Dinner To Go

Fueling your body for performance can be an art in itself. But when you leave for tour, it becomes next to impossible to maintain your tried-and-true meal plan. Perishable foods like raw veggies may not be easily available. Cooking is typically out of the question. And your stomach is at the mercy of strange, foreign dishes. Add in different time zones, an unfamiliar bed and intense performance schedules, and your body can get completely thrown off. So how do dancers stay in top form on the road? Five touring veterans gave us their best advice.

Alex Wong

Dancer in TV series “Flesh and Bone"

Must-brings: “My protein powder: GNC Amplified Mass XXX. When you're traveling, you can't always find the brands you like."

Go-to plane snacks: “Sometimes I fly a few times a week. I bring an empty water bottle in my carry-on, because there are always water fountains. And I always, always have a few bars: maybe a protein bar, a Clif Bar, a few basic granola bars, maybe a piece of candy, some gum."

Restaurant meals: “I like to find restaurants that are fairly simple, because when you eat out a lot, you miss that home-cooked taste. I'll grab a salad with protein in it for lunch. But for dinner, I'll have something heavier, like a burger or pasta."

Strangest dish tried: “Street meat in China. I'm not even sure what kind of animal it was, but it was good!"

Above: Photo Courtesy Wong.

Jacqueline Green

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Must-brings: “Tostitos chips and salsa—they don't need a refrigerator, and they make me happy. Also, I keep granola and oats in my theater case so that I have a snack right by my station in the dressing room."

Go-to plane snacks: “I try to keep it light. On a travel day when you're standing around and not doing anything, you get hungry just because you're like, 'Oh, I'm not doing anything, let me eat.' I usually just have the nuts or pretzels that they bring out."

Grocery list upon arrival: “I'll pick up fruits that will last, like apples, bananas and oranges, and maybe some vitamin drinks, energy bars and granola bars. I love the strawberry Special K bars."

Local flavor: “I try to find a juicery in each city. It's expensive, and some dancers in the company travel with a NutriBullet so they can make juices themselves, but I don't really have the space in my theater case. I like green juices with kale, especially when they have apple in them, because it sweetens it. I try to drink juice two or three times a week. When I'm tired, it boosts my energy for the rest of the day."

Restaurant meals: “I like to get sushi before I perform. It's light, but it fills you. And if there's room service at the hotel, I'll order off the kid's menu, because they have smaller portions. I love chicken fingers or a chicken Caesar salad. I love any kind of soup. And I try to get a side of mixed vegetables, or something colorful on my plate. But I'm actually trying to figure out a way to not eat out so much on tour. We get a per diem, but it's still very expensive."

Strangest dish tried: “I don't really venture too much—I love, love spaghetti Bolognese, so I order it all the time. Though I do like trying international fast food. There's

something different about the taste. When we went to Zurich, there was a McDonald's across the street, and everyone said, 'Oh, I'm not gonna go there.' But after performances, almost everywhere else was closed, so we caved. And it was really tasty!"

Above: Photo by Andrew Eccles, Courtesy AAADT

Whitney Jensen

Principal at Boston Ballet

Must-brings: “I always take tea. I love peppermint tea and green tea—and all types of tea, really. If I'm going overseas, I'll take a protein shake that I like called Sunwarrior, and I might take an oatmeal that's gluten-free and wheat-free. I've been trying to eat gluten-free and wheat-free for about a year, just because I think that sometimes people can develop food intolerances without knowing it. I've noticed that since I stopped eating gluten I feel so much better—I'm more energized, and I don't retain as much water as I used to."

Travel-sized cooking tool: “I'll usually take some sort of blender, sometimes two. When we went to Spain my first year in the company, I took my bullet blender everywhere. But because the power voltage in Europe is so much stronger, it burned out!"

Strangest dish: “In Helsinki, I tried a bite of something that I think was deer. It was definitely unusual."

Above: Jensen in Afternoon of a Faun with Sabi Varga. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

Acacia Schachte

Freelance Dancer

Must-brings: “Vega powder, which has a lot of dark greens and vitamins in it. I just put it in apple juice and shake it up. I also take spirulina tablets, and I've noticed a huge difference in my energy when I take them—it's like eating a ton of broccoli or kale. And I always bring power gels, little packets that cyclists and other athletes use for a boost of energy. If we have a long day, I might take a power gel before dancing one of our pieces. It doesn't give me the jitters like coffee would."

Being vegetarian on the road: “In the morning I try to always have eggs and something a bit heavier right away to sustain my energy. Usually it's a yogurt and some fruit, maybe a piece of bread or some potatoes."

Pre-performance meal plan: “On performance days, I do more snacking during the day, then eat something small right before the show. Maybe a small sandwich or some fruit and yogurt. If the company provides dinner, I might have a little pasta and salad. I like to eat an actual meal after the show, but not too much before."

Restaurant meals: “Pretty much every dinner is out, after the show. But whenever we have kitchens, I'll do a lot of cooking."

Above: Schachte with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in Andonis Foniadakis' Horizons. Photo by Paula Lobo, Courtesy Cedar Lake.

Katherine Crockett

Principal at Martha Graham Dance Company

Must-brings: “I feel like half of my suitcase is vitamins. I always take Emergen-C—I love the tangerine flavor. Every morning I'll mix it with a drink powder called Green Vibrance, which is basically dehydrated and powdered greens, like wheat grass and spinach. I also pack a product called Amazing Meal (the chocolate flavor) in my theater case for when I don't have time to run out for a square meal. It has rice protein and greens, and I mix it with almond milk, which has a creamy texture, so it kind of tastes like a milk shake.

“I also bring some nuts and dried fruit. Raw cashews are my favorite—I've been really getting into raw foods lately. They're easy to digest, so you aren't adding more stress on your body while traveling. I get a snack mix with spirulina super chips and dehydrated dates."

Grocery list upon arrival: “If we have a refrigerator, I'll get kombucha, some coconut water and veggies. If not, Lärabars and healthy crackers, like Mary's Gone Crackers, that are made with flaxseeds and no wheat."

Travel-sized cooking tool: “A hot-water immersive heater. It's a metal thing you clip onto a cup and plug in to heat up water. Sometimes after a show I like to sleep in, so I'll use it to have oatmeal in my room."

Being pescatarian on the road: “In Spain, it seemed like all they had was meat. They basically asked me what part of the pig I wanted—the cheek or the foot. I lived off eggs and toast, and some salad. When I got home, I went to a grocery store and just stood there looking at all that green."

Strangest dish tried: “Shark fin soup in Taiwan. I didn't like the idea of it, because they kill the sharks for their fins. But eating it was a respectful thing to do, because it was at an important dinner and the host was graciously presenting something that was a delicacy."

From top: Dinner in Barcelona with Graham dancers Tadej Brdnik and Oliver Tobin, and a friend, Courtesy Crockett; Crockett as Phaedra, by Hibbard Nash Photography, Courtesy Graham.

Ashley Rivers is a writer and dancer in Boston.

Health & Body
Getty Images

Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.

"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

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:

Keep reading... Show less
The Creative Process
Rehearsal of Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets. Photo by Paula Court, Courtesy Performa.

Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox