Your Body

Body Buzz

Feel-Good Friendships

Spending time with your dance team or castmates can make you a happier, more relaxed person. According to a new study from the University of Michigan, bonding activities that bring girls physically closer increase levels of the hormone progesterone. This hormone makes you feel cheerful and relaxed. High levels of progesterone also reduce anxiety. So the next time you’re perfecting a routine with your gal pals, remember that you’re helping each other feel better—even if you’ve gone over the same steps ten times! —Aminta Iriarte

Beet It!

What’s the secret to making it through back-to-back dance classes? In addition to endurance-building cardio, drinking beetroot juice might be one key to success. A new study done in the UK found that drinking beetroot juice helped participants exercise 16 percent longer. Beetroot juice contains nitrates, which reduce the amount of oxygen you need—so you’re less tired and have more stamina. Order a beetroot blended juice at your local juice bar, and ask your server to mix it with carrots and apples for a sweeter drink. —Lauren Levinson


Swap It Out! Holiday Edition!

Hot, seasonal drinks are delicious, but they can be high in fat and calories. Switch a few ingredients to warm up without tipping the scale!

Swap In:

  • Make your pumpkin spice or gingerbread latte lighter by using skim milk and requesting only 1–2 pumps of the syrups (instead of the usual 4). Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg powder into the drink to add flavor.

  • Substitute chai tea for your soy chai latte. The chai latte mix contains sugar, but a tea bag has none. Add a bit of steamed soymilk. You’ll get the creamy taste, but less milk means fewer calories. Finish with a teaspoon of honey, which is a natural sugar substitute.

  • Whip up your own healthy hot chocolate by mixing boiling water and dark chocolate powder. Make sure the cacao is at least 60 percent dark for antioxidant benefits. A bit of skim milk and few mini marshmallows make the mixture sweet.


Toe Troubles: How to Deal with Ingrown Nails

What it is: An ingrown toenail develops when the skin grows over the edge of the nail. You might have one if the area around your toenail is pinkish, swollen and sore. If it starts to pus, it may be infected, and you should see your doctor immediately.

Why it happens: Keeping your toenails trimmed when you dance is important, but cutting them too short can cause ingrown toenails. Poorly fitting shoes can also play a role, so make sure all of your dance ones fit properly!

How to treat it:

  • Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt three times a day, then keep them dry for the rest of the day. Make sure to wear tights or socks in your dance shoes to absorb excess moisture caused by sweat.

  • Gently lift the toenail and place a piece of dry cotton under the ingrown part. This will help it grow out.


Did You Know?

The average cough comes out of your mouth at 60 miles (96.5 km) per hour. It’s cold and flu season, so make sure to get extra vitamin C! And cover your mouth!

You use an average of 43 muscles to frown, but only 17 to smile. Just another reason to show off those pearly whites!

Photo by Erin Baiano

Photo by Jayme Thornton

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.

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Leap! National Dance Competition offers dancers of all skill levels an opportunity to showcase their talents in an event where the focus is on fun and competing is just a bonus!

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Dancer to Dancer

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!

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Dancer to Dancer
The School at Jacob's Pillow's contemporary program auditions (photo by Karli Cadel, courtesy Jacob's Pillow)

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.

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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.

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Leah Morrison in Trisha Brown's If You Couldn't See Me, in which the soloist never faces the audience (photo by Julia Cervantes, courtesy Trisha Brown Dance Company)

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.

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Blankenbuehler (far left) with the rest of the "Hamilton" creative team

So book your tickets to Tulsa already, people!

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Your Body
Amanda LaCount showing off her skills (screenshot via YouTube)

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.

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Watch This
Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB

Mark your calendars, bunheads! On Monday, January 29th, at 2:45 PM (EST)/11:45 AM (PST), Pacific Northwest Ballet will be streaming a live rehearsal of Act II of Kent Stowell's Swan Lake.

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Watch This
Tavaris Jones dancing with the Cleveland Cavaliers' Scream Team hip-hop crew

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.

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