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