Ashley Murphy-Wilson's Dancer-Approved Southern-Style Meal Prep
While Ashley Murphy-Wilson was growing up, her grandmother, Ella Bowers, owned a restaurant in their hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, and taught The Washington Ballet dancer how to cook. "She's still teaching me!" Murphy-Wilson says with a laugh. Big family meals were Southern soul food and pure decadence: fried chicken, fried fish, collard greens, sweet potato pies and all kinds of cakes and casseroles.
She spoke with Dance Magazine about how she incorporates those traditions into her own kitchen today while still fueling a healthy dancer lifestyle.
Her Healthy Swaps for Southern Comfort Food
Murphy-Wilson still enjoys making indulgent Southern dishes. But she typically opts for healthy swaps. For example, instead of boiling the nutrients out of collard greens and adding bacon fat for flavor, she'll sauté them with olive oil, salt, garlic and red pepper.
Her Meal Prep Plan
She usually cooks three to four recipes every weekend to rotate for dinners and lunches throughout the week—typically a fish, a chicken and a red meat (for the iron), with accompanying veggies and starch, like quinoa or sweet potatoes.
Her Splurge Philosophy
Sometimes dinner a splurge, like a gooey, cheesy casserole. "It's okay to have that stuff every now and then," Murphy-Wilson says. "You just can't eat like that every day and expect it not to take a toll."
Her Favorite Hack for Busy Weeks
During busy six- to seven-day theater weeks, Murphy-Wilson's a big fan of the meal-box delivery service Blue Apron. Each dish takes about 20 minutes, and you can get six meals (three recipes, two portions each) for around $60. Plus, Murphy-Wilson says, the ingredients help her experiment with new flavors.
Her Favorite Injury-Healing Ingredient
"Every time I'm coming back from an injury I try to learn more about what I'm putting into my body to help me recover," says Murphy-Wilson. A favorite healing ingredient? Turmeric. She'll use the powder in teas and rubs to reduce inflammation. "I prefer to do something like that instead of taking Advil every single day."
Her Lemon Turmeric Salmon Recipe
"There are so many different ways to cook salmon, so I never get tired of it," Murphy-Wilson says. This recipe's protein and healthy fats coupled with turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties make a powerful combination—and nearly a week's worth of nutritious lunches.
- 1/2 cup very cold or frozen salted butter, plus more for greasing pan
- 4 fresh, skin-on salmon fillets, cut about 1 1/2 inches thick
- 1 tbsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 large lemon
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and butter the bottom of a baking sheet.
- Rinse the salmon, pat dry and place skin-side down on the sheet.
- In a small dish, mix the thyme, turmeric and salt. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the top of the fillets.
- Slice the lemon into 4 thin rounds, remove the seeds, then halve the rounds.
- Top each fillet with two lemon slice halves, then grate the cold butter evenly over the top of the fillets.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. (Cut into center to check doneness.)
- Remove from the oven, uncover, spoon the butter sauce from the pan over the fish and serve.
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.
A recent trip I took to Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
Despite what you might think, there's no reason for dancers to be afraid of bread.
"It's looked at as this evil food," says New York State–certified dietitian and former dancer Tiffany Mendell. But the truth is, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, bread can be a healthy source of carbohydrates—our body's preferred fuel—plus fiber and vitamins.
The key is choosing your loaf wisely.