsty fast. That’s why it’s so important that you pack plenty of food and water.

Make sure you bring along a resilient, large water bottle that you can refill and keep at the studio. The same goes for food and snacks. You don’t want to be running on empty during your favorite performances, so pack some healthy snacks to help keep you going.

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Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Improv Dance Moves

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Improv Dance Moves

Dance improvising can be a tricky art to master, especially when dancers are starting out. However, once you’ve got certain skills down pat, it will be easy for you to break out improvised moves pretty much anywhere, whether you’re in a street competition or looking to impress people during a dance audition. Have you ever improvised a few dance moves before? If you haven’t, don’t worry. Use these five starter tips to help you improve your improv dance moves anywhere you go.

1. Don’t Be Scared

Most dancers starting improvised dance moves may not know where to begin, especially if they’ve been given complete guidance and structure on how to dance until now. Dancers might be worried that they will look foolish or weird in front of their colleagues. However, it’s just the opposite! Most dancers don’t realize they have natural rhythm and beat from years of practicing choreography. Have fun with it and have confidence. Improvised dancing can be challenging, but it’s a way that allows people to let loose and express themselves. Regardless of what move you come up with, it will have some structure and flow.

Beginning improvised dance is also a great time to get to know your body and find out what kind of dance you really like. You’ll learn how your body naturally moves and what types of dancing you appreciate most, whether it’s modern or old school. If you’ve already done a little choreographing, improv dance will help you become a better teacher. You might come up with a few moves you really like and learn how to be more creative on the fly, allowing for more original dances.

2. Begin With a Frame

When you’re starting out, it’s good to have a little structure in your improvising. If you’re taking a dance improvisation class, it might be focused on one part of dancing, such as fluid movement, dancing gleefully or even working on space. Regardless of what the prompt is, don’t watch others around you. Instead, watch the instructor and listen to yourself. What do you think of when you picture fluidity? How do you express glee? Starting with your own emotions and feelings is a great way to help guide yourself through the process.

3. Go In With An Open Mind

If you enter an improvisation class and feel embarrassed or judgmental from the get-go, it’s not going to go well. You’ll constantly be judging your moves in the mirror or might be too focused on what others in the class are doing instead of what you are expressing. If you act this way, you won’t allow for any creative energy to develop. Only practice improvisation with an open mind and remember that it’s all about having fun.

If you look a little silly, so what? Every move helps guide you toward a better rhythm and motion. Going in with an open mind helps you stay in the moment and move freely instead of thinking about what’s coming next. Once you’re doing this, you’re improvising dance moves! Then you can work on which moves you like and can perfect them.

4. Follow Others, But Not Too Much

If you’re taking a dance improvisation class, your teacher might ask your class to show each other your moves. When this happens, look at other peers in your class and see what moves they’re creating that make their dances interesting and original. Of course, don’t copy these moves yourself, but notice what works within a dance piece and what doesn’t.

Watching others dance may open your mind to new types of dance that you didn’t initially consider in your own set of moves. If you’re really struggling and finding it difficult to create your own segment, perform in front of a few friends and see what they think. You can also watch tutorials and how-to videos on the best ways for improv dance to help inspire you.

5. Go Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

Improv dance is all about exploring new things. If you have a couple of regular moves you always go to, or there’s a certain type of dance you like, leave it at the door. Instead, go outside of your comfort zone and try new types of dance, even if you’re not familiar with them.

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4 Ways to Balance Dance and School

balance dance and school

Regardless of what age and level you are, it can be hard to be a student and a dancer. You want to be the best dancer you can be, but you also don’t want to fall behind on your schoolwork. Yet between homework, tests, practices and recitals, it can be hard to get it all done. So what are you to do? Consider these four tips on how to balance dance and school.

“Ask your dance studio owner or teacher for a estimated calendar of events.”

