Everything Dancers Should Know About Electrolytes

When you lose electrolytes, you also lose energy, which can make class a lot harder (Thinkstock)

Chances are, you've heard of electrolytes—but you might not know what they really are, why you need them, or how to get them. Dance Spirit asked Emily Cook Harrison, a registered dietitian at the Centre for Dance Nutrition in Atlanta, GA, for a crash course on this key performance component.


What They Are

"Electrolytes are essentially minerals—sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium," Harrison explains. They're found in your blood and cells, and are essential for a laundry list of functions. But their primary role is maintaining blood volume, or the amount of fluid that your body, muscles, and blood have at any given time.

Why Dancers Need Them

Low electrolyte levels can lead to painful muscle cramping (Thinkstock)

Electrolytes regulate muscle hydration, and well-hydrated muscles are crucial for dancers. When you start sweating after a particularly intense combo, you're losing lots of the key electrolyte sodium by way of your sweat—and that can cause a myriad of symptoms. "If you're cramping up after a long rehearsal, it's likely because your muscles are dehydrated," Harrison warns.

How to Get Them

A smoothie is the perfect way to replenish your electrolytes (Thinkstock)

You might think grabbing a Gatorade or Powerade is the fastest way to replenish electrolytes, and that's not wrong. Those types of drinks are specially formulated with the right ration of electrolytes. But Harrison warns against their processed ingredients and high levels of sugar. Instead, she recommends choosing foods that are rich in the four key minerals—sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. "A smoothie with banana, almond milk, leafy greens, and a sprinkle of salt checks off all the boxes," Harrison says. You can also keep almonds, chia seeds, carrots, celery sticks, or an orange handy for some quick snacking between rehearsals and sips of water.


A version of this story appeared in the December 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "They're Electro-fying!"

Dance News
School of American Ballet students (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy SAB)

Do you have a "Strictly Ballet"–sized hole in your heart? Good news: The upcoming docuseries "On Pointe" just might fill it.

The School of American Ballet is teaming up with Imagine Documentaries and DCTV for the project. Though it's not yet clear where "On Pointe" will air, we do know that it'll follow talented SAB students preparing for professional ballet careers—much as Teen Vogue's popular "Strictly Ballet" web series did back in the day. But "On Pointe" marks the first time documentary filmmakers have been allowed access to the school, and it sounds like it'll paint an even more complete picture of the dancers' lives inside and outside the studio.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance News
Including, of course, "Single Ladies" (Vevo)

Choreographer Bob Fosse's signature style—with its jazz hands, inverted knees, and slouched shoulders—is still a huge influence in the dance world (and, thanks to the gloriously dancy FX series "Fosse/Verdon," the TV world). But while you know to expect plenty of Fosse-isms during a stage performance of Chicago or Sweet Charity, Fosse's legacy has also seeped into pop music culture, inspiring the likes of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. Here are just six of the many music videos that reference Fosse's iconic works.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance Videos
Gabrielle Hamilton in John Heginbotham's dream ballet from Oklahoma! Photo by Little Fang Photo, courtesy DKC/O&M

Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.

The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, extraordinary ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.

As usual, several Dance Spirit faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:

Keep Reading Show less
Dance News

Video

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Giveaways