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How to Make Resolutions That Actually Get You The Results You Want

The clean slate of a new year makes January prime time for big plans, dreams and, of course, resolutions. But jotting down a bunch of far-fetched goals probably isn't going to keep you motivated throughout the year. Here, experts sound off on four common dancer resolutions, and how to make each more effective.

The Resolution: "Stretch More"

What it's missing: A specific action plan

How to fix it: "Have your goals be measurable," says Alicia Ferriere, physical therapist at Finish Line Physical Therapy in New York City. "If you want to stretch more, what muscles do you feel need stretching?"

Ferriere suggests having a time frame in mind. "Commit to something like, 'Over the next three weeks, I'm going to spend five minutes before each class stretching my feet.' " Schedule the time on your calendar—and list exactly which muscles you want to focus on based on that day's class and rehearsal schedule.

The Resolution: "No Carbs After 5 PM"

What it's missing: Staying power

How to fix it: If you're going to make food-related resolutions, try adding to your diet instead of restricting. "Restriction almost always backfires," explains Heather Caplan, a registered dietitian who co-owns the online sports nutrition practice Fit Fueling. "When you restrict, you may find yourself with strong sugar cravings, low energy or poor sleep patterns, and may feel sluggish during rehearsals."

Instead of deciding when you "can't" eat a certain food group, Caplan suggests balancing each meal and snack with whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables to ensure you're getting enough fuel to perform at your best.

"Elimination diets are popular at this time of year, with people internalizing messages that they've 'overindulged' during the holiday season, and therefore need to intentionally detox," says Caplan. "But our bodies detox on their own. I understand the allure of a clean slate with a new year. It's intoxicating to think we can feel like a totally new person simply by restricting a few so-called 'bad foods.' But resolutions don't have staying power when they're rooted in restriction."

The Resolution: "Do Whole30 for the Month of January"

What it's missing: The motivation

How to fix it: Weight-loss goals are especially common in January. But, Caplan stresses, it's important to get to the root of your desire to lose weight. "It's easy to feel like weight loss will result in feeling like a better dancer, or a better version of yourself," she says. "I would encourage some self-reflection: Is this a realistic goal for you? What will happen if you do lose weight? What if you don't?"

According to Caplan, more than 90 percent of weight-loss diets fail. In most cases, people regain more than they lost, thus beginning an unhealthy—and hard to break—cycle of dieting.

"Think about habits and behaviors rather than focusing on a weight outcome," Caplan recommends. "Will you feel better during rehearsals if you're well fueled versus restricting calories? Will you be able to perform better if your body is nourished versus underfed?"

Some diets are medically necessary, but for most healthy dancers, focusing on optimal fueling will bring you closer to your performance goals.

The Resolution: "Get Stronger and Cross-Train"

What it's missing: A plan and an expert

How to fix it: A teacher or certified trainer can help you figure out what to add to your regimen to get stronger and keep dancing your best. "Find out which muscles would benefit the most from strength training—it's very different for every dancer," says Ferriere. "This can help you avoid injuries."

Once you figure out what muscles you want to focus on, create a detailed action plan: If you want to strengthen your back, for example, find a few exercises and commit to doing them for 10 minutes, two days a week, for the next two months.

Mix It Up!

Don't spend your year obsessing over one resolution. "Having a variety of goals makes little achievements more exciting, and gives you motivation for the long term," says Ferriere. "Set time frames to check in with your goals, see how you've progressed and ask where they can be modified. Then, as you achieve your goals, think about how you can create new ones. And reward yourself!"

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Courtesy Harlequin

What Does It Take to Make a Safe Outdoor Stage for Dance?

Warmer weather is just around the corner, and with it comes a light at the end of a hibernation tunnel for many dance organizations: a chance to perform again. While social distancing and mask-wearing remain essential to gathering safely, the great outdoors has become an often-preferred performance venue.

But, of course, nature likes to throw its curveballs. What does it take to successfully pull off an alfresco show?

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Dwight Rhodens "Ave Maria," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Keeping dancers safe outside requires the same intentional flooring as you have in the studio—but it also needs to be hearty enough to withstand the weather. With so many factors to consider, two ballet companies consulted with Harlequin Floors to find the perfect floor for their unique circumstances.

Last fall, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre invested in a mobile stage that allowed the dancers to perform live for socially distanced audiences. "But we didn't have an outdoor resilient floor, so we quickly realized that if we had any rain, we were going to be in big trouble—it would have rotted," says artistic director Susan Jaffe.

The company purchased the lightweight, waterproof Harlequin's AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and the heavy-duty Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl, which is manufactured with BioCote® Antimicrobial Protection to help with the prevention of bacteria and mold. After an indoor test run while filming Nutcracker ("It felt exactly like our regular floor," says Jaffe), the company will debut the new setup this May in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park during a two-week series of performances shared with other local arts organizations.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Open Air Series last fall. The company plans to roll out their new Harlequin AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl floor for more outdoor performances this spring.

Harris Ferris, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

In addition to the possibility of rain, a range of temperatures also has to be taken into account. When the State Ballet of Rhode Island received a grant from the state to upgrade its 15-year-old stage, executive director Ana Fox chose the Harlequin Cascade vinyl floor in the lighter gray color "so that it would be cooler if it's reflecting sunlight during daytime performances," she says.

However, for the civic ballet company's first performance on its new 24-by-48–foot stage on November 22, heat was less of a concern than the Northeastern cold. Fortunately, Fox says the surface never got icy or too stiff. "It felt warm to the feel," she says. "You could see the dancers didn't hesitate to run or step into arabesque." (The Harlequin Cascade floor is known for providing a good grip.)

"To have a safe floor for dancers not to worry about shin splints or something of that nature, that's everything," she says. "The dancers have to feel secure."

State Ballet of Rhode Island first rolled out their new Harlequin Cascade™ flooring for an outdoor performance last November.

Courtesy of Harlequin

Of course, the elements need to be considered even when dancers aren't actively performing. Although Harlequin's AeroDeck is waterproof, both PBT and SBRI have tarps to cover their stages to keep any water out. SBRI also does damp mopping before performances to get pollen off the surface. Additionally, the company is building a shed to safely store the floor long-term when it's not in use. "Of course, it's heavy, but laying down the floor and putting it away was not an issue at all," says Fox, adding that both were easy to accomplish with a crew of four people.

Since the Harlequin Cascade surface is versatile enough to support a wide range of dance styles—and even opera and theater sets—both PBT and SBRI are partnering with other local arts organizations to put their outdoor stages to use as much as possible. Because audiences are hungry for art right now.

"In September, I made our outdoor performance shorter so we wouldn't have to worry