Ditch the Gym: 10 Top Outdoor Cross-Training Options for Dancers
If dancing across a stage is the greatest way to break a sweat, pounding a treadmill under fluorescent lighting has to be among the worst.
"A lot of people hate the gym," says Lauren McIntyre, an athletic trainer and clinical specialist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Health. Luckily, you don't need a gym membership to cross-train effectively.
Working out outside boosts your mood and self-esteem, improves cognitive function and reduces stress, according to Jo Barton, head of the Green Exercise research program at the University of Essex. It's also an easy way to get vitamin D, which dancers run notoriously low on.
Cross-training outside also just feels more fun: Barton says people report enjoying the activity more and are more willing to do it again. Her group's research even shows people often work harder outdoors but feel like the task is easier than if it's done inside. "Sometimes, you don't even feel like you're getting a workout because you're enjoying it so much," McIntyre says.
Outdoor exercise can be a particularly good choice for building aerobic fitness, which can lag in dancers, says McIntyre. "You can do outdoor activities that enhance your cardio-respiratory health all year long." She suggests choosing whatever activity you like most—just be smart. For instance, the week before a performance may not be the time for downhill skiing, and if you're prone to ankle injuries, skip trail running.
• Running: If you're not hurting and your form is fluid, running is a cheap cardio workout you can do almost anywhere.
• Hiking or trail running: Improves leg strength, balance and proprioception. "It can be almost like doing a StairMaster when you're going uphill," McIntyre says.
• Biking: Excellent nonimpact cardio.
• Rollerblading: Serious work for your hip abductors.
• Basketball: "You're going to get a great workout," McIntyre says. "If you enjoy it—and you have that hand-eye coordination—rock on."
• Swimming: The total-body workout. No impact, all conditioning.
• Stand-up paddle boarding: Strengthens your core and stabilizing muscles.
• Kayaking: The rare arm-focused cardio workout.
• Skiing: Cross-country and downhill will get your heart and lungs pumping.
• Snowshoeing: "If you get motoring pretty quickly, you can work up quite a sweat," McIntyre says.
Alicia has died. I walked around my apartment feeling her spirit, but knowing something had changed utterly.
My father, the late conductor Benjamin Steinberg, was the first music director of the Ballet de Cuba, as it was called then. I grew up in Vedado on la Calle 1ra y doce in a building called Vista al Mar. My family lived there from 1959 to 1963. My days were filled with watching Alicia teach class, rehearse and dance. She was everything: hilarious, serious, dramatic, passionate and elegiac. You lost yourself and found yourself when you loved her.
"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.
It's Nutcracker time again: the season of sweet delights and a sparkling good time—if we're able to ignore the sour taste left behind by the outdated racial stereotypes so often portrayed in the second act.
In 2017, as a result of a growing list of letters from audience members, to New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief Peter Martins reached out to us asking for assistance on how to modify the elements of Chinese caricature in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Following that conversation, we founded the Final Bow for Yellowface pledge that states, "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages."
An audience member once emailed Dallas choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, claiming his work was vulgar. It complained that he shouldn't be pushing his agenda. As the artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Peugh's recent choreography largely deals with LGBTQ issues.
"I got angry when I saw that email, wrote my angry response, deleted it, and then went back and explained to him that that's exactly why I should be making those works," says Peugh.
With the current political climate as polarized as it is, many artists today feel compelled to use their work to speak out on issues they care deeply about. But touring with a message is not for the faint of heart. From considerations about how to market the work to concerns about safety, touring to cities where, in general, that message may not be so welcome, requires companies to figure out how they'll respond to opposition.