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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
Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.
"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
In his final bow at New York City Ballet, during what should have been a heroic conclusion to a celebrated ballet career, Robert Fairchild slipped and fell. His reaction? To lie down flat on his back like he meant to do it. Then start cracking up at himself.
"He's such a ham," says his sister Megan Fairchild, with a laugh. "He's really good at selling whatever his body is doing that day. He'll turn a moment that I would totally go home and cry about into something where the audience is like, 'That's the most amazing thing ever!' "
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.