Health & Body
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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.

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Health & Body

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.

Photos by Erin Baiano. Modeled by Shannon Mcavoy.

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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.

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Health & Body

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.

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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

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Turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, and garlic: They're spice cabinet staples that double as performance-boosters. Dance Spirit turned to Emily Cook Harrison, a registered dietitian at Nutrition for Great Performances in Atlanta, GA, for a breakdown of their benefits, and the most effective ways to incorporate them into your diet.

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Health & Body

Every dancer has learned—probably the hard way—that healthy feet are the foundation of a productive and happy day in the studio. As dancers, our most important asset has to carry the weight (literally) of everything we do. So it's not surprising that most professional dancers have foot care down to an art.

Three dancers shared their foot-care products they can't live without.

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Photo by Lucas Chilczuk

Chances are, you've done planks, push-ups, squats, and crunches for so long, you could whip them out in your sleep. But there's a fine—and critical—line between executing these moves and executing them properly. Dance Spirit turned to Anna Acciarino, PT, DPT, ATC, from Manhattan Physio Group in NYC, for a breakdown of the subtle yet significant mistakes you might be making.

Photos by Lucas Chilczuk. Modeled by Brittany Shinay.

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Photo by Erin Baiano

We've all seen the videos on Instagram: a professional ballerina, casually perched atop a BOSU ball, développé-ing like it's no big deal. When done properly, BOSU ball exercises are both insanely impressive and incredibly effective for strengthening your core, ankles, and overall stability. Dance Spirit turned to Joel Prouty, a NYC-based personal trainer and injury prevention/exercise-conditioning specialist, for his top three BOSU ball moves, ranging from easy to hard.

Photos by Erin Baiano. Modeled by Lauren Post, dancer with American Ballet Theatre.

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Chances are, you've seen (and taken!) your fair share of face-mask selfies. But not all masks are created equal. Some might smooth your skin so your stage makeup looks #flawless; others might brighten it so you don't need as much makeup to begin with. Dance Spirit turned to the experts for a breakdown of the different kinds of masks.

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"Whole, low-fat, or skim?" The question of which milk to drink has gotten a little more complicated lately, with a wide variety of nondairy milks popping up in grocery stores. To find out which ones are worth your milk money, we had registered dietitian Monika Saigal answer some FAQs.

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Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

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 want to dance in a ballet company, but I'm insecure about my body. I'm not skinny, and I don't think I ever will be, because that's just not the way I'm built. Please be honest with me: If I don't have the traditional ballet body, do I have a future in professional ballet?

Lucy

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You already know the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the better. But did you know that the same goes for their colors? Those vibrant reds, greens, oranges (and everything in between) are pretty—and packed with tons of essential nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins that'll take your energy (and your dancing) to the next level. Dance Spirit turned to Marie Scioscia, a registered dietitian with The Ailey School, for a breakdown on each color and its specific benefits.

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You turned out the light hours ago, but you're still tossing and turning in bed. Every time you're about to doze off, the corrections you got in class today pop into your mind—and just like that, you're wide awake again.

If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, and you often wake up feeling less than refreshed, you may have insomnia. And the reasons are often connected to your mental and emotional well-being, which means there are few quick fixes. But there are some things you can do to get the rest you need to dance your best.

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Toenail trials and tribulations just come with the territory when you're a dancer. They can range from slightly annoying to super-painful, and it's crucial to address them immediately. Dance Spirit turned to Dr. Bryan Hersh, DPM, for a breakdown of the most common toenail woes and the most effective ways to treat them.

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Health & Body
Photo by Jayme Thornton

If you're one of the lucky dancers #blessed with hyperextended knees, you know that while they're super-pretty to look at, they're also super-prone to injury. Dance Spirit asked Sean P. Gallagher, BFA, PT, CFT, CPT, MS, and founder of Performing Arts Physical Therapy in NYC, about the most effective strengthening moves for hyperextension.

Photos by Jayme Thornton. Modeled by Sarah Meahl.

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