Dancer to Dancer

(Photo courtesy Jacob Guzman)

When Jacob Guzman takes the stage in the latest Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof this month, he’ll be among some pretty strong dancers. That’s because contemporary choreographer Hofesh Shechter, whose work has been performed by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater, is reimagining the choreography. (Jerome Robbins set the musical’s original dance numbers in 1964.) But Guzman, a former comp kid who trained at The Gold School in Brockton, MA, isn’t a stranger to dancer-heavy ensembles: He made his Broadway debut in Newsies in 2012. Guzman also appeared in NBC’s “Peter Pan Live!” and has performed at Dancers Responding to AIDS’ Fire Island Dance Festival. Want to know more about Guzman? Read on for The Dirt. —JO

 

 

What’s one food you can’t live without?

Chicken

What’s your favorite dance movie?

Footloose

What’s the most-played song on your playlist?

"The Wilhelm Scream" by James Blake

What’s your most-watched TV show?

"Criminal Minds" on Netflix

Do you have any nicknames?

Jaob. I received fan mail at Newsies and the sender forgot the "c" in Jacob and it stuck.

What’s something you’re most proud of?

Making my Broadway debut with my win brother in Newsies

What’s your advice for young performers?

Always be yourself.

Your Body

Thanksgiving leftovers are easily the best part about the holiday. But digesting rich foods can sap your energy. We spoke with Emily Cook Harrison, a registered dietitian at the Centre for Dance Nutrition in Atlanta, for the scoop on the best Turkey Day leftover recipes for performance power. She suggested a number of delicious combinations, all of which are easy to prepare and transport.

(Photo via Thinkstock)

1. Cranberry-apple relish on multigrain toast

The giant bowl of cranberry sauce sitting in the fridge keeps for up to a week and can be transformed into an energy-rich breakfast treat. Harrison suggests chopping some tangy Granny Smith apples and mixing them in with the sauce. For an extra kick, shave a bit of ginger and sprinkle it in. Cranberries outrank almost every fruit when it comes to antioxidants, and with the toast’s carbohydrates, you’re sure to feel energized.

2. Wild rice and turkey salad

It’s a given that there’s always too much turkey at Thanksgiving—this dish is a great way to use up what’s left. Simmer 1 cup of wild rice in about 2 cups of water for 35–40 minutes (if you have some vegetable stock, use it instead of water for added flavor). Chop up any leftover vegetables (celery, spinach and kale work especially well) and sauté them with olive oil. Shred or slice some lean, white turkey meat and add it in. Once the rice has cooked, mix all the ingredients together. The vegetables paired with the turkey offer both antioxidants and protein, and the rice’s high magnesium content promotes sharper memory.

3. Day-after dip

Sweet potatoes are one of the most delicious Thanksgiving foods—and they’re also one of the best carbohydrates for you. Heat up any leftover potatoes, and chop up a mix of almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds. Once the potatoes are warm and easily mashable, put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend for a delectable dip. Serve it with everything from crackers to fruit.

Bye-Bye Bad Habits

Everyone has bad dance habits, and getting rid of them can feel next to impossible. According to Art Markman, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, trying to break your bad habits isn’t enough—you have to replace them with better ones, instead.

Why? For starters, if you know you’ve got a habit to break, like constantly looking in the mirror during class, it only seems natural to say, “I need to stop doing that.” The problem with this is that it’s a negative goal—something you inherently don’t want to do. And since it’s a habit, it’s nearly impossible to unlearn, because your body and mind are so used to it.

Markman says it’s much easier to learn something new than unlearn something old, so try developing a better habit to replace the bad one. If you catch yourself looking in the mirror too frequently, practice using your head to complete your épaulement—and make sure to follow the line with your eyes. A little modification can go a long way.

Did You Know?

