Dancer to Dancer
DeBona in Rite of Spring (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)

Ballet West's Allison DeBona first became a major figure on the pop-culture scene with her stint on The CW series “Breaking Pointe." Her ethereal grace and commanding stage presence have kept her there since. DeBona trained with the Parou Ballet Company (now New Castle Regional Ballet) in New Castle, PA, and the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet while growing up. She later attended Indiana University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in ballet before joining Ballet West in 2007. In 2011 she was promoted to demi-soloist, was given the soloist title in 2013 and, finally, was named first soloist in 2015. Catch her next month in the company's production of Madame Butterfly, and read on for The Dirt!

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Health & Body

B.O. got you down? Don’t sweat it! These three DS-approved deodorants will help you fight the stench during summer studio sessions.

(L to R: courtesy Secret, by Magone/
Thinkstock, courtesy Kiehl's)

Best Clinical Strength:

Secret Clinical Strength Invisible Solid

Why we love it:

•    Close to prescription strength, so it’s ideal for heavy sweaters

•    Combats stress sweat, which has a stronger smell than normal sweat

•    Moisturizers make it less irritating than other clinical-strength deodorants.

•    Invisible solid formula = no white marks on your leotards

Best "Sport" Deodorant:

Degree motionSENSE Invisible Solid

Why we love it:

•    48-hour protection

•    Fragrance capsules are motion-activated, so the more you move, the harder it works.

•    Highest wetness protection of any non–clinical-strength antiperspirant

Best for Sensitive Skin:

Kiehl’s Superbly Efficient Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant

Why we love it:

•    Very gentle on skin

•    Unscented

•    Softens underarm hair, making it easier to shave

•    The cream formula is less likely to stain your clothes.

•    Orange, lemon and linseed extracts combat inflammation and irritation.

Apply antiperspirant before you go to bed. You sweat less at night, giving deodorant time to sink in and form a protective barrier for the next day.


(Photos by Think Stock, top to bottom: Magone, Juri Samsonov, Simon Denson, Maria17, Leslie Banks)

Snack Away Stress

You’re studying for finals, prepping for the end-of-the-year recital and packing for your summer intensive—you’re stressed! While drowning your feelings in candy and potato chips may provide temporary relief, it’ll eventually leave you feeling sluggish. But smart and healthy snacking can help you calm down and focus in stressful situations. Try these five stress-fighting snacks.

  • Oatmeal and other complex carbs provide a steady supply of serotonin (“the happy chemical”) to the brain.

  • Milk and other calcium-rich foods help relax muscles and lower blood pressure.

  • Avocado and other foods high in potassium help lower blood pressure.

  • Dark chocolate’s antioxidants decrease levels of stress hormones and may prevent headaches and fatigue.

  • Crunchy raw veggies help relieve tension in your jaw and face muscles as you chew.




Did You Know?

Getting excited is a great way to overcome stage fright. Researchers at Harvard Business School found individuals who reframed their anxiousness as excitement performed better than those who just tried to calm down. So next time you feel those pre-show jitters, grab your friends in the wings and get hyped!

Say No to Sunburn!

Look for sunscreen with a label offering “broad-spectrum coverage,” and be sure to let it sink in for 30 to 60 minutes before hitting the beach.

Health & Body


You feel:

Pain along the back of your thigh when stretching your port de bras forward and contracting to come back up. You might also experience swelling (like a knot the size of a golf ball or baseball) and tenderness. In severe cases, there may be bruising.

Try This:

The first 2–3 days, ice your hamstring for 15–20 minutes every 2–3 hours.

On the third day, begin lightly massaging your hamstring with your hands or use a foam roller to relax the muscle.

After the third day, begin contrasts—soak your muscle in a warm tub for 20 minutes, then ice for 10 minutes and repeat. This will increase circulation to help the injury heal more quickly.

Rest. If you only experience pain with extreme range of motion—like when you battement—just modify the exercises during class to avoid any extremes. But if you feel pain when walking, sitting or climbing stairs, take a few days off.

Apply a topical gel like arnica cream to help reduce swelling and speed up healing.

Ask your physical therapist to tape your hamstring with Kinesio tape to help support the muscle. If you don’t have access to a physical therapist, wrap the muscle diagonally with an ACE bandage or wear a compression sleeve over your hamstring.

Your hamstring will feel tight, so you’ll want to try to stretch it out. Don’t do it! Stretching the injured muscle will only put more strain on the fibers.

It’s time to see a doctor if you have bruising, your skin feels hot to the touch or you can’t put any weight on your injured leg.

Consultant: Michelle Rodriguez, MPT, OCS, CMPT, is the founder and director of Manhattan Physio Group and has worked with dancers from New York City Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and more.

