Butter Me Up
A few years ago, making a PB&J sandwich was simple. You'd go to the store for nut butter and find three choices: Jif, Skippy or Peter Pan peanut butter—all of which are delicious, but each of which has health drawbacks like added sugars and hydrogenated fats. These days, though, there are as many types of nut butters as there are flavors of jam, and each one claims to be healthier than the next. With so many different options, how do you know which to choose? DS decided to investigate.
Peanut butter is a tried-and-true favorite. The most common nut butter, it's also generally the least expensive. Like all nut butters, peanut butter is fairly high in fat (about 16 grams for a 2-tablespoon serving), but most of it is the “good kind," known as monounsaturated fat. According to Marie Elena Scioscia, a registered dietician and sports nutritionist who works for The Ailey School, this type of fat “is very heart protective and good for you." Plus, she adds, “fat is needed for energy and immunity," which means it'll help you get through those long rehearsals. Peanut butter also has more protein—8 grams per serving—than other nut butters.
You can find almond butter in most regular grocery stores, but it does tend to be more expensive—especially if you buy organic. Almond butter has slightly more calories and fat per serving than peanut butter, and only about half the protein. So what are the benefits? Almond butter is a good source of other important nutrients like calcium and magnesium, which Scioscia says are important for bone health. It's also dense in potassium and folate. “Folate is an important B vitamin that may be useful in keeping cells healthy and which promotes a healthy gut," Scioscia says. “Potassium is an electrolyte lost in sweat that's needed to prevent muscle cramps."
Cashew butter isn't super-mainstream, but that doesn't mean it's not worth seeking out. It's another great source of monounsaturated fats, magnesium and folate. With about as many calories as peanut butter and slightly more protein than almond butter, it can be a great alternative for those looking for a slightly different taste. (If you like the taste of plain cashews, you'll like the taste of cashew butter!) You just may have a harder time finding it.
Sunflower Seed Butter
Butters made from sunflower seeds have gotten more popular in recent years. Sunflower seed butter might have the strongest taste out of all these different options, so if you love sunflower seeds, this is the nut butter for you! It also packs a lot of nutrition: It has the lowest fat content of all the aforementioned nut butters, and it's second only to almond butter in terms of how much calcium it offers. Plus, it's a great source of magnesium (which affects your muscle response, bone metabolism and immune system) and folate, making it a good choice for active bodies.
Nutella and Artificially Flavored Nut Butters
Although we can't deny that Nutella is delicious, you may not want to dip into the jar on a daily basis. Randi Belhumeur, a registered dietician with Integrated Medical Weight Loss in Rhode Island, gives Nutella a “thumbs down in terms of a healthy choice. The first ingredient in Nutella is sugar. The second ingredient is palm oil, a saturated fat. And the
third is hazelnut." Scioscia also warns that Nutella contains soy and whey—things many people are allergic to. “I would say to use it very sparingly," she says.
The Bottom Line?
What's not in your nut butter may actually be more important than what is. When you're trying to decide, Belhumeur advises “comparing the labels. Try to buy something that's just ground nuts and oil, without added sugar." Scioscia says that natural nut butters without added salt would be the absolute best choice. “Salt can make our bodies excrete calcium, which is especially dangerous for dancers concerned about bone health."
Other than that, the type you choose really depends on your taste. So the next time you're in the nut butter aisle trying to figure out what to choose for your pre-dance-class snack, don't fret! Stick to a jar that contains only nuts and oil, and you really can't go wrong—just keep your serving sizes in check. Grab your favorite kind and get spreading. Better yet, try one of each!
What's more daunting than getting into your dream college dance program? Figuring out how you'll cover the costs of tuition, room and board, incidental expenses and more. Here's the good news: The right scholarship(s) can bring your dream school well within reach.
Look Around, Look Around
Scholarship applications are due between the fall of senior year and graduation time, so familiarize yourself with funding opportunities during the spring of junior year. And there are a lot of opportunities out there, says Kate Walker, chair of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. "A lot of school guidance counselors now have software that automatically matches you with scholarships," she says.
Seek out scholarships on your own, too. According to Walker, "a lot of corporations are required to have some community engagement, including offering scholarships, so research corporations in your community." Your parents' employers might offer assistance too, says Doug Long, an academic and college counselor at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, MI. "They might have scholarships you can apply for just because your parent works there."
Other sources of grant money you won't have to pay back (as you would a loan)? The YoungArts Foundation; competitions/conventions, like New York City Dance Alliance; and the university or dance department you're applying to. Even some scholarships aimed at athletes are open to dancers!
A winning scholarship application involves a fair amount of paperwork, especially if the organization requires you to show financial need. In addition, certain scholarships ask for the College Board's CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which gives the awarding organization a more complete picture of your family finances.
Other ingredients of a successful scholarship application include recommendation letters, a dance and/or academic resumé and an essay or statement of purpose. Treat these components just like college applications: Have multiple trusted adults proofread your materials, and ask for recommendation letters or transcripts long before deadlines.
A note for non-dance scholarships: Including objective measures of achievement can only help you. "List national recognitions, like YoungArts or other competitions," says Long. "That shows the scholarship committees that people at high levels have acknowledged you as an artist of quality." And don't forget who your audience is. "Especially in writing samples, make sure you paint a vivid picture for your reader," Walker says. "Don't assume they know about all the things—like barre every day—that we as dancers take for granted."
No award amount is too small to be worth your time and effort. As Walker says, "Don't pooh-pooh a couple hundred dollars in award money, because any scholarship is funding that you didn't have yesterday."
A version of this story appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "All Aboard the Scholar-ship."
Every ballet dancer knows the time, sweat, and occasional tears the art form demands. But many non-dancers are clueless about just how much work a ballet dancer puts into perfecting his or her dancing. So when the mainstream crowd recognizes our crazy work ethic, we'll accept the round of applause any way it comes—even if it comes via four men in tutus. Yep, we're talking about "The Try Guys Try Ballet" video.
Remember that fabulous old-school clip of dancers tapping in pointe shoes that Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo brought to our attention back in March? As we mentioned then, toe-tap dancing was actually super popular back in the 1920s and 30s—which means there are more videos where that one came from. And because #ToeTapTuesday has a nice ring to it, we thought we'd take this opportunity to introduce you to Dick and Edith Barstow, a toe-tapping brother and sister duo from that era who are nothing short of incredible:
Guess who's back? Back again? The Academy's back! Tell a friend.
After one day at The Academy, the All Stars have successfully taken the Top 100 down to 62. But their work is just getting started: Now they need to keep narrowing the field to a Top 10, ultimately deciding who each will partner with during the live shows.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns is some SERIOUS #goals. Her strength and power onstage borders on superhuman. But what's extra magical about Mearns is that she really puts in the fitness and cross-training work outside of the rehearsal studio. And she's overcome her fair share of injuries. Which is why she was the perfect source for Vogue's latest ballet fitness story.