7 Tips to Help You Stay in Peak Performance Shape While Touring

Many dancers dream of going on tour and performing for packed houses in glamorous cities around the world, but touring life can also mean long days and sore muscles. The stress of travel and change in routine can take a toll on the body, and you may have to make a special effort to stay healthy, technically strong and injury-free. Here are some things to keep in mind before heading out on the road.

1: Adapt to unpredictable conditions. From delayed flights to freezing theaters, know that not everything will go as smoothly as you'd like. It's important not to get overwhelmed by the different elements you'll have to deal with, "whether it's different studio space or a time change," says San Francisco Ballet corps member Megan Low, who has toured with the company for eight seasons. Take a step back and be sensitive to how your body reacts.

2: Find an exercise routine and stick with it. Between rehearsals, shows and traveling to the next venue, it may seem like there's no time for a basic workout. The trick is to find a personalized regimen that you can do anywhere, including your hotel room, airport terminals and backstage. Try a simple ballet warm-up or a series of yoga or Pilates mat exercises. Do crunches and push-ups each night to help keep muscles toned, and stretch whenever you have a few idle minutes. (Gentle stretching is especially important after flights or bus rides, because muscles tend to stiffen after long periods of sitting.) It's up to you to take stock of what your body needs and to have the discipline to make exercise a priority.

3: Pack lots of goodies. "Many of us travel with what we call our dancer toys: Dynabands, Thera-bands, tennis balls you can roll on," says Maria Bauman of Urban Bush Women. Pack these essentials in your carry-on luggage, so that you can pull them out anywhere, even on the plane.

4: Take advantage of hotel facilities. Many hotels offer access to workout rooms, pools and saunas, so upon arrival, find out what, if any, facilities are available during your stay. If they aren't open at times convenient to your schedule, ask for extended hours.

5: Look for class opportunities. If you're touring with a ballet or modern dance company, chances are you'll have company class almost every day. Broadway touring shows, on the other hand, generally don't offer class. So where do you go to keep technique in tune? If you don't have time to leave the theater, ask to bring in a local guest teacher for the cast. Another possibility is to take class at local universities. Offer to teach a class in exchange for allowing fellow dancers to take it along with the college students. "When we were performing in college cities, we would often teach master classes at the colleges," says former Parsons Dance Company member Marty Lawson. "It was a great opportunity to work on our own skills as well."

6: Take time to relax. Don't let the hectic schedule of a performance tour wear you down. Even if you're out late after a show, stretch and relax before going to bed. If you're jet-lagged, adjust to the new time zone as soon as possible. (Don't sleep all day.) Your body will respond better to the intense demands of a tour—and you're less likely to get injured if you're well rested.

7: Eat healthy, regular meals. One of the most important elements of staying in shape is a healthy diet, but life on the road can mean fast food and few opportunities for nutritious meals. "Oftentimes, especially late at night after a performance, it's difficult to find restaurants that are open, so you just have to go with what's available," Low explains. If you're staying in a city for several days, purchase groceries and cook healthy meals in your hotel. You can even host a potluck with your fellow dancers. Keep portable snacks such as nuts and fruit on hand, so you're never caught with an empty stomach.

Latest Posts


Trans dancer, choreographer, and activist Sean Dorsey in his work Boys in Trouble (Keegan Marling, courtesy Sean Dorsey Dance)

8 Phenomenal Trans and GNC Dancers to Follow

Whether through color-specific costumes, classes separated by sex, or the "traditional" view of the roles boys and girls should play in ballet, most dance students are taught that their gender determines their role in the studio beginning in elementary school. And, especially for those struggling with their own gender identity, that can cause harm and confusion. "From a very young age, I did not see myself reflected anywhere in the modern dance field," says trans dancer, choreographer, and activist Sean Dorsey. "There was a really intense message I received, which was that my body and identity don't have a place here."

Despite significant societal progress in regards to gender representation, the dance world has trailed behind, and many transgender and gender nonconforming teenagers still feel lost within the world of dance. Prominent trans and GNC professional dancers are few and far between. "Being a Black trans woman means I have to work extra, extra, extra hard, because I have to set the tone for the people who come after me," says Brielle "Tatianna" Rheames, a distinguished voguer.

But the rise of social platforms has given Rheames, Dorsey, and other trans and GNC dancers a path to visibility—and that visibility helps create community and change lives. "Social media plays an extremely big part," Rheames says. "You can't just hide us anymore." Here are eight incredible trans and GNC dancers to add to your own Instagram feed.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search