1. Get a Planner

Between school and dance, you may not have much free time. That’s why it’s important to stay organized. One of the best ways to do this is to get a planner. If a paper planner isn’t your thing, consider one of these great organizational apps. As soon as you get your syllabus from each class, log all quizzes, assignments and tests. That way, you can’t miss your assigned homework or a last-minute practice. Visually seeing these tasks a week ahead can also keep you organized. Sometimes you might not know about a performance or recital until a few weeks before. At the beginning of the year, ask your dance studio owner or teacher for a estimated calendar of events that you can log into your planner as well. Hopefully those dates will stay fairly accurate throughout the year so you can keep on top of it all.

2. It’s OK to Put School in Front of Dance

Some days, it may seem like dance is more important than school. You have more fun there anyway, right? However, at the end of the day, academics still matter. If there is a way to compromise, then make it happen. Otherwise, put school first. At the end of the day, dance may not be worth it if you’re failing classes. If you have a big test or presentation coming up, work on it during your free time at dance practice or a recital. However, if you know that you won’t have that free time at dance, it might be better to skip it.

3. Time it Right

As a dancer, you may tend to put a little too much on your plate. Aside from school and dance, you may also try to balance a job, friends and time with family. Be careful – this can lead to a fast burnout if you try to make it all work. Each week, plan out your timing. Look at how much time you plan to spend at dance, at school, on homework and so on. If you don’t have time for everything, it’s important to cut out activities that matter less. Though it could be hard to cancel on good friends, it might be necessary. Make sure you dedicate the most time in your day to dance and school. If you have extra time at the end of your day, great! If not, then it’s time to make some cancelations.

4. Think About Home School

If you’re looking to be a serious dancer, it might be time to think about home school. That way, you can plan your hours around practice and recitals. However, if you decide to do this, it’s important to talk to your teachers, parents and dance directors first. They may decide against the idea or note that it isn’t the smartest move for you. Your parents or guardians may also note that they don’t have the time to teach you at home. Sometimes, you may be able to compromise. Consider meeting halfway by going to class part of the time and then attending dance classes for the rest of the day. That way, your schoolwork is still partially structured while being able to focus on dance.

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What to Expect When You’re Starting Pointe Class

pointe class

Pointe classes are something that shouldn’t be started without the go ahead of an experienced teacher, and only when a dancer is developmentally ready, strong enough and well-versed in foundational technique. When you do get the go-ahead to enroll in pointe or pre-pointe class, you’ll likely be chomping at the bit to put on those silky pink shoes and start pirouetting like the pros. Starting pointe class is a big step for any aspiring ballerina, but it’s not something to be taken lightly. Being prepared both mentally and physically is key to making the most of your first pointe classes, so here are some things first-time students should keep in mind as their initial class approaches.

“Your pointe shoes must match the size and shape of your feet.”

Respect the Pointe Shoes

There’s a lot more to pointe shoes than meets the eye. Think about it this way: Every dancer’s feet are different, so pointe shoes need to be chosen carefully. When you’re dancing in them, you’ll be resting your whole body weight on your toes, so it’s essential that the shoes conform to the shape of your foot as closely as possible. When you go for your pointe shoe fitting, the salesperson will help you determine the best shoe type for your feet, whether it’s a square box, a tapered box or some variation in between.

The video below, from the New York City Ballet, shows just how specific pointe shoe measurements are for professional ballerinas – plus, it shows some great clips of Megan Fairchild in action.

Fit isn’t the only thing you need to think about when it comes to pointe shoes. You’ll also need to learn how to properly sew your shoes, and you’ll want to decide what supplementary materials you need to comfortable dance in them. For example, some ballerinas choose to tape their toes, while others prefer to use toe pads as cushioning. There’s no “wrong” or “right” way to wear your shoes – it’s all about how you’re most comfortable.

Your First Pointe Class

When it’s time for your first pointe class, you’ll probably want to immediately do chaînés and grand jetés across the floor. Not so fast, though! The first thing you’ll learn is how to properly don and tie your pointe shoes. Chances are that you’ve been prancing around your house in your shoes, but you should pay careful attention to your teacher’s instructions. You could cause serious damage to your body if you don’t wear your shoes properly.

You'll learn the basics of tying pointe shoes in your first class. You’ll learn the basics of tying pointe shoes in your first class.

