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Omega-3 and other healthy fats facilitate the body's production of proteins that regulate the body's inflammatory response. (Getty Images/Lisovskaya)

How to Fight Inflammation with Food

Inflammation is always frustrating, no matter how or why it happens. And as a dancer, you'll probably do just about anything to get back on your feet. But what if we told you that loading up on ibuprofen isn't the only way to handle inflammation? A simple trip to the grocery store could do the trick.

Anti-inflammatory medicines are often needed, and effective, short-term. But incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your routine can be a complementary and beneficial long-term approach. Dance Spirit spoke with Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC and author of The Inflammation Spectrum; Rachel Fine, registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of To The Pointe Nutrition; and Athena Nikolakopulos, company member at City Ballet of San Diego, to find out how to reduce inflammation—naturally.

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Freelance dancer Maya Kazzazz is exploring the world of web design and marketing (Sergio Pasquariello, courtesy Kazzaz)

3 Pro Dancers on Their Quarantine Hobbies

Quarantine has been a roller coaster, to say the least. Some of us were determined to keep dancing no matter what—whether in our living rooms or in our bathtubs—and dancing outside became the new norm. Some of us noticed that we were burnt out, and lost motivation to dance completely while being stuck at home. And others used their newfound free time to discover and develop passions and hobbies beyond dance.

For those of us who could still use a little inspiration, we chatted with three professional dancers about the hobbies they've been taking on during the pandemic, what made them dive into it, and how they feel it just might be connected to dance after all.

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Many dancers are struggling with feeling like they've fallen too far behind to ever catch up. (Getty Images/Vagengeym_Elena)

The Look-Back Trap: How Dancers Can Cope with Fears of Falling Behind

In February 2020, the Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker–choreographed production of West Side Story opened on Broadway. And in March, the world shut down. "The first email said we'd be back in two weeks. Then it was the end of the month. Then it was by the beginning of summer. Then it was the fall," recalls Matthew Johnson, who had taken time off from The Juilliard School to make his Broadway debut in the role of Baby John. "It felt like little bits and pieces of hope kept being chipped away from me." Amidst the devastation and uncertainty, he found that dance was no longer his "go-to happy place." "Every time I danced in my room or took a class online, it had this undertone of sadness," he says. He ended up not dancing for months.

Flash forward to spring 2021, and Johnson is feeling cautiously optimistic. He's finishing his sophomore year at Juilliard and getting his body, heart and mind ready for whatever comes next. (West Side Story is supposed to return when Broadway does, but at the time of this interview, the cast hadn't been given much new information.) As COVID-19 vaccines roll out, dancers around the world are in a similar boat—but not everyone shares Johnson's optimism. Many dancers are struggling with feeling like they've fallen too far behind to ever catch up. If you're stuck in this negative place, try these strategies to move forward.

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Alex Wong (Collette Mruk, courtesy Alex Wong)

6 AAPI Dancers Share Their Stories

Last year, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 150 percent in many of America's largest cities. And last month, a mass shooting in the Atlanta area took the lives of eight people, six of them Asian women. Since then, the attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have continued, sparking a national movement to stop AAPI hate.

In light of this, Dance Spirit wanted to help amplify the voices of AAPI dancers. We asked six to share their thoughts about anti-Asian racism and how it appears in the dance world. Here's what they had to say.

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The good news? Every cheat can be beat. (Lucas Chilczuk)

Beat the Cheat: Combat Flailing Arms with These Targeted Fitness Exercises

As dancers, we all have our vices—those little technique cheats that we know are incorrect, and we try our best to fix whenever we can remember...but at the end of the day, we just can't seem to banish them for good. After all, these cheats usually appear to help us: They can get our legs higher and our petit allégro a little faster, not to mention help us crank out that one extra rotation in a turn we dream about. Unfortunately, cheating proper technique also sets dancers up for a myriad injuries caused by improper alignment and undue stress on the body.

The good news: Every cheat can be beat. That is, when you know exactly what muscles and mobility pathways you need to strengthen in order to execute the step correctly. To help on that front, Amber Tacy, personal trainer and founder of the dancer-focused fitness community Dancers Who Lift, is here to guide you through a series of exercises designed to help you overcome the most common dancer cheats.

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