The boutique fitness craze has swept cities and Instagram accounts. Though you may not be interested in underwater cycling or trampoline yoga, some of these trendy classes have major benefits as cross-training. Use these pro tips to make sure your approach will pay off in the studio.


Barre

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Who should do it: The purpose of cross-training is to challenge your body in new ways. So a barre class—which is loosely modeled on a ballet barre—wouldn't make sense for someone taking ballet regularly, but it might be perfect for a tap or jazz dancer, or a ballet dancer during layoff, says Megan Richardson, an athletic trainer at The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Health.

Pro tips: Barre classes often use a different range of motion than ballet classes, so take the opportunity to develop other muscles, says Alicia Ferriere, DPT, of Finish Line Physical Therapy. Let up if anything feels like it's pinching.

Boxing

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Who should do it: Anyone who wants to build upper-extremity stability, says Richardson. You'll learn to use muscles in a quick, forceful way, and work on functional core strength.

Pro tips: Make sure you're in control of your mobility. Because dancers tend to have flexible shoulders, your instructor should show you how to work from your shoulder, back and core muscles, not your joints, says Richardson. Try a private session or a small class for your first time, and avoid classes where you fight other students directly.

Spinning

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Who should do it: Dancers working on building stamina—especially for short, powerful bursts like petit allégro.

Pro tips: Look for studios with bikes that allow your shoes to clip in. According to Richardson, having your foot secured to the pedal will help you activate your hamstrings, rather than just your quads. Sit back on the widest part of the saddle and make sure your seat is at the correct height—if your knees are coming up too far, your hip flexors will take over. Many studios use metrics that allow you to compete against classmates—just make sure this doesn't push you to overdo it.

Crossfit-Style Workouts

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Who should do it: Richardson suggests these classes for dancers looking to build partnering strength, since you often learn how to lift overhead properly.

Pro tips: When done with poor form, maxing out on weight and repetitions and locking into hyperextended joints can put you at risk for ligament injury. Ferriere recommends taking classes taught at a slower pace and using lighter weights when learning new movements.

Rowing

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Who should do it: Dancers looking to build cardio, improve back strength and work upper-body muscles they normally wouldn't activate.

Pro tips: There's a risk for lower back and neck injury, says Ferriere, so be sure your legs are doing the work and that you're pushing through your heels. Don't flex too far forward—it shouldn't feel like a hamstring stretch—and stay neutral in your pelvis. Take a beginner class your first time to learn the fundamentals.

Pilates Fusion

Nathan Sayers

Who should do it: Anyone looking to build core strength, and to find length and strength in more challenging positions. Richardson calls classes like SLT (Strengthen Lengthen Tone) and ChaiseFitness "Pilates on steroids," since they incorporate machinery to intensify classic Pilates exercises.

Pro tips: "The person who is instructing you really needs to be savvy about where you need to be activating," says Richardson. "You need to be using the deep core muscles that are often weak in dancers."

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Brandt in Giselle. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

Skylar Brandt's Taste in Music Is as Delightful as Her Dancing

American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt's dancing is clean, precise and streamlined. It's surprising, then, to learn that her taste in music is "all over the place," she says. (Even more surprising is that Brandt, who has an Instagram following of over 80k, is "in the dark ages" when it comes to her music, and was buying individual songs on iTunes up until a year ago, when her family intervened with an Apple Music plan.)

Though what she's listening to at any given time can vary dramatically, the through-line for Brandt is nostalgia: songs that take her back, whether to childhood, a favorite movie or a piece she's recently performed. Brandt told us about her eclectic taste, and made us a playlist that will keep you guessing:

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Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

NYCDA Is Redefining the Convention Scene Through Life-Changing Opportunities

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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Courtesy The Joyce

Dance Magazine Chairman's Award Honoree: Linda Shelton

In an industry that has been clamoring for more female leadership, Linda Shelton, executive director of New York City's The Joyce Theater Foundation since 1993, has been setting an example for decades. As a former general manager of The Joffrey Ballet, U.S. tour manager for the Bolshoi Ballet, National Endowment for the Arts panelist, Dance/NYC board member and Benois de la Danse judge, as well as a current Dance/USA board member, Shelton has served as a global leader in dance. In her tenure at The Joyce, she has not only increased the venue's commissioned programming, but also started presenting beyond The Joyce's walls in locations such as Lincoln Center.

What brought you to The Joyce?

That was many years ago, but it's still the same today: It's a belief in and passion for the mission of the theater, which is to support dance in all of its forms and varieties—every kind of dance that you could imagine.

Diversity is so important in dance leadership today. How do you approach this at The Joyce?

Darren Walker said something interesting at a Dance/NYC Symposium, which was that The Joyce is a disruptor. It was nice to hear in that context, because we don't think of it as something new. We didn't have to change our mission statement to be more diverse. We've been doing this since day one.

Is drawing in new audiences and maintaining longtime supporters ever in conflict?

Of course. I call it the blessing and the curse of our mission. We do present more experimental companies that may attract a younger audience. But it's very tricky. You're not going to tell your long-term audience, "Don't come and see this because you're not going to like the music." We've had people walk out of the theater before, but it's a response. It's important to spark those conversations.

What experimenting have you done?

We've tried a "pay what you decide" ticket the past couple of seasons with some of our more adventurous programming. You would reserve your seat for a dollar and after seeing the show pay what you decide is right for you.

Do you have advice for other dance presenters?

Find opportunities to sit with colleagues from around the country. At Dance/USA there's a presenters' council where we come together and talk about what we're putting in our seasons and what we're passionate about. Maybe there are enough presenters to collaborate and make it possible to bring a company to New York or to do a tour around the country.

Also, remember what it's all about: making that connection between what's onstage and the audience. If we can do that, despite every visa issue and missed flight and injury and changed program and whatever else comes our way, then we should feel good about the job we're doing.

To purchase tickets to the Dance Magazine Awards or become a sponsor, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

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