V-Day without a Valentine, Natural Sweetness, Altruism and More
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HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY TO ME!
Between school, technique classes, rehearsals and homework, you barely have enough time to hang out with friends, let alone a boyfriend. But when February 14 rolls around—with its abundance of candy hearts, flowers and teddy bears—it’s natural to find yourself longing for a valentine. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: Be your own valentine! Dr. Linda Hamilton, a performance psychologist who’s a wellness consultant with New York City Ballet, offers tips on how to transform this over-played holiday into a celebration of you.
Keep things in perspective. First things first: You have to get over the hype. Valentine’s Day is just that: a day. “Remember that having a boyfriend isn’t everything,” says Hamilton. “A lot of your friends may not be emotionally ready for their relationships yet.”
Make it fun. Just because you don’t have a significant other doesn’t mean you have to spend Valentine’s Day alone. Get together with your single friends and throw a dance party or watch a movie. “Avoid gushy romantic movies and opt for a fun, scary one,” Hamilton says.
Treat yourself. Schedule a relaxing manicure, or purchase a teddy bear with a heart on its belly. It may feel strange at first, but Hamilton says, “It’s OK to do that for yourself.”
Remember how fortunate you are. You probably have a lot of love in your life, even if it’s not the kind of love traditionally associated with Valentine’s Day. Take a moment to appreciate your friends and family, and to remember those who are less fortunate.
SUGAR, SPICE AND EVERYTHING NICE
When you’re craving something sweet, artificial sweetener may seem like a great option—all the deliciousness without all the calories. But research suggests artificial sweetener can actually amplify your craving: When your body wants sugar, it wants the real deal. Here are a few ways to satisfy your sweet tooth naturally, without giving yourself a sugar rush.
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1. Get fruity. The natural sugars in fruit will give you the sweet taste you crave without the concentrated jolt of sugar that fruit-flavored candy provides.
2. Get grillin’. Grilling is a great way to bring out the natural sweetness in food. You’ll find that even some veggies—like onions and tomatoes—start tasting sweet once they’re caramelized on the grill. Juicy grilled fruit is an especially sweet treat.
3. Get spicy. Think about the spices we associate with dessert: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves. While these spices contain no sweetness on their own, they can help bring out the natural sweetness in foods like plain yogurt, sweet potatoes and fruit.
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DID YOU KNOW?
Drinking hot cocoa is good for brain health. According to a recent study by neurologists at Harvard Medical School, flavonol-rich cocoa powder may assist in a process called neurovascular coupling—basically, the way blood gets to the areas of the brain we’re using. Efficient blood flow in the brain helps protect our memories. So go ahead and cuddle up by the fire with a mug of hot cocoa!
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According to the Mental Health Foundation, altruism—helping others—is a great way to boost self-esteem. Consider taking time on Valentine’s Day to volunteer, visit a grandparent or make valentines for your friends.
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.
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
If you're in need of a piece that's both trendy and sophisticated, look no further than this Só Dança crop top. Featuring elegant long sleeves, a high neckline, and a delicate lace trim, it's both classic and contemporary—perfect for everything from that big audition to a long night in the studio. Enter below for your chance to win it!
Auditioning for summer intensives in person may be the ideal—but for Anna McDowell, a 16-year-old student at Juneau Dance Theatre in Juneau, AK, it's rarely possible. “Living in Alaska, it's difficult to travel to auditions," she says. “It gets way too expensive!" Instead, each year, with help from her teachers and a videographer, she puts together a well-crafted video and submits it to schools around the country. Last year, her high-quality video helped her earn acceptance to nearly every program she applied for. Most summer intensive programs, eager to attract students from far and wide, will accept video auditions from those who can't travel to take class. But major schools look at hundreds of submissions each year, which means video auditioners have just a few minutes—or even seconds—to make a great impression. If you're about to create an audition video, follow these tips from the professionals to put your best digital foot forward.
There are zillions of things to think about when choosing a summer program, but here's one you might not have considered: using an intensive as an opportunity to focus on a new style. Maybe you're a tap dancer who's ready to see where else your rhythm and quick feet can serve you, or a contemporary dancer curious about the more traditional roots of your genre. A summer program can be the perfect place to broaden your horizons, giving you the opportunity to make technical and artistic changes that stick throughout the year.
Happy birthday, George Balanchine! The great choreographer and founder of New York City Ballet would have been 114 years old today. Balanchine revolutionized ballet, especially American ballet—and he also had quite a way with words. To celebrate Mr. B's birthday, we rounded up some of our favorite iconic Balanchine quotes.
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.