Reaching for your laptop or scrolling through an endless feed of Instagram pics is tempting, especially during a holiday break, when you have more downtime than usual. But it’s important to limit your screen time. A number of studies have shown that our short-term memory has limited storage, and according to Erik Fransén of KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, even a single session on the internet can affect our ability to retain information. That means if you OD on @real_world_ballerina’s Instagram feed, the choreo that was fresh in your mind before break may be harder to remember once you’re back in class. Browse wisely!

Dance News
Sterling Hyltin (Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB)

Every July since 1966, New York City Ballet has headed to Saratoga Springs, NY, to perform at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the company's official summer home. This summer, the open-air amphitheater celebrates its 50th birthday—and to honor the anniversary, the company will present 17 different ballets, including the world premiere of resident choreographer Justin Peck's latest work. We chatted with NYCB principal Sterling Hyltin—who first performed at the venue in 2003 as a corps member and has been back every year since—about what makes SPAC special.

Keep reading... Show less

The vision for Paul Taylor’s reimagined company, Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, becomes fully realized this month with its spring season, opening March 16 and running through April 3. Rather than its usual all-Taylor programming, the group will perform commissioned premieres by choreographers Larry Keigwin and Doug Elkins, as well as Diversion of Angels by Martha Graham and two new Taylor works, Sullivaniana and Dilly Dilly. Dancer Heather McGinley, a Paul Taylor company member since 2011, takes us behind the scenes.

Heather McGinley rehearsing Martha Graham's Diversion of Angels. (Photo by Paul B. Goode, courtesy Paul Taylor Dance Company)

Dance Spirit: What’s it been like working with new choreographers?

Heather McGinley: Larry Keigwin and Doug Elkins are very different—it’s been thrilling to work with them. Larry’s style is a little bit closer to what we’re used to. Doug’s is more of a departure. His choreography involves a lot of break dancing, voguing and house dancing, so we had workshops to get the feel.

DS: Has Paul Taylor been involved in rehearsals?

HM: So far, Taylor’s let the choreographers have us to themselves. He hasn’t seen the final product yet. He’s been letting Larry and Doug do their thing!

DS: As a former Martha Graham Dance Company member, what does it mean to be able to perform a Graham piece again?

HM: It’s very exciting. We’ve been taking some Graham classes to get into the style, and I’m hoping it’ll be like riding a bike! Diversion of Angels is going to be really beautiful on the Taylor Company.

DS: Are Keigwin and Elkins letting Taylor’s style influence their choreography?

HM: Absolutely. It’s not like they came in and said, “Forget everything you know, I want you to move like this.” They’re very interested in seeing what we do with the movement they’re giving us.

DS: What will audiences take away from this new season?

HM: I think they’ll feel an excitement for the future of the company. It’s only been Paul Taylor for over 60 years, so it’s a pretty big departure and a big deal.

The Starz TV series “Flesh and Bone,” a fictional show about the dark side of pro ballet, is gritty, dramatic and—YAY!—full of real dancers. Sarah Hay, a Dresden Semperoper Ballett second soloist, plays Claire, a newbie in the American Ballet Company trying to find her way. Former American Ballet Theatre principal Irina Dvorovenko and former ABT soloist Sascha Radetsky play senior company members. Look closely and you’ll even see a few Alex Wong cameos.

Sarah Hay in "Flesh and Bone" (photo by Patrick Harbon, courtesy Starz Entertainment)

But warning: “Flesh and Bone” is not for the faint of heart. Its very adult themes mean you should probably ask your parents before watching an episode. And for the dancers in the show, many of the scenes were also pretty intense to create. Luckily, though, the filming process wasn’t always grim. Dance Spirit spoke with a few “Flesh and Bone” dancers to find out what things were really like on set.

