Beating Nutcracker Syndrome, Bruised Toenails and More
You’ve been in Nutcracker rehearsals for months, and opening night is just days away. You’re confident in your ability to nail every variation—but worried about how your body (and mind) will hold up. Never fear! Here, Kristina Lind, a member of San Francisco Ballet’s corps de ballet, shares her tips for not only surviving, but thriving, during Nutcracker season.
San Francisco Ballet corps member Kristina Lind in Helgi Tómasson's Nutcracker (photo by Erik Tómasson)
Take your vitamins. “I make sure to stock up on packets of Emergen-C. The stale theater air inevitably zaps everyone’s immune system at some point, and the extra vitamin C really helps.”
Eat smart. “If I have an extra-long performance day, I like to eat fish with lots of fresh vegetables the night before. The day of the show, I make a fruit and vegetable smoothie to sip throughout the day, and I pack trail mix to munch on.”
Find inspiration. “I mentally prepare for my first—or thousandth!—Nutcracker performance by thinking about all the little girls in the audience who are experiencing the magic of the ballet for the first time.”
Focus on the positive. “Don’t think too much about the monotony of Nutcracker. Instead, focus on how good it feels to perform. When I experience the joy of being onstage, I know I’ll be able to physically and mentally survive the long run of shows.”
YOUR ACHES AND PAINS ADDRESSED: Bruised Toenails
What is it? A hematoma (blood clot) under the nail.
What causes it? When an object or shoe lands on your toenail, it can cause immediate bleeding under your nail. However, among dancers, a bruised nail is usually the result of micro-trauma—repetitive pressure to your nail. If a long toenail is pushed over the nail bed while on pointe, or if a dancer knuckles her toe while on pointe, small clots will develop under the nail, painfully lifting it away from the nail bed.
How to deal: Apply rubbing alcohol a few times daily to prevent a bacterial infection. If possible, a healthcare professional should use small needles to puncture and drain the clots. Once the blood is drained, your nail can be compressed to the nail bed with Steri-Strips. It’s best to stay off pointe for two to three days to allow your nail to properly adhere. Then, apply Microfoam tape daily before dancing to compress and cushion the nail.
How to prevent it:
•Keep your toenails cut to the edge of your toe.
•Avoid knuckling your toes. This often occurs in dancers who are compensating for weak foot muscles. Strengthen your intrinsic foot muscles and use your core muscles to pull your feet up out of your shoes.
DID YOU KNOW?
Hot yoga isn’t necessarily better for you than regular yoga. In fact, new research from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests you’ll burn the same amount of calories in a cooler room as you will in an extra-steamy one. If you’ve been avoiding getting your “om” on because you dislike the heat (extreme temps can make you sick if you don’t stay hydrated), grab your mat and head for a nice, cool yoga class instead.
Having trouble sticking to healthy eating? Get more sleep! According to a new study at Uppsala University in Sweden, sleep deprivation makes you more likely to crave junk food. Get to bed early and it’ll be easier to load up on the fruits, veggies and proteins you need to power through every class.
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.