Ever since starting her professional career, Broadway dancer Amber Ardolino has cupped. Using the holistic wellness practice to improve performance and take care of her body, Ardolino cupped before it was cool—even beating the 2016 Rio Olympics' purple polka-dotted athletes to the punch. But Ardolino's only one dancer who has put this therapy to regular use. Dance Spirit asked Carrie Gaerte, PT, DPT, ATC, and performance rehab specialist with St. Vincent Sports Performance who works with Indianapolis' Dance Kaleidoscope; and Thomas Droge, Chinese-medicine doctor and founder of Pathfinder Institute in NYC, to explain the ins and outs of cupping therapy.
If you haven't followed through on your New Year's resolution to practice more self-care, then Valentine's Day is the perfect time to start. Below, we rounded up the best ways to pamper, indulge, and heal everything from your muscles, to your skin, to your mind. Your body (and your dancing) will thank you.
Adrienne Gregorek working on physical therapy exercises with a patient (courtesy Gregorek)
When Adrienne Gregorek was 14, she injured her hamstring and was sent to physical therapy. "I was super frustrated," she remembers. "I went to a clinic where there were mostly older people being treated and felt like the staff didn't understand the needs of a dancer. When they were re-testing me at the end, they said, 'You're good,' even though I really wasn't where I needed to be for optimal strength and flexibility."
For many dancers looking for their next step beyond the stage, a career that continues to connect them to the art is a no-brainer. In Gregorek's case, her interest in the human body, coupled with her passion for dance, led her to a career in physical therapy and landed her a job at Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, where she treats dancers, including members of New York City Ballet and students at the School of American Ballet.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
One of the dancers at my studio is being bullied by some of the older girls. It's getting pretty bad, but I'm not sure what to do about it. Should I confront the bullies? Talk to my teacher? Stay out of it? What would be most helpful?
From competing on "So You Think You Can Dance" to performing on "Dancing with the Stars" for seven seasons (and earning an Emmy nomination for her work on the latter), Chelsie Hightower has lived the pro dance dream. Though Hightower retired from "DWTS" several years ago and now teaches and choreographs in her home state of Utah, she admits that her dance career exceeded even her own high expectations. "I've accomplished things that I didn't know were possible," she says.
But most fans of "DWTS" would never have guessed that while filming, the talented and seemingly fearless ballroom pro was facing her fiercest competitor off-camera. Hightower has struggled with anxiety for most of her life, but the issue became especially severe during her years on the show.
With the help of therapy and other coping exercises, Hightower has found healthy ways to manage her anxiety. Now, she hopes that sharing her experience will inspire other dancers struggling with mental illness to get help.
From biscuits to bananas, feet are the first thing dancers notice. They're great fodder for humorous Instas and can make for some mesmerizing lines. But on a more serious note, foot shape can impact you and your dancing in many ways. DS turned to the experts for insight into how everything from the length of your toes to the height of your arch can make a difference. So, put your feet up and read on to see what they have to say!
Yes, New Year's resolutions are still a thing! As obnoxious as it is to be constantly bombarded by "What's your New Year's resolution this year?," this goal-setting tradition can actually be the first step in making healthy changes that will help you improve as a dancer. But in order for those changes to occur you have to have a plan. That's where goal setting comes in. Well-thought-out goals will help set you up for success—so we've come up with a few ideas for you to adopt into your own list of of resolutions this year.
Whether you're prepping for an onstage performance or primping for rehearsal, dancers need makeup that'll last. But smudge-proof products guaranteed to get you through a day of dancing can be hard to come by. That's why Dance Spirit rounded up some of our favorite long-lasting beauty products that'll stay on your face long after you've left the dance floor!
There's a common misconception among dancers that lifting weights makes you bulky and should be avoided at all costs. But that couldn't be further from the truth, especially if you're trying to build strength in specific areas. Dance Spirit turned to Chelsey Wilkens, a personal trainer at SoHo Strength Lab in NYC, for her top muscle-makin' moves.
Photos by Jayme Thornton. Modeled by Gabrielle Kerr.
If you're battling aching muscles or pre-show nerves, a scented oil is probably the last thing you'd consider as a solution. Essential oils are more than just smells, though—these highly concentrated plant extracts have some serious healing powers. Sold online or over-the-counter at most health food stores, pure essential oils are completely natural and can be added to baths and lotions, or applied topically. Dance Spirit rounded up three specific scents that'll benefit your dancer bod.
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.
Did you know that, right now, there's a big party happening in your gastrointestinal tract, with billions of bacteria? It's known as your microbiome, and it's filled with both healthy and unhealthy bacteria, including probiotics—a healthy kind that can provide your dancer bod with a bevy of benefits. Dance Spirit turned to Tiffany Mendell, MS, RDN, CDN, of Lara Metz Nutrition in NYC, for a crash course on all things probiotic, and the best ways to incorporate them into your diet.
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.