Back to School Stress Relievers

Dr. Linda Hamilton, clinical psychologist and wellness consultant for New York City Ballet, shares three simple stress busters that will help you sail through the school day and rehearsal.

Pace yourself. You need to get back into dancing shape slowly. At the start of the school year, cross-train with Pilates or Gyrotonic and don’t overdo anything—it’s an easy way to get injured. Take class seriously, but listen to your body.

Take five deep, slow breaths. Your breathing tends to get shallow when you’re tense. Breathing deeply can counteract that immediate fight-or-flight response you feel when you’re stressed.

Use positive self-talk. At the end of each day, it’s useful to make a list of three things you did right instead of obsessing about what you did wrong. You don’t need to be overly critical of yourself to improve.

Did You Know?

High temperatures can cause medications such as aspirin to change chemically and become less effective or even dangerous. Make sure to store yours in a cool, dry place.


Get yourself to the ballet ASAP for health and happiness! Researchers in Italy asked stroke survivors if they liked music, painting or theater, and investigated their quality of life. Those who said they enjoyed art were happier, healthier and more energetic than those who said they did not, and they recovered better. According to the study, experiencing art may make long-term changes in your brain, which could help

it recover from trauma in the future. —Gretchen Schmid

Your parents were right when they told you to eat your broccoli! Not only is it packed with vitamins, it also contains sulforaphane, a compound that can help prevent cancer.

Health & Body

You’ve got a huge exam and a 20-page research paper due this week, and your ballet teacher has added extra rehearsals for your upcoming performance. You can’t sleep, you snap at your parents whenever they talk to you, and you feel like crying when your teacher comments on your sickled foot in jazz class. To say you’re stressed would be an understatement.

People experience stress in a variety of ways. You may have tense muscles, difficulty sleeping and shortness of breath, or you might be irritable and unable to concentrate. You might even find yourself avoiding the things causing your stress—for instance, skipping class or rehearsals. You may also experience low self-esteem and irrational thoughts, such as thinking that one bad class means you’ll never be a professional dancer. These symptoms are bad enough in the short term, but over time, they can lead to injuries, illness and the desire to quit dancing entirely.

Luckily, you don’t have to let stress run your life. Here are five ways to manage your stress so that you can hit the studio and stage feeling calm and focused.

Focus on the Things You Control

“We all have a ‘circle of influence’ that contains things that we can control,” says Dr. Peter Lovatt, director of the Dance Psychology Lab at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. “There’s little point in being stressed about things outside your circle of influence.” Lovatt says that mastering a double pirouette is something you can accomplish by learning the proper technique and practicing. On the other hand, “you have no control over whether there will be a vacancy in a particular dance company for you,” he says. Worrying about things you can’t change is counterproductive because you decrease the time and energy available for things you can.

Break the Cycle

Stress symptoms are often interrelated. “When we’re stressed, we lose some of the awareness of and control over our muscles, which can make us question our competence and become upset,” Dr. Lovatt explains. This physical symptom and emotional response can make you feel even more stressed, creating a vicious cycle. When you catch yourself spiraling downward, slow down. Identify how your stress manifests (for example, muscle tension and irritability, followed by trouble breathing). When you notice those symptoms, make a conscious decision to relax before things get worse.

Dance for Yourself

“It’s great for dancers to be able to move for self expression with no audience,” says Sara T. Workeneh, MA, ADTR, NCC, a registered dance/movement therapist and counselor who also teaches at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. “Move alone in the dark. Do Qigong [a Chinese practice involving breath, movement and energy] or yoga.” Moving without the pressure of having to do it “right” can remind you of your love for dance and help you express emotions you might be unable to articulate in words.

Rest and Recover

“Apply yourself in activities that are different from dance that will allow your body to relax while it’s engaged, such as swimming or hiking,” Workeneh says. However, be wary of jumping headfirst into a new form of physical activity when you’re already stressed. Instead, practice your non-dance exercise of choice once a week to prevent stress. If you can, work outside. “Outside contact, feeling the earth under your feet and breathing fresh air, is important to feeling and being grounded,” she says. “It impacts one’s ability to have clarity of mind.”

Focus on the Present

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, give your full attention to a single task. For dancers, that means focusing on the specific dance class you’re in, one exercise at a time. “Don’t worry about what will happen in the performance next week, or how you did in class yesterday,” Lovatt says. “The more you can relax and focus, the more control you will have over your body and mind.”

Health & Body

Costumes, makeup, stress: Rehearsals for your year-end recital are in full swing, and sometimes it can seem like too much to handle. Don’t fret! Here’s everything you need to know to have a super-successful show.

Fuel Your Bod

Not quite sure what you need to keep yourself going the day of a performance? Follow this food timeline to make sure your muscles (and your mind!) get the nourishment they need to keep kicking through the last 8-count of the night.

