How To
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Picture this: You're in rehearsal, and you finally get a move the way the choreographer wants it—except that it makes your back twinge each time. Should you say you're in pain, or should you suck it up and keep going? You don't want to injure yourself, but you also don't want to jeopardize your role.

The dance world often teaches students to be quiet and obedient around authority figures. That said, there are definitely instances when you need to speak your mind. Try these tips to navigate sticky situations.

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How To
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Because they're the one part of college applications you don't do yourself, teacher recommendations can feel like big, scary question marks. As Sarah Langford, college counselor at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, says, "When admissions chooses between equally talented candidates, a memorable letter can put you in the 'yes' pile." But take heart: You have more control over what ends up in these letters than you might realize. Here, Langford and Sarah Lovely, director of college counseling at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, spill the secrets to ensuring you'll get letters that'll help launch you into the dance department of your dreams.

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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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How To
(From left) Misty Copeland, Ebony Williams, and Ashley Murphy in pancaked shoes (photo by Nathan Sayers)

No two pairs of pointe shoes are the same, from their shanks to their boxes, their color to their shine. To make an array of shoes more uniform or to get them to a shade closer to your skin tone, dance teachers might ask that you "pancake" your pointe shoes before going onstage. But what does that entail, exactly? We're here to show you.

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Dancer to Dancer
USC Kaufman Students in Class (courtesy Glorya Kaufman School of Dance At University of Southern California)

You can still dance at a high level while attending a school that has no dance department. Just ask these two recent grads—their post-college careers bloomed because they took charge of their dance education.

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How To
Ballet Austin summer intensive students with associate artistic director, Michelle Martin (Anne Marie Bloodgood, courtesy Ballet Austin)

You're in a studio that's not your own, surrounded by dancers you don't know. You're excited and nervous, all at the same time. It's the first day of your summer intensive, and you're eager to make a good impression. But how? We asked the experts for advice.

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How To
Photo by NYC & Company, courtesy Kate Glicksberg

There's a reason (or a million reasons) so many young dancers set their sights on the city that never sleeps: NYC is an artists' haven, with opportunities to create and grow everywhere you look. But pursuing a dance career in NYC can also be downright expensive, and a steady company paycheck is basically a unicorn. "I really wish I'd sat down and mapped out all the expenses before making the big move," says NYC freelancer Krissy Harris. "After about a year or so, I got in the swing of things. But it was a process!" Here's advice from Harris and four other New York dance pros on how to survive the grind.

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How To
Choreographic partners Audrey Lane Ellis (right) and Sarah Capua of a+s works (courtesy a+s works)

Choreographing a dance means standing alone at the front of the studio…right? Not necessarily! Many choreographers prefer making work with a partner. Two heads can definitely be better than one, but creating collaboratively does come with some strings attached. Whether you're working in a duo or group by choice or you've been assigned to develop a piece with someone else, try these tips to foster a positive process.

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Dancer to Dancer
Oregon Ballet Theatre's Jacquline Straughan (with Brian Simcoe) showing off her beautiful epaulment in Swan Lake (photo by Jingzi, courtesy Oregon Ballet Theatre)

It's in Odette's gracefully arched neck, the Lilac Fairy's regal bearing, even a contemporary dancer's extreme lines. The "it" in question? Épaulement—the nuanced positioning of the head, shoulders, and neck. Using your épaulement (which translates, literally, as "shouldering") does more than make your dancing prettier: It makes it better, richer, and more artistic. But achieving effortless épaulement is easier said than done, especially since technique classes tend to focus on the legs and feet.

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How To
Gonzalo Garcia and Sterling Hyltin showing off some pristine partnering in George Balanchine's Vienna Waltzes (Paul Kolnik, courtesy New York City Ballet)

A pas de deux can be one of the most mesmerizing parts of a ballet. But a lot goes into a beautiful duet—and getting tricky partnering right takes tons of practice and training.

Struggling with pas de deux? Jared Nelson, Associate Artistic Director of the California Ballet Company, gave us 10 tips that all dancers can benefit from.

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Dance Fashion

Bored with buns? We broke down the basics of three classic, class-perfect braids.

Modeled by Haley Hilton

Photography by Jayme Thornton

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Dancer to Dancer
Presenting awards at Showstopper Nationals in 2017 (photo by Aaron Williams, courtesy Showstopper)

Competition award ceremonies represent the culmination of months of preparation. It's no wonder dancers feel the pressure! But the truth is, most of us won't come away with the grand prize. How do you prepare yourself for the results, whatever they may be? DS spoke with teachers and comp judges on how to cope at different stages of the competition—and to use any disappointment to your advantage.

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How To
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Thinking about declaring a dance major? We had professors discuss all the factors you should consider before submitting that major-declaration form.

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How To
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The high-flying leaps of grand allegro are meant to be incredibly exciting. But at the end of an intense ballet class, when you're exhausted, it can be hard to give them the attention they deserve. Want to pump up your big jumps? Follow these 10 vital tips from Jennifer Hart, curriculum director and instructor at Ballet Austin.

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Health & Body
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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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Dancer to Dancer
ABT JKO School student Miuka Kadoi shoiwng off her beautiful line (photo by Kenneth Edwards)

Contemporary phenom Christina Ricucci has super-flexible hips, which means she can stretch her legs to unbelievable heights. But when she noticed herself making contorted positions in class, Ricucci realized she was approaching her extensions all wrong. "I went back to the basics in class, squaring my hips and using my turnout," Ricucci says. "I learned to create proper positions, rather than whacked-out versions of them."

Some dancers are so wonky they have a hard time supporting their high legs, while others struggle with limited flexibility. But no matter your facility, you can find a balance of stretch and strength to achieve your fullest range of extension. It's not about how high (or not) your legs can go: It's the quality of the movement, and how you get those legs up, that counts.

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