You also won’t be set free to prance around the studio either. During your first class, you’ll likely work off-pointe to improve your foot strength and mobility. If you do get to try some exercises in your shoes, your teacher will have you start slowly at the barre. Be patient, as the instructor will likely need to give students individual attention to correct their posture, stance and foot position.

As you probably realize, dancing on pointe is a whole new challenge for your feet. It may be uncomfortable for the first few classes, and you’ll likely have some blisters or sore spots after your first few classes. Michele Wiles, former principle dancer with the American Ballet Theater, explained to Capezio that her biggest challenge when starting pointe was balancing out her skills on each leg.

“I remember really noticing differences in my right and left foot,” Wiles explained. “The left foot was strong and able to do fouette turns from the very first class, but it didn’t look as flexible as the right. My right foot wasn’t as strong. The hardest part was dealing with these differences and the blister pain.”

It just goes to show that no one is automatically a natural. Even some of the most talented dancers had to overcome the challenges of pointe before they excelled, so be patient with yourself and stick with it! The efforts will pay off in the end.

 

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include more accurate ballet terminology.

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How to Improve Dancer Body Image

dancer body image

It’s no secret that young girls often struggle with self-esteem and body image, often due to the ultra-thin celebrities they idolize and the media’s portrayal of the “ideal” female figure. Here’s some advice for improving dancer body image.

Facts About Body Image

Whether you’re a studio owner, dance teacher or student, you probably realize that body image is a problem among many girls. But do you know just how prominent this issue is? Here are some facts that may surprise you:

  • According to statistics compiled by the University of Washington, 53 percent of American girls are unhappy with the way they look at age 13. By the time these young women are 17, 78 percent are displeased with their bodies.
  • Almost 95 percent of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, according to DoSomething.org.
  • A study published in the journal Psychopathology showed that non-elite ballerinas have the highest prevalence of eating disorders among non-professional athletes. The research involved 113 ballerinas – more that 20 percent exhibited unhealthy eating behaviors.
  • According to research from Emory University, dancers often use studio mirrors to compare themselves to other students, and this can lead to negative thoughts about their own bodies.

One of the most important things that dancers can take away from these statistics is that you’re not alone!

If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy body image, chances are that some of your peers are as well.

Learn to love what you see in the studio mirror. Learn to love what you see in the studio mirror.

How to Improve Your Body Image

Ready to turn the tables and start loving your body? Here are some tips for dancers who are less than happy with their reflections. Dance teachers – take note! These points may come in handy if you ever need to help a dancer with body issue problems.

  • Recognize Critique as Helpful
    Whether you aspire to be a professional dancer or are simply devoted to the discipline of dance, you’re going to be subject to critique from time to time, and some of it won’t be easy to hear. Dance Advantage explained that it’s important to externalize criticisms and realize that your teachers and coaches are helping you to improve. They’re not trying to be mean or hurtful, so try not to take their comments to heart.
  • Find a Healthy Role Model
    Instead of looking to the usual celebrities as role models, try to find a healthy, happy individual to emulate. This could be someone you know – a friend, teacher or coach – or an athlete who practices positive body image. One particularly inspiring dancer who may serve as a good role model is Misty Copeland. Check out the video below, where she explains how she chose to shake off the criticisms of her body and join a ballet company that embraces her just the way she is!
  • Don’t Compare—Be Yourself
    Ultimately, a dancer has to find their own strengths—and that includes their specific physical traits. Own your physique, and incorporate the confidence in your unique and special body into every move. Like Misty Copeland, you may not fit the “traditional” mold of your genre of dance, and that’s ok! Bring your own special persona and physicality to your art!
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How to Perfect Your College Dance Audition

college dance audition

You’ve finally narrowed down the list of schools you’re going to apply to, and have been daydreaming about life after graduation and all the excitement that comes with growing and maturing as a dancer in a college program. Big things are on their way! But first, you have to get through the college dance audition process. The pressure is tough and the competition can seem intense, but there’s a better way to think about auditions. They’re a chance for your unique personality to shine and for you to get a better sense of whether the school is the right fit for you.

