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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.

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Dance News
Shwetali Sapte, courtesy Boston Ballet

Yes, Dance Spirit, there really is a Santa Claus. And we've got proof—namely, the delightfully silly stunt Boston Ballet's Nutcracker Bear pulled off last week to celebrate the start of ticket sales for BB's 2017 production of the holiday ballet classic.

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Dance News

It's officially Nutcracker season, and you know what that means: Snow! Sugarplums! Hot chocolate! 40-foot tall Christmas trees!

This year, Boston Ballet took their performance previews to the next level. Their "Frozen Snowflakes" video captures the spirit of the snow scene from every angle imaginable by using awesome 3-D imagery. (ABT just used a similar method with a 360-degree camera for its backstage tour of Lincoln Center). We rounded up our favorite GIFs from the video, and be sure to check it out in full here!

<3 <3 <3

Wheeeee!!

 

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A few weeks ago, The Huffington Post did a piece on dancer fashion at New York City Ballet. Now they have an up-close-and-personal look at the backstage world of the company's Nutcracker.

While some of it is a little basic for those of us well-versed in the world of Nut, other bits are totally fascinating. Yes, you already know how to apply stage makeup. But have you seen Ashley Bouder apply her stage makeup? And yes, you know that costumes always look better from the stage than they do up close. But did you know that one of the reasons NYCB's costumes are dingy is because they're iconic designs Barbara Karinska created 60 years ago, and replacing them requires hunting down specific fabrics and trims that may no longer exist?

We've posted some of our favorite photos from the piece below. You can find the whole story here.

(All photos Raydene Salinas/HPMG)

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How To
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Every ballet dancer has a pointe shoe prep process that's akin to a sacred ritual. And while some modifications are meant to make feet look prettier, the most critical tricks help those precious shoes last as long as possible—because at $60 to $100 a pop, they have to. We rounded up some of the best hacks to get your shoes through the intensity of Nutcracker season.

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Dance News

Nutcracker is always a bit of a slog. But in the days between Christmas and New Year's? Ayyyyyyyy. Sure, the end of the run is in sight, but that also means you've already put your poor feet through dozens of shows. And without all the holly-jolliness of holiday shopping and cookie baking and present wrapping to distract you from how much your body hurts, YOUR BODY HURTS SO DARN MUCH.

MOOD.

That's why we've rounded up our top five Nutcracker survival tips. Because you need them more this week than ever. Because with a little bit of self-care and a lotta bit of mental steeling, you can do it.

1. Eat smart. You need to fuel that aching instrument of yours properly! Try following former San Francisco Ballet and current Dutch National Ballet dancer Kristina Lind's Nutcracker diet, which involves lots of fish, fresh vegetables and healthy snacks.

2. But also, eat more cookies. Take a tip from former Boston Ballet and now American Ballet Theatre principal Jeffrey Cirio: Cookies are delicious, and boy, have you ever earned them.

3. Mix up your makeup. Have a little fun with it! Why not try out the SUPER big fake lashes for show #30? Or add a little shimmer to your skin for show #35? Boston Ballet principal Lia Cirio (yup, she and Jeff are siblings—so cute) is all about glitter: "I love getting to sparkle for the audience, especially the children."

4. Play a Nut brain game. When Kathryn Morgan was doing 40+ Nutcrackers a year with New York City Ballet, she and her castmates would fight the doldrums by thinking of a "theme" for each performance. "We might say, 'Tonight, everyone dance as your favorite Disney princess!' Or, 'Let’s be kids playing in the snow on Christmas morning!' ” How fun is that?

5. Remember that each and every show, someone in the audience is seeing ballet for the first time. More words of wisdom from Lia C: "Nutcracker helped me fall in love with ballet, and now I’m living my dream. Who knows–I could be helping someone else’s dreams come true!"

Merde, all you special Snowflakes!

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If there's one thing we can't get enough of, it's ballerina makeup tutorials. And this Christmas, Elle has gifted us with an amazing look at five NYCB dancers' Nutcracker looks. Unsurprisingly, these ladies are pros—after all, they dance in around 50 performances, which means lots of time to perfect their looks! From Sugarplum Fairy to Snow, watch these dancers transform before your eyes.

Lauren Lovette's lovely Sugarplum Fairy look (photo by Kathryn Wirsing, via Elle)

 

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Dance News

We're reaching the time of year when the fatigue of Nutcracker, regionals and school haven't quite been replaced by late-season stamina and the mercy of winter vacation.

But guess what? You're almost there, and we've got your back. Here are a ton of tried-and-true ways to stay motivated and healthy through the tough winter season.

Food

Don't go to bed hungry. Nothing's worse than starting a day of school/rehearse/homework/perform/homework/repeat with a calorie deficit. And when you're working in close quarters with a ton of other dancers, #hanger should be avoided at all costs.

(San Francisco Ballet, photo by Erik Tomasson)

Focus

Be a better understudy. Yes, you're dancing 13 performances of "Waltz of the Flowers," and yes, you're tired. But that doesn't mean you can slack off in rehearsals—especially if you're "only" an understudy. Show your professionalism by getting the sleep, fuel and healthcare you need to be your best, even when the spotlight is on someone else.

Health

Address small aches and pains before they become full-blown injuries. Blisters and swelling come with the territory for dancers, but that doesn't mean you can ignore them. Nothing will sideline you quicker than an infected blister or Achilles' tendonitis.

(New York City Ballet, photo by Paul Kolnik)

Beauty

If you're doing your hair on autopilot at this point, try switching things up with a new 'do. Or, use countless shows and rehearsals as a way to (subtly!) test out new makeup looks, like classy contouring, super-bold eyelashes or a shimmery glow.

Pre- and Post-Show

Reinvest in your warmup. There's having an active pre-show ritual, and then there's slamming down into the splits while scrolling through Instagram. Take 10 minutes before rehearsal for this quick total-body workout to center yourself.

Cooling down is as important as warming up. After class, rehearsal or performance, take a few minutes to stretch. Your body will thank you in the morning by letting you walk (maybe). When you have a little more down time, try these relaxing yoga postures.

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