Eating on Tour: The Biggest Challenges, Solved
As much as dancers might love touring, the road can be a tough place to get the nutrition you need. "A lot of things are out of your control on tour—you won't be able to eat the way you do at home," says Heidi Skolnik, a certified dietitian nutritionist who has worked with dancers at the School of American Ballet. But preparing for common challenges can help you keep up some semblance of your normal routine.
CHALLENGE: Your travel schedule doesn't match up with meal times.
If you don't know when the next rest stop will be, pack foods that will travel well. "Bring tuna in a pouch, nuts, peanut butter and crackers, carrot sticks, or even yogurt, cheese sticks and hard-boiled eggs in an insulated lunch bag," suggests Skolnik. You can stock up on most of these items in gas stations and airports in the U.S.
CHALLENGE: Lots of downtime means lots of opportunities to snack.
A common slip-up is skipping meals and then munching on chips because you're hungry and bored. "If you opted for a large coffee Coolatta instead of a hamburger because you thought it was the lighter choice, you've actually self-sabotaged," setting yourself up for cravings later, says Skolnik. Fill up on good stuff when you can, buy healthy snacks and limit hard-to-resist foods. "If you're just snacking mindlessly, find something else to fill your time," says Emily C. Harrison, founder of Dancer Nutrition. Knit, draw, take photos, write in a journal or get into a new Netflix series.
Quinn Wharton for Pointe
CHALLENGE: Not enough time to find something healthy.
You might tumble off the bus and go straight into rehearsal, so Harrison suggests carrying energy bars with you. "The best options have less than 15 grams of natural sugar from dates or other dried fruit," she says. And don't forget to stay hydrated. "Twitchy muscles, fatigue and poor balance are symptoms of dehydration—buy a Gatorade, or keep electrolyte drink mixes stashed in your bag."
CHALLENGE: Limited options.
On a bus tour that features a lot of Taco Bells and Bob Evans, don't overlook coffee shops and grocery stores. "Even rest areas and fast-food chains now offer some healthy options," says Skolnik. It doesn't have to be salad—get a slice of pizza with veggies on it or a burger with lettuce and tomato. When the rest of the cast wants to hit Taco Bell (again), you could run over to the grocery store to grab prepared foods, like a rotisserie chicken, fruit cups, or whole-grain bread and peanut butter .
CHALLENGE: Opportunities to cook are rare.
If you can, travel with a Crock-Pot, suggests Skolnik. You can prep slow-cooker meals ahead of time and feast on them for a few days, as long as you have access to a refrigerator.
CHALLENGE: Food overseas can sometimes cause stomach issues.
To avoid food poisoning, don't eat raw or undercooked meat and eggs, or unpasteurized dairy. If the water is unsafe to drink, peel any raw fruits and veggies yourself, and wash them with bottled or disinfected water. If you have serious food allergies, print out a "chef card" from safefare.org to communicate your allergy in the language of the country you're visiting.
CHALLENGE: Nothing's open after the show.
A lot of eating well is simply time management, says Skolnik. "Think ahead—it shouldn't be a surprise every night that you'll need to find food after the show." Bring a snack, like a 120-calorie yogurt, to eat right after the show, and have something else waiting back in your hotel room. Have a heartier meal at lunch when restaurants are open, so dinner can be light: a salad you bought earlier, an omelet from room service or something that's heat-and-eat. Harrison likes Dr. McDougall's Right Foods soup cups, which have ingredients like lentils, quinoa, sweet potatoes and kale. "Even if you only have oatmeal and almond butter," she says, "at least you're satiated."
Quinn Wharton for Pointe
When London-based perfume company The Beautiful Mind Series was looking for a collaborator for their next scent, they skipped the usual celebrity set and brought in prima ballerina Polina Semionova instead. "I was fascinated by what goes on in the mind of a great dancer," perfumer Geza Schoen said in a press release. Semionova's ballet-inspired scent, Precision & Grace, celebrates the intelligence and beauty behind her craft.
Courtesy of The Beautiful Mind Series
The ever-so-busy Kyle Abraham is back in New York City for a brief visit with his company Abraham.In.Motion as they prepare for an exciting spring season of new endeavors with some surprising guests. The company will be debuting a new program at The Joyce Theater on May 1, that will include two new pieces from Abraham, restaged works by Doug Varone and Bebe Miller, and a world premiere from Andrea Miller. Talk about an exciting line-up!
We caught up with Abraham during a recent rehearsal where he revealed what he is tired of hearing in the dance community.
Growing up in inner city Rochester, NY, Aesha Ash was just one of the neighborhood kids. She'd imagine people driving by, judging her by her black skin.
"They'd never know that I was dreaming of becoming a professional ballet dancer. No one would think, Some day she's going to make it into New York City Ballet," says Ash.