A typical college dance audition begin with a ballet class and is followed by solo performances, improvised performances, classes in other styles like jazz and contemporary and even an interview process. While nervousness is natural, don’t let your anxiety get in the way of showcasing all you have to offer as a dancer. Extensive research and preparation and a positive attitude are key to making the best impression and helping you stand-out from the rest of the pack.

Follow our tips below to perfect your college dance audition.

Do Your Homework

Every college dance program is unique, and judges want to see that you’re a good fit for their program. Spend time in the weeks leading up to your audition learning all you can about the college and its program, the types of courses it offers, the styles of dance it performs and its values and mission. Think about how you can contribute to the program, and which of your personal and dance qualities line up with its values. Having these kinds of answers ready will prove useful in the interview phase.

Once you register for the audition, you will receive a packet detailing the schedule and specific requirements of the audition and what will be expected of you. Pay attention to this document and refer back to it frequently, noting the requirements for your clothing, costumes, makeup and shoes, and whether you need to bring photographs of yourself, an audition tape or a dance resume. If you have a better idea of what to expect you will feel more confident, and following the requirements carefully shows you pay attention to the details, which is a quality of any great dancer.

Devote Time to Preparing Your Solo

The solo performance is usually only 90 seconds long. In this short time you have to show the judges who you are as a dancer, which can be overwhelming! To make sure you’re truly showcasing all that you have to offer, prepare and practice your solo far in advance of the audition. Heather Guthrie, the dance coordinator at Southern Methodist University, told DanceSpirit Magazine that she recommends starting to practice your solo at least two months in advance.

It’s fine to choreograph the dance yourself, or have a coach or instructor do it for you. Even if you do it yourself, make sure you’re practicing the dance in front of teachers and receiving feedback on it so you can make it the best it can be. Focus on showing your personality in the dance, and not the number of high-flying tricks you can do, since coaches want to see your spirit and style more than flashy skills. Make sure both your technical precision and presentation skills are as well-developed as they can be. And when the time comes to perform, take a deep breath, smile and go for it, knowing you’ve prepared as best you could.

Practice in Multiple Styles

A typical feature of a college dance audition is being asked to perform in a style other than your primary one, for example having to participate in a hip-hop or jazz class when you’re trained in ballet. This is because judges want to see that you’re versatile and can adapt quickly and confidently to new choreography. Prior to audition season, add a class or two in a different style to your schedule so you can get more comfortable dancing an unfamiliar genre and also get better at learning new skills and memorizing new routines quickly.

“Focus on personality in your solo dance, not your tricks.”

However, don’t drive yourself crazy trying to learn every style of dance on the planet. These tests are more to see how you dance and act in uncomfortable situations. “Our predominant technique is Graham,” said the dance chair at SMU Patty Harrington Delaney in an interview with DanceTeacher Magazine. “A lot of people have never done Graham before, and we know that. We’re looking for their openness to the direction, their attentiveness and spatial quality.”

Calm Your Nerves

Being nervous on the big day is normal, but it’s important to keep your nerves under control so they don’t impact the quality of your performance. Don’t think about all eyes being on you, but instead think about how you are talented and have prepared to the best of your ability. Remember why you dance – for the passion, the excitement and the ability to tell a powerful story through movement. Focus on the moment you are in, and not the next test or whether you are going to be accepted or not.

Follow these tips, then take a deep breath – you’ve got this!

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How to Improve as a Dancer: Break 5 Bad Habits

how to improve as a dancer

When you stay out late and neglect your studies in school, you’re hindering your ability to perform well academically. The same holds true for certain bad habits that dancers have. If you’re skimping on sleep or eating poorly, you could unintentionally be holding yourself back from your true performance potential. Here’s how to improve as a dancer by breaking these five bad habits.

1. Not sleeping enough

Sometimes it might seem like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Whether you’re a high school student trying to balance dance and homework or a pre-professional struggling to maintain relationships while attending a conservatory, it’s absolutely essential that you stick to a strict sleep schedule. Aim for at least seven or eight hours per night – otherwise, you’ll be sluggish, easily distracted and impatient.

“People who don’t get adequate sleep – an hour or two fewer than what they really need – have a much harder time achieving a healthy body weight in the long term,” Emily Harrison, a dietician for the Centre for Dance Nutrition, explained to Dance Spirit magazine.

