At first glance, nutrition labels can seem like a foreign language or a tricky math problem—unless you've got a grip on the basics. And while it may be easier to just grab a snack when you're rushing to rehearsal, it's worth taking a closer look to know what you're getting out of your food. Dance Spirit asked Peggy Swistak, MS, RDN, CD, of Pacific Northwest Ballet, to highlight the most important components of a label, so you'll know what information to look for (and where to find it).

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(Lucas Chilczuk)

There's nothing more distracting than a throbbing head, especially when you're dancing. Headaches can happen to anyone at any time, and while they're often treatable with over-the-counter remedies and some rest, it's important to know their common causes. Dance Spirit spoke with Rosalind Gendreau, RN, BSN, and director of Health Services at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA, for tips on treating and preventing headaches before they prevent you from dancing.

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It's finally summer, which means you're probably spending as many long days outside in the sun as you are in the studio. You might think a quick mist of SPF 30 will do the trick, but there's a lot more to that number—and to sunscreen, in general. Here, we break down the sunscreen basics to keep your sunkissed skin safe.

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You've heard variations on the theme over and over again: Sugar is PURE EVIL! Go sugar-free! Don't let sugar poison your temple of a body! Etc etc.

But the truth about sugar, especially for highly active people (hello, dancers), is a bit more complicated. In fact, as a new Shape story points out, eating sugar at specific times can actually improve your performance.

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It's a fact of life: Dancers get stressed out, whether the cause is being passed over for a part, a bad class or an upcoming performance. But there's a difference between a few preshow butterflies and debilitating stress that keeps you from enjoying your passion. Dance Spirit asked the experts about how stress affects the body—and how to minimize its negative symptoms.

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It's tricky to figure out how to relate to a strict dance teacher. Not every teacher and student will jibe in the classroom, and students hoping to make it as professional dancers need to develop thick skins to be able to deal with demanding directors and choreographers later on. But instructors who target or ignore you inappropriately can be detrimental to your training—and your emotional well-being. "I'm so tense when I'm with a teacher who's intimidating," says Allison Forderkonz, a dancer in Liverpool, NY. "I spend the whole class worrying that I'll disappoint them and get yelled at." How can you cope with these awkward—and sometimes worse than awkward—situations? We asked experts, and dancers who've been there, for advice.

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Your hips don't lie—especially when it comes to pain. And while temporary soreness is normal for busy dancers, constant aching and pinching definitely isn't. Dance Spirit turned to Jenni Green, PT, MS, CFMT, and president of PhysioArts, for a basic breakdown of hip pain.

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Joe Toreno

If you follow ballet darling Juliet Doherty on Instagram—which you probably do—you already know that the two-time Youth America Grand Prix gold medalist is a self-proclaimed "plant-powered ballerina." Doherty has followed a vegan diet for four years now, and though she never forces her lifestyle on her followers or IRL friends, she does love sharing her daily eats and the plant-based meals and snacks that help her perform at her best. Curious as to what that entails? Here's a day in the life of Juliet's meat-and-dairy-free diet.

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