“In order to deal with the show’s dark content, I’d write a ‘song of the day’ each day using insider jokes or elements from the episode we were filming. I have almost an entire album of hits, including ‘Cotton Ball Doggy,’ ‘Dressing Room Friday Nights’ and ‘Unicorn Pajamas.’ They’d get stuck in everyone’s heads—for better or worse!” —former Boston Ballet apprentice and Broadway dancer Emily Tyra, who plays Mia

“One afternoon, while we were shooting a company rehearsal,

Bryan Cranston, from ‘Breaking Bad,’ stopped by the set. He was completely charming and expressed a real interest in ballet and an admiration for dancers. At one point, as if he’d been practicing his entire life, he slid into an impeccable fifth position.” —former ABT soloist Sascha Radetsky, who plays Ross

“Physically, it was exhausting. Some days were close to 13 hours long. We all took class in the morning and then filmed our dance scenes, which were followed by the pure acting scenes at the end of the day. It was crazy to have to land an assemblé on a perfect mark and deliver lines. There were no stand-ins!” —freelance dancer Karell Williams, who plays Trey

Körbes in Swan Lake (photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet)

Carla Körbes’ Words of Wisdom

After an illustrious career at Pacific Northwest Ballet, ballerina Carla Körbes is leaving the company this June. But as sad as it is to say goodbye, the happy news is Körbes, who’s been a PNB principal since 2006, isn’t hanging up her pointe shoes yet. In fact, she’ll be performing as the artist in residence at Colorado’s Vail International Dance Festival next month.

Originally from Brazil, Körbes moved to the U.S. in the 1990s to study at the School of American Ballet in NYC. She became a New York City Ballet apprentice in 1999 and quickly joined the main company. Though she was promoted to soloist at NYCB in 2005, she moved across the country soon after to join PNB. Ten years later, on the eve of her retirement, Dance Spirit asked Körbes to reflect on what she wishes she’d known when she was starting out.

Taking time for self-praise makes you a better artist. Being self-critical perfectionists makes us better dancers. But if we only see ourselves in a negative way, our artistry will suffer. It’s crucial to recognize your talents and how far you’ve come.

There’s always more room for discovery. I grew up with very classical training, and until I was 14, I was only aware of story ballets. But at 15, when I moved to NYC and discovered Balanchine, my whole world turned upside-down. And once I joined PNB, my world got even larger as I was exposed to William Forsythe and Nacho Duato’s work. Recently, I was blown away by a Crystal Pite piece. I’ve been a dancer my entire life, and I still feel there’s so much to explore in the dance world.

Receiving criticism from teachers or ballet masters doesn’t mean you’re failing. Harsh words are sometimes meant as encouragement. But early in my career, I often took my director’s critiques too personally. I went from getting a job and being on top of the world to feeling insecure and ashamed of any weakness. Learn to use criticism as a constructive tool—it’ll help you stay positive and continue to work hard and improve. Otherwise, you’ll end up shutting down and stunting your growth as an artist.

ABT Adieus

Three other ballerinas are also taking their final bows: American Ballet Theatre principals Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent and Xiomara Reyes are retiring at the end of this season, too.

Paloma Herrera, who joined ABT’s corps de ballet in 1991, will give her final performance

as the title role in Giselle on May 27 (matinee).

Julie Kent, who joined ABT as an apprentice in 1985 and is the longest-standing ABT dancer in history, will give her farewell performance as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet on June 20.

Xiomara Reyes, who joined ABT as a soloist in 2001, will give her final performance on May 27 as Giselle.

Your Body

Megan Fairchild in George Balanchine's Theme and Variations (by Paul Kolnik)

Six Dance Bag Must-Haves

Whether you’re spending your summer competing at Nationals, taking classes at your studio or training at an intensive, it’s important to make sure nothing stops you from dancing your best. Muscle cramps, blisters and even jittery nerves can all be alleviated—if you’re prepared! We caught up with New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild to find out the dance bag items that keep her on her A-game.

1. Paper towels. “I use fresh paper towels in my pointe shoes as padding for each time I wear them. They keep my feet dry, prevent blisters and give me some extra cushioning.”

2. Foam toe spacers. “I wear these between my first and second toes to keep my bunions from getting worse. They’re lifesavers.”

3. Thera-Band. “I do a couple of exercises with a Thera-Band before class to warm up and strengthen my ankles. Then, I stretch my calves while lying on my back.”