2. Eating poorly

Cupcakes at school and greasy pizza on the weekend are tempting, but dancers need to adhere to a healthy diet, just like any other athletes. Ensure that you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as foods with protein and fiber. This doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a sweet treat once in a while, but it shouldn’t be a regular habit.

On a related note, it’s important that you’re eating enough to support your active lifestyle. Skipping meals in an attempt to lose weight will surely backfire – it’s better to eat smart than to not eat at all.

3. Skipping warm-up or cool-down

If you’re late for class, you may be tempted to do a few simple stretches before jumping into the action. Or if you have big plans after rehearsal, you may rush off without letting your body cool down. Both of these bad habits can seriously harm your body in the long-run. Skipping warm-up makes you more prone to injuries.

“Warming up increases blood flow to all muscles in the body, which makes them more pliable,” Julie Green, physical therapist for Pennsylvania Ballet, told Dance Spirit magazine.

Similarly, taking the time to cool down will give your muscles and heart the time they need to return to normal after a long workout.

4. Dancing through an injury

According to a study by Safe Kids Worldwide, 42 percent of athletes have hidden or downplayed an injury so they could continue performing. While you probably don’t want to take time off from dance, even small injuries can become big problems if you don’t give them time to heal. If you’re ever in pain during class, don’t just push through it. Talk with your teacher and visit a doctor if necessary. You need to give your body time to recuperate if you want to be able to dance to the best of your ability.

5. Not hydrating

Many people are guilty of not drinking enough water on a regular basis, but you shouldn’t be one of them. Because dancers lose water through their sweat, it’s easy for them to become dehydrated. When this happens, you’ll be tired, nauseous and prone to cramping. Protect your body – and your performance – by drinking at least eight glasses of fluid each day. Most of this should be water. Steer clear of sugary drinks or caffeinated beverages.

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Healthy Foods for Dancers: Are Your Students Eating Too Much Sugar?

healthy foods for dancers

If you asked whether your dance students were eating too much sugar, the simple answer would be yes. Research shows that more than 70 percent of Americans consume too much added sugar on a daily basis. So in a class of 10 students, chances are that seven of them eat an unhealthy amount of sweeteners each day – shocking, isn’t it? Read on to find out the significant health risks associated with continued over-consumption of sugar and how this bad eating habit affects dancer nutrition in particular.

“70% of Americans eat too much sugar.”

Health Risks Associated With Sugar Consumption

Most people know that eating too many sugary foods cause weight gain, but there are a number of other health conditions that come along with an unhealthy sweet tooth. A study from the journal JAMA Internal Medicine showed that people who consume 25 percent of their daily calories from sugar are twice as likely to develop serious cardiovascular problems, regardless of whether they are overweight.

Other research has linked sugar consumption to high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, diabetes, dementia and other health problems.

What Happens When Dancers Overindulge?

Those are some of the long-term consequences that come along with unhealthy eating habits. However, there are also immediate side effects for dancers who drink too much soda or snack on sweets all day.

Dance magazine explained that sugar provides empty calories, and while it may give dancers a temporary energy boost, they’ll have more sustainable levels of energy when they eat complex carbs and protein-packed foods. When your students’ diets are loaded with sugary meals, they may also find it hard to build muscle or stay satiated throughout the day.

All of these factors can hold back an otherwise talented performers, so what’s a dancers to do? Don’t fret! There are simple ways that dancers can slowly decrease their sugar consumption and get into the habit of eating healthy foods for dancers.

Dancers should always choose water over sports drinks or soda.
Dancers should always choose water over sports drinks or soda.

How to Switch to Healthy Foods for Dancers

Cutting sugar consumption down to healthy levels is challenging, as sweets are addicting. However, it’s doable with the right preparation and attitude.

“Dancers should drink water – not soda or sports beverages.”

The first step dancers should take is to stop drinking sugary beverages, which are the largest source of sugar for many Americans. In general, a 20-ounce soft drink contains around 40 or more grams of sugar – more than the daily recommended intake for women. Sports drinks usually contain some beneficial ingredients like electrolytes, but they still often have high sugar levels. Dancers should drink water instead. One way to ease into the change is to use fresh fruit to sweeten the water that they’re sipping on throughout the day.