After an inspiring career at NYCB, Béjart's Ballet Lausanne and LINES, the January 2006 Dance Magazine cover star—one of our 25 to Watch that year—is no longer performing. But she's determined to use her dance background to change the stereotypes and misconceptions that people—including black people—have about women of color. "I want to show it's okay to embrace our softer side, and let the world know we're multidimensional," says Ash.
Aesha Ash in Richmond, CA. PC Renee Scott via swandreamsproject.org
In 2011, she launched the Swan Dreams Project to inspire kids in the community she grew up in. The original idea was to post images of herself in a tutu all over Rochester. "I remember growing up and in the bodega you'd see images of girls in bikinis on motorbikes," says Ash. "I wanted to replace those with photos that show women of color in a different light."
She knew the power imagery can have: She still remembers what it felt like as a student at the School of American Ballet to see a photo of black ballet dancer Andrea Long. "That image was everything on days when I was feeling disenchanted. I'd see that picture of her, and know that the struggles I was going through, she went through them, too."
Ash soon realized she didn't have the budget to fund her original plan ("I never realized how expensive a bus stop advertisement is!"). But she's made the images available through an online store, and often simply gives away prints at her own expense to schools and students in need of some inspiration.
Any proceeds she makes from the sales go directly to other organizations that are working to expand ballet in diverse communities. One large donation even led to a pointe shoe fund at dancer Robyn Gardenhire's City Ballet of Los Angeles school—and it helped one dancer who had quit ballet because of the expense come back to class.
Now a mother of two in San Jose, CA, Ash will also start teaching a free after-school ballet class at her daughter's public school next month. "I recently taught at Girls Inc. in Oakland, and one of the little black girls said, 'Are you the ballet teacher?' She just stood there, staring at me with her mouth open, like a unicorn had just walked into the room," Ash says. "You never know the impact you can have just by being a presence."
Ever find yourself lusting after that six o'clock penché, or a développé that will reach your nose? You're not alone. The eye is naturally drawn to the end points of a movement, and, in dance, that often translates to the highest extension.
But what if you're born without extreme, Instagram-worthy lines? It's a matter of developing a laser focus on alignment as well as strengthening and stretching with better body mechanics in mind.
Choreographer Tero Saarinen has a proclivity for the peculiar—and for epic orchestral music. That he should be commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to create a new dance work to accompany the U.S. premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann's Cello Concerto en forme de pas de trois only makes sense. Zimmermann's eerie, difficult-to-classify composition falls squarely in Saarinen's wheelhouse. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Jan. 19–21. laphil.com.
Two competition routines are equal in technical proficiency, artistry and choreography. One consists of all girls, the other includes a boy. Guess which takes home first prize?
If you guessed the one with the boy, you may be privy to an unspoken and much-debated phenomenon in the competition dance world: The Boy Factor. According to The Boy Factor, a competitive piece is more likely to win if there's a boy in it.
"If it's all technically equal and one group is all girls and the other group has a boy, the one with the boy will win," says Rysa Childress, owner of All Star Studios in Forest Hills, New York. "Boy soloists are sometimes scored higher than more technically proficient girls because if a boy has good stage presence, we let him slide," says an anonymous competition judge. "And most of the feedback will be for the boy."
I'll never forget something Roberto Bolle once told me when I was interviewing him about his workout regimen: Talking about how much he loved to swim, he said, "I would love to go in the Italian sea, but I am too well-known there to show up in my suit."
It always amused and kinda shocked me that a ballet dancer could reach that level of fame. But it's true: In his native Italy, Bolle is a bonafide celerity.
Everyone knows that community college is an affordable option if a four-year school isn't in the cards. But it can also be a solid foundation for a career in the dance field. Whether students want an associate in arts degree as a precursor to obtaining a bachelor's, or to go straight into the performing world, the right two-year dance program can be a uniquely supportive place to train. Don't let negative stereotypes prevent you from attending a program that could be right for you:
Conscientious theatergoers may be familiar with The School for Scandal, The School for Wives and School of Rock. But how many are also aware of the school of Fosse?
The 1999 musical, a posthumous exploration of the choreographic career of Bob Fosse, ran for 1,093 performances, winning four Tonys and 10 nominations; employing 32 dancers; and, completely unintentionally, nurturing a generation of Broadway choreographers. You may have heard of them: Andy Blankenbuehler and Sergio Trujillo danced in the original cast, Josh Rhodes was a swing, and Christopher Gattelli replaced Trujillo when he landed choreography jobs in Massachusetts and Canada. Blankenbuehler remembers that when Trujillo left, "It was as if he was graduating."
January 16 might as well be a Broadway holiday. Three gigantic names were born on this day, in 1908, 1950 and 1980, and they represent three distinct eras of powerhouse musicals. Without them, there'd be no belting Reno Sweeney, no "Fame"-ous Lydia Grant and no rapping Alexander Hamilton. Happy birthday to these indelible superstars.