4. Bouncy ball. “This is to warm up my feet and work out any kinks. I also use it to roll out my shins, calves and hips.”

5. Johnson & Johnson Coach Sports Tape. “Coach Sports Tape is my favorite toe tape. I wrap each big toe and little toe before every rehearsal to prevent blisters.”

6. Bach Rescue Remedy. “I don’t use this every day, but sometimes a particular ballet or rough day calls for a couple sprays on the tongue!”

 

DID YOU KNOW? Worrying over stressful situations can cause inflammation. Researchers at Ohio University found that when we constantly think about a negative circumstance—like an audition gone wrong—the protein that indicates inflammation in our bodies can rise. So the next time your mind starts to wander to the negative, think happy thoughts instead.

 

YOUR ACHES AND PAINS ADDRESSED: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

What is it? DOMS is muscle soreness that appears around 12 hours after intense exercise or dancing and intensifies over the next two to three days. This type of soreness includes muscle tension, swelling and resistance to stretching.

What causes it? DOMS is thought to have two triggers: It can result from tiny tears in your muscle tissue or the connective tissue that holds your muscle fibers together. It can also result from an alteration in your cells’ calcium levels, causing toxin build-up in your muscles.

How to deal:

•Drink lots of water, take a warm bath, use a heating pad and gently massage sore muscles for circulation.

•Do very light (no resistance) cardio, like riding a bike with no tension—increasing circulation in the muscles will help flush out toxins.

•If your muscles feel hot or swollen, alternate between applying ice and heat to the sore areas. Don’t stretch your muscles until your soreness has significantly decreased.

•If you have to use your muscles, it can be helpful to wear a gentle compression sleeve.

Consultant: Michelle Rodriguez, MPT, OCS, CMPT, is the founder and director of Manhattan Physio Group and has worked with dancers from New York City Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and more.

 

Texting while driving can distract you as much as having a blood alcohol level far over the legal limit, according to a new study published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention. Wait until you get to rehearsal to chat about the latest casting. Don’t touch your phone when you’re behind the wheel!

Your Body

(by Nathan Sayers)

Energy bars are one of the easiest snacks to toss in your dance bag, but it can be tough to find one with all the right ingredients. So why not make your own? We enlisted Marie Elena Scioscia, a registered dietician and sports nutritionist who works for The Ailey School, to help us find the perfect recipe. It’s time to invite your dance friends over and have a party in the kitchen!

Ingredients

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

2 cups uncooked quick oats

2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1 tbsp wheat germ

1 cup (total) dried cranberries and blueberries, walnuts and dark chocolate chunks

Scioscia says: “I love this combination because it’s packed with antioxidants!”

Directions

In a small saucepan, mix honey and brown sugar. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and quickly add in peanut butter. In a bowl, mix the oats, cereal, flax seed and wheat germ. Pour honey mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips, dried fruit and nuts. Press mixture into a 9”x13” pan that has been greased or lined with wax paper. Let cool and firm up. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.

Scioscia says: “This recipe contains no saturated fat, preservatives or refined sugar. Plus, it has extra fiber and healthful oils from the ground flax seeds and peanut butter.”

 

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Dance Yourself Happy

Feeling down in the dumps? Head to dance class! Researchers in a new Swedish study found that teenage girls who attend dance classes on a regular basis are happier and less likely to be depressed than girls who don’t dance. They even claim that stress, fatigue and headaches are alleviated by dance classes. The next time you’re dragging your feet on the way to rehearsal, remember there’s a good chance you’ll be leaving on cloud nine.

 

The Five-Second Myth

You’ve heard it a million times: It’s OK to eat food you’ve dropped on the floor if you snatch it up before five seconds have passed. But don’t do it! According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers at Clemson University found that bacteria were transferred from tabletops and floors to spilled food within five seconds, making it much too germy to eat.

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Dread stepping into the cold weather after a long rehearsal? A new study in the journal Emotion found that people who think about a sentimental moment—like the time you nailed that tough Aurora variation—actually feel warmer.

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