Next, dancers should identify the times when they’re prone to cravings and be prepared with healthy snacks.

“When people think they’re craving chocolate, they’re actually just craving calories,” Jan Hangen, a consulting nutritionist for the Boston Ballet, explained to Dance magazine. “Because the body is focused on getting food, the mind goes to the foods that give the most pleasure.”

Performers may want to carry fruit, trail mix or whole-wheat crackers to snack on when cravings strike. Eating a number of small meals (after doing some research and finding healthy foods for dancers) every few hours will keep dancers satiated and energized throughout practice and rehearsals.

Finally, many people think that cutting out their favorite treats completely is the best way to adjust their sugar consumption, but this can lead to binging when you have a moment of weakness. Instead, dancers could allow themselves a small treat after a particularly good class. This will make it easier to stay on track and not undo all the process they’ve made.

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Benefits of Dance: Studies Show Dancing Improves Happiness

Benefits of Dance

Sure, a great dance class can put a smile on the face of a student or teacher, but did you know it’s scientifically proven that dance makes you happier? A number of studies have shown that people who dance are less likely to be depressed and report higher levels of emotional well-being. It’s a fun fact to keep in your back pocket for the next time someone questions the benefits of dance classes!

Here’s what the studies have shown:

1. Dance Improves Self-Confidence

There’s no denying that the teenage years can be tough for girls, as they often feel pressured to look perfect and behave a certain way. This can lead to low self-confidence and high levels of stress and anxiety. Luckily, researchers in Sweden found that teenage girls who attend weekly dance classes have higher self-esteem and improved mental health. These benefits often lasted for many months!

2. Dance Reduces Anxiety

The hormones released during exercise – called endorphins – are known to improve your mood. However, Psychology Today explained that people who dance often experience more benefits than those who simply run or hit the gym. Dance can lead to a calm demeanor, improved mood and better sense of control. This can be especially helpful for dancers who are having a hard time in school or their personal lives. Not only does escaping to the studio allow students to express themselves creatively, it also gets those good hormones flowing!

3. Dancing Alleviates Stress

People tend to recommend activities like yoga or meditation for stress relief, but a study from the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine showed that dance might edge out both these activities. The researchers found that tango classes lowered individuals’ stress levels more than meditation. In this study, dancing was associated with positive emotions, better self-esteem and lessened anxiety. What’s better than that?

These scientifically proven facts are surely impressive, but nothing speaks quite as loud as the smiles on your dancers faces after a great performance. You should be proud that your studio not only teaches a beautiful art form to students of all ages, but that is also contributes to the well-being of youth in your community.

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Eating Disorders in Dancers: How to Recognize and Address Them

eating disorders in dancers

Millions of people around the country struggle with eating disorders each year, but there’s one group of individuals that are at a higher risk for developing these conditions. Research from the Journal of the Eating Disorders Association showed that dancers are almost three times as likely to struggle with eating disorders than their peers. This number is even higher for ballerinas, who often feel pressured to remain thin. It’s an unfortunate reality that many dancers battle with weight loss and eating disorders. You may think that you’ll never have to deal with this type of problem because your students are young or just recreational, but the prominence of eating disorders in dancers suggests otherwise. Studio owners need to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of eating disorders in dancers, as well as on the proper way to intervene if a student is going down an unhealthy path.

What Leads to Eating Disorders in Dancers?

It’s important to understand the atmosphere and attitude that cultivate eating disorders. CoachUp explained that dancers sometimes spend too much time in front of mirrors in skin-tight clothing, comparing themselves to other students. This competitive atmosphere, coupled with dreams of being a professional dancer, can often lead students to unsafe weight-loss methods.

“Every day before class, I would enter the studio and study my reflection in the mirror, wondering if my tummy bulged too much,” Sarah Badger, a lifelong dancer, explained to Dance Spirit magazine. “Sucking in my stomach, I’d vow that I’d become a perfect ballerina – no matter the cost. This early commitment to perfection planted the seeds for what would soon become a life-threatening battle with calories, the scale and my own reflection.”