Breakfast: Eat within one hour of waking, combining complex carbs like whole-grain cereals, waffles or toast with protein like yogurt, peanut butter or a glass of low-fat milk.

Lunch: Continue with the carb/protein combo, but add some healthy fats, like nuts or olive oil, to power your muscles and give you lasting energy. A turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with a side salad or a cup of vegetable soup is an ideal afternoon meal.

Dinner: The amount and type of foods you should eat depend on how many hours you have to digest.

3–4 hours before showtime: Choose a larger meal consisting of carbs like rice, pasta or red potatoes with a small portion (about 4 ounces for girls and up to 8 ounces for guys) of protein like baked chicken or grilled fish. Add some cooked veggies tossed with a touch of olive oil as a side dish.


2–3 hours before showtime: Eat a small meal, like two or three slices of turkey or chicken with some whole-wheat crackers and a cup of juice. Other suitable options are string cheese with a handful of baby carrots and some crackers, or some cottage cheese with a few slices of pineapple or peaches.

1 hour before showtime: This close to curtain, you should only drink liquids, which are digested easily. Make a smoothie with one cup of low-fat yogurt, a banana and some juice.

Snacks: You may need a snack or two to get you through the day, but instead of reaching for a candy bar, try these healthy, power-packed options:

• an avocado wedge wrapped in a slice of turkey

• one-half cup of Greek yogurt with a handful of berries

• a hard-boiled egg with a few baby carrots

• a handful of raisins and mixed nuts

*Never try something new (like hot chili sauce) on the day of your performance. Stick with foods you know won’t upset your stomach.

Did You Know?

If you don’t wash your costumes between performances, you run the risk of developing some pretty nasty problems, like urinary tract and yeast infections. Yikes! Hand-wash delicate costumes in a basin filled with warm water and a mild soap, like Forever New, and hang dry. If you have any questions or concerns about costume care, talk to your teacher or wardrobe supervisor.

Stressed out? Loosen your rhinestone choker, close your eyes and visualize a calm, peaceful place. Think about the sights, sounds and smells. Take a deep breath and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to rock.

Health & Body

Power Breakfast Recipes

School is back in session, and your alarm is going off earlier while rehearsals and homework are keeping you up later. As tempting as it may be to hit the snooze button in the morning, it’ll be worth your while to use those extra five minutes to fuel up with the most important meal of the day. Start your morning with one of these quick and easy breakfast ideas. Chock-full of protein and low in fat, these healthy and satisfying recipes will give you the energy you need to get you through to your last class.


Top two whole-wheat waffles with one cup of low-fat Greek yogurt and sliced berries. We love Kellogg’s Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole-Wheat Waffles because they toast quickly and are super yummy.


Blend a large frozen banana, one-half cup of low-fat Greek yogurt, one-half cup of skim milk, a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter and a

tablespoon of chocolate syrup.

Tip: When your bananas begin to turn brown, peel them, cut them into quarters and freeze them in a plastic bag. They’ll keep for up to two months.

Egg Sandwich

Top a whole-wheat English muffin with a large scrambled egg, three slices of a Granny Smith apple and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese.

Tip: For an extra-quick scramble, crack an egg into a mug, beat with a fork and microwave for about 45 seconds until set.

Yogurt Bowl

Mix one cup of low-fat yogurt with berries and one-half cup of a cereal high in fiber and protein, then drizzle with honey. Try Kashi’s GOLEAN Crisp! Toasted Berry Crumble.


Stressed? Call Mom!

We all know the feeling: You’ve been cut at an audition and are devastated—until you hug your mom. Suddenly, you feel much better! But what happens when your mom’s not around? According to a recent study by Seth D. Pollak, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chatting on the phone with your mom can give you the same comfort as her real-life embrace. So the next time you’re feeling stressed or down in the dumps, phone home.


Hush Your Hiccups

There’s nothing worse than getting the hiccups during a performance. But how do you get rid of them? Try this method by Luc Morris, MD, and colleagues at New York University School of Medicine: Breathe in as deeply as you can and hold it for 10 seconds. Then, without exhaling, breathe in for five more seconds. This will restrict your diaphragm and stop the spasms. Goodbye hiccups!

Did You Know?

A new study conducted at the University of Georgia found that consuming ginger every day could have anti-inflammatory effects, reducing muscle pain caused by strenuous physical activity. Up your daily dose by treating yourself to a cup of ginger tea or adding some fresh ginger to your stir-fry.

Quick Tip: A new study from the University of Essex says that exercising outdoors for just five minutes a day can boost your mental health. So instead of hitting the gym, go for a jog in the park—you’ll feel great inside and out!


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