6 Easy Eco-Friendly Swaps All Dancers Can Make
With dancers' busy schedules, it's easy to forget about how much waste we're creating, or how our daily routines might be contributing to pollution or climate change. But the fact is that everything we do—from getting ready for a show backstage to fueling up for a rehearsal—has an impact on the environment.
Start small by swapping out these six everyday items for eco-friendly versions. Don't worry, they aren't overly expensive: In fact some of them may save you money.
#1: Ditch Plastic Water Bottles
Swearing off plastic waters bottles is perhaps the easiest way dancers can make their dance practice more sustainable. Luckily, there are tons of fun, customizable reusable brands, like S'well, bkr and Klean Kanteen.
#2: Restock Your Stage Makeup
You may not think of your stage makeup as contributing to pollution, but the plastic packaging that many products come in creates unnecessary waste (that's often not recyclable) and the chemicals in some products pollute our waterways. Brands like Axiology, Inika and ILIA are committed to using natural ingredients and eco-friendly manufacturing practices.
#3: Bring Better Tupperware
We're all for bringing your own healthy meals backstage and to rehearsals. But instead of using plastic baggies or tupperware—which are made from fossil fuels and can leak chemicals into our food—opt for stainless steel or glass containers.
#4: Buy Non-Aerosol Hair Products
Yes, we've come a long way as far as ridding hairspray of toxic chemicals. But many hair products still contain aerosols, which contribute to smog and can damage our water supply. Non-aerosol products are just as effective at taming your flyaways.
#5: Swap Out Your Sneakers
Fast fashion shoe production tends to leave a large carbon footprint. Swap out your cross-training sneaks for a brand like Ecoalf, which makes its shoes from recycled waste.
#6: Upgrade Your Yoga or Pilates Mat
If you're using a mat to cross-train, make sure it's one that's free of PVC, synthetic rubbers and other ozone-depleting substances.
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
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:
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."
"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.