What Signs Can Dance Teachers Watch For?

Sometimes students may feel pressured to lose weight outside of the studio as well, and the development of the condition is often outside of your control. However, the best thing you can do for your dancers is keep an eye out for any signs of eating disorders.

According to the Australia Dance Council, symptoms of eating disorders can include:

  • Sudden or rapid weight loss
  • Secretive eating habits
  • Refusal to eat in front of others
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Obsession with body image and appearance
  • Excessive exercise
  • Changes in food preferences.

Keep in mind that individuals with eating disorders will go to extreme lengths to hide and deny their symptoms. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it’s better to voice your concerns than to let it be swept under the rug.

How Should Teachers Intervene?

If you think that something needs to be done about a student with unhealthy eating or exercising habits, the ANAD recommended that you create a plan for confronting the dancer. This should likely involve speaking to the student’s parents or guardians beforehand and finding a quiet and convenient time and place to talk. You’ll also want to gather some resources that would be beneficial to the student, such as local organizations that specialize in treating eating disorders.

When talking to a dancer who you suspect may have an eating condition, it’s important to express your concerns for his or her mental and physical health. Try not to focus on the dancer’s weight or appearance – instead, discuss nutrition and overall well-being.

More than anything else, it’s essential to be open and understanding when speaking to a dancer who has an eating disorder. Chances are that you have experience with the pressure dancers feel to be perfect, so be empathetic and listen to what your student has to say. Once you’ve established a level of trust with the dancer, you can work with their parents to get the help the dancer needs.

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After the Audition Rejection Letter

audition rejection letter

One of the hardest lessons to learn as a dancer is how to handle rejection. It’s a part of everyone’s career, whether it comes early during competition team tryouts or later in life when you’re striving to go pro. Even Misty Copeland, a legendary ballerina who ended up becoming the first African American principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre, encountered rejection at some point along her path to greatness. In fact, her toils were highlighted in a viral video that was part of Under Armour’s “I will what I want” series.

The audition rejection letter read in the video is anything but sugar-coated. The school essentially told Copeland that she would probably never be a ballerina, and those harsh words are often enough to crush a young hopeful’s dreams.

So how do you shake off a bad audition rejection latter and get back on pointe? Here are some tips that will help you bounce back from even the most disappointing audition rejection letter.

Shake it Off

It’s hard not to take rejection personally, but Pointe Magazine recommended that dancers keep in mind that their art form is subjective. One director may not see your potential, but there’s probably someone out there that will – which is why you shouldn’t give up! However, you’re going to have to shake off your post-rejection slump if you want to further your career. Here are a few tips that will help you shake off the bad news:

  • Ask for Feedback: Make the most of an unpleasant experience. Ask what you could have done better and what areas you can improve in.
  • Banish Negative Thoughts: It’s easy to let unsavory thoughts creep into your mind after being rejected. “What if I’m a bad dancer? Should I just give up?” Get these thoughts out of your head. Instead, think about positive feedback you’ve received and your strengths as a dancer.
  • Do Something Fun: One of the easiest ways to perk yourself up when you’re in a slump is to do something you enjoy. Don’t rush right back into the studio – take a day and do something fun with your friends.
Channel your sadness into your dancing.

Take Your Next Steps

Once you’ve taken a few days to come to terms with the rejections, it’s important that you pick yourself up and take your next steps. Reevaluate your goals as a dancer: Do you want to try out for another dance team or company? Or should you just focus on improving your skills and auditioning again next year? Chances are that if you use the feedback you were given and dedicate yourself to improving problem areas, you have a good shot at being accepted in the future.

“Because we’re dealing with young adults, a great deal can change over the course of just six months,” Ethan Stiefel, dean of the dance program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, explained to Pointe Magazine. “I would encourage a student who’s been rejected to work hard and re-audition the following year, because they may have made huge leaps and bounds.”

Work with your teacher or coach to create a plan to achieve your new goals, and then get to work! Rejection is only the end of your road if you let it be.

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