Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!


Dear Katie,

I'm in recovery from a binge-eating disorder. While I'm doing much better than before, I'm still really insecure about my body, and am always comparing myself to others. How can I reset my perspective?

Alyson

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Dear Katie

As a dedicated dancer, you're probably pretty proud of the number of hours you spend in the studio. You may even feel guilty whenever you divert from your normal non-stop routine. But time spent outside the studio can actually be super beneficial for your dancing.

Here are seven non-dance activities that can help you become a better dancer.

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Health & Body
Photo by Erin Baiano

When it comes to injury-prone body parts, knees reign supreme for dancers. But a little strengthening can go a long way in preventing painful outcomes. We turned to Dirk Hartog, a physical therapist with Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, for three exercises that'll support and stabilize your knees.

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Fitness
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Dancers are naturally "in their heads" all the time—but not always in productive ways. Long days of receiving and applying corrections, taking class, and performing can get to even the most composed individuals. What should you do when you feel like your mind is just as busy as your rehearsal schedule? Try meditation. Dance Spirit turned to Adreanna Limbach, a head teacher at NYC-based meditation studio MNDFL, for a breakdown of this highly beneficial practice.

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Mind
Dancers celebrating National Dance Day (via Instagram)

Back in 2010, "So You Think You Can Dance" producer Nigel Lythgoe established National Dance Day, an annual celebration of all things dance and a fundraiser for the dance education nonprofit then known as the Dizzy Feet Foundation. Since then, NDD has become a phenomenon. Each year, dancers and dance fans have learned an official NDD routine, showed up in droves for high-profile NDD events at the Kennedy Center and Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and hosted countless NDD parties of their own—always on the last Saturday in July.

But there are big changes afoot (see what we did there?) this year. The 2019 celebration will jump forward a few months on the calendar, to Saturday, September 21st. And Dizzy Feet has undergone an evolution of its own, with a new focus on the health benefits of dance, a new collaboration with the American Heart Association, and a new name: American Dance Movement.

We caught up with Lythgoe to talk about the reasons for all the ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

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Dance News
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Chances are, you're regrettably familiar with those unpleasant pre-period symptoms known as premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. PMS is a sign of a healthy, functioning body, but it's still frustrating to deal with every month—especially during long Nationals rehearsals or summer intensive classes. Dance Spirit turned to Dr. Lauren Streicher, a gynecologist and clinical professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, for advice on all things PMS.

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Body Buzz
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Tackling an exercise regimen with focus and dedication can really pay off in your dance career, and there's a definite thrill associated with seeing your technique, strength, and stamina improve. But what happens when your drive morphs into something that's driving you? That's what exercise addiction feels like: a sense that you have to do more. "Exercise addiction controls you," says Diane Israel, a psychotherapist who specializes in body image and is an adjunct professor at Naropa University. Israel is also an exercise addiction survivor and a former world-class runner and triathlete. "It has a different quality than exercise that's joyful, and that you know is good for you," she says.

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Mind
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, MCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I'm 14 and have been studying ballet seriously for about three years. Even though I feel ready, my teachers haven't put me on pointe yet. Am I doing something wrong? Should I ask them about it, or is it pointe-less?

Leilani

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Dear Katie
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Samantha Figgins (Andrew Eccles)

Samantha Figgins is currently in her fifth season with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (and was a Dance Spirit cover girl back in 2013!). But what many people don't know is that the gorgeous dancer suffers from single-sided deafness. As a baby, Figgins contracted spinal meningitis, which caused her to lose all hearing in her right ear. She never gave up on her dance dreams, though, and fought her way through uncomfortable situations, never missing an opportunity to learn and grow. Now, after getting her first pair of hearing aids, she opens up about her path to success. —(As told to Courtney Celeste Spears)

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Off the Record
For the love of all that is beautiful, STOP before you pop! (Getty Images)

It's the day before your big recital and you've won the battle against your breakout—only to be left with the parting gift of unsightly dark marks in its place. While acne scarring can be challenging to treat, it's easy to prevent. Dance Spirit turned to Dr. Yunyoung Claire Chang, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in NYC, for advice on combatting this frustrating issue.

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Beauty
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

My teacher always tells me to "lift from underneath" during grands battements, but I don't really understand what she means. I'm overusing my hip flexors instead, and they've started popping. Help!

Ella

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Dear Katie
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I'm an injured ballet student, and my physical therapist and massage therapist are giving me opposite instructions. For example, my physical therapist believes that I should work through the "bad pain" and take three different kinds of exercise classes, but my massage therapist tells me that I shouldn't do anything that causes bad pain and only do one exercise class per week. Who should I listen to?

Rachel

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Dear Katie
Ballet Academy East student Stella MacDonald (Erin Baiano)

It's the rite of passage every young ballerina dreams of: getting her first pair of pointe shoes. But it's important to remember that a lot (and we mean a lot) of hard work and technique-honing leads up to this moment—not to mention getting the green light from your teacher. Dance Spirit turned to Jenna Lavin, former Miami City Ballet dancer and principal of the pre-professional division at Ballet Academy East in NYC, for three exercises meant to strengthen, train, and stabilize the muscles you'll be using once you're on pointe.

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Fitness
The keto food pyramid (Getty Images)

Boundless energy. A more "toned" feeling. Decreased inflammation. When Patricia Zhou (then dancing with the Staatsballett Berlin in Germany) heard a friend rave about the ketogenic diet's supposed effects over two years ago, she knew she had to give it a try. Zhou, who's now with L.A. Dance Project, stuck with the ultra-restrictive diet longer than most, but has since returned to eating normally. Why? And what can you learn from her experiences? DS spoke with Zhou and two nutritionists to find out.

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Nutrition
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It's safe to say that when it comes to "things dancers should always keep 100 percent in check," hydration reigns supreme. Not only is it key for staying energized, alert, and balanced—it can actually be dangerous to dance while dehydrated. Dance Spirit turned to Marie Scioscia, a registered dietitian with The Ailey School, and author of Eat Right Dance Right, for a hydration crash course, so you'll never be low on H2O.

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Health & Body

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