Photo by Camryn Elizabeth, courtesy Djouliet Amara
At age 23, Djouliet Amara is a successful professional dancer signed with a talent agency in NYC. She's studied at The Ailey School and even danced in "Memoria" with The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Having performed at City Center and appeared in numerous commercial campaigns for brands like Forever 21, Refinery29, and Danskin, it would appear that Amara is living a life most dancers only dream of. But as glamorous and successful as her career has been, Amara's journey to this point has not been an easy one. Her biggest challenge was her battle with an eating disorder that nearly cost Amara her career. Find out how this dancer found body acceptance and, in so doing, uncovered a dream she never knew she had. —Katherine Beard
Warning: This story may be triggering for those who have suffered or are suffering from disordered eating.
Your biscuits aren't the only things that take a beating during Nutcracker season—your (constantly sprayed, straightened, curled, and gelled) hair does, too. And while using heat tools and products is inevitable, there are plenty of ways to maintain a healthy mane through December. Here are our top tips.
Jenelle Manzi shares her favorite Thanksgiving recipes (courtesy Manzi)
Thanksgiving is almost here and that means that come tomorrow there will be lots and lots of food to eat (cue happy dance!!!). And because there's always room on the Thanksgiving table for more dishes and treats, we asked New York City ballet dancer and food blogger Jenelle Manzi (who is no stranger to creative culinary concoctions) for her favorite fall recipes of the moment. Whip up these tasty treats as apps before the big meal or serve them as additional side dishes—because there are never too many of those. Happy eating!
It's more than okay to fill your plate up with #allthefood at Thanksgiving dinner, but certain dishes can make the post-holiday slump all too real in dance class the next day. To combat that sleepy, too-full feeling, try swapping a few Thanksgiving staples for lighter (but just as flavorful!) options.
After a dance-packed day, it's not uncommon for your lower body to be swollen. This phenomenon isn't anything to worry about, but it can be uncomfortable. Luckily, there are a number of easy fixes—and ways to prevent swelling altogether. Dance Spirit turned to Jessica Lassiter, DPT, OCS, ATC, CMPT, a physical therapist and certified athletic trainer in NYC, for a crash course on how to stop the swell.
Madi Hicks in Jeff Edwards' ballet class at Juilliard (Kenneth Edwards)
You know what unfortunately goes hand in hand with the greatest time of year? The dreaded cold and flu season. But, never fear—you can stay ahead of the curve this year by keeping your immune system working smoothly before the sniffles set in. We've rounded up our best tips and tricks to help you stay healthy (and dancing!) all season long.
You and your phone have more in common than you might guess, says Dr. Rafael Pelayo, pediatrician and clinical professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine. "If you charge your phone halfway, it works for a few hours," he explains. "But it's not performing at its full potential, and you have to be careful about how you use that energy."
It'd be nice to just plug into the wall for nine hours until you hit 100 percent battery, but for (human) dancers, it's not that simple. So DS asked Dr. Pelayo and Dr. Argelinda Baroni, co-director of the Child and Adolescent Sleep Program in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, how to maximize your own battery life—ensuring you'll dance better and more safely in the process.
You've probably heard that protein is essential in a dancer's diet. But you might not know what protein actually does for your hardworking bod, how much you should be eating, and—gasp!—why it could actually be overrated. We asked Andrea Chernus (a registered dietitian nutritionist who advises Juilliard students and Hamilton cast members) and Nora Minno (a certified personal trainer, registered dietitian, and former pro dancer) to spill all the protein pointers they share with their dancer clients.
Fitness fads come and go, but one has stood the test of time: Pilates. Dancers swear by this full-body workout as an effective cross-training regimen. The low-impact moves are easy on any nagging injuries and help keep you lean, toned, centered, and flexible. Dance Spirit turned to Youn Kyung Lee, owner of 21 Pilates in NYC, for four mat-based exercises that'll serve your dancer bod best.
Photos by Jayme Thornton. Modeled by Alicia McGinty.
Pointe shoes can transform even the simplest steps into ethereal movements of elegance and beauty as anyone who's ever seen a ballerina bourree on pointe can attest. It's no wonder that young dancers long for the day when they too may don a pair of pink satin shoes. But there are a ton of misconceptions—even among dancers—about what pointe work involves. We asked Children's Healthcare of Atlanta physical therapist Colleen Crosby, who specializes in helping young athletes, to debunk common pointe shoe myths.
More studio time = more improvement? Not always, according to Roman Zhurbin, American Ballet Theatre soloist and certified personal trainer. "It's absolutely necessary to take rest days so your body can reset and you stay motivated," says Zhurbin. "Seven days a week of hard training is just unhealthy." What is healthy: letting your body recover from a jam-packed dance schedule so you can give your best possible performance.
School cafeterias often conjure up less-than-appetizing images—mystery meats, mushy vegetables, and stale cheese sandwiches are just a few of the things that come to mind. And while this isn't always the case, it can often be a challenge to follow a satisfying, dance-friendly diet if you're buying your lunch at school. Dance Spirit asked Heidi Skolnik, MS, CDN, FACSM, and owner of Nutrition Conditioning, Inc., for her tips, tricks, and hacks for putting together a balanced lunch—no matter what your cafeteria offers.
Strong, stable, sufficiently stretched quads are the secret ingredient to everything from straighter knees to fully extended arabesques. But what are the most effective ways to get them? Dance Spirit turned to Michael Gernold, a personal trainer with Progressive Personal Training in NYC, for a crash course on lengthening and strengthening your quads.
Knee pain is, unfortunately, just one of those things that happens when you're a dancer. But how can you be sure that an annoying pinch here or a crunch there isn't something more serious? Dance Spirit turned to Marijeanne Liederbach, PhD, PT, ATC, CSCS—who is also director of the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone, research assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine, and owner of PT Plus in NYC—for a crash course on knee problems.
Can my tampon get lost up there after one too many rehearsals? Should I skip cross-training in the pool during Aunt Flo's visit? Does missing a period mean I'm dangerously underweight? When it comes to menstruation, everybody has an opinion—but few have the facts. We asked the experts to debunk common myths about that time of the month, so you can get back to focusing on dance.
Sydney Magruder Washington (photo by Rachel Neville, courtesy Washington)
Twenty-five-year-old Sydney Magruder Washington had dreams of auditioning for ballet companies and Broadway shows when she moved to NYC four years ago, as a recent graduate of Skidmore College. But after completing an apprenticeship with Connecticut Ballet in 2015, her anxiety and depression became so severe that she could barely leave her apartment—let alone go to a dance class or audition. After working with a therapist and trying out new medications with a psychiatrist, she's finally starting to get her training and career back on track. And she's also realizing she was misdiagnosed for a decade. Here, she tells her story. —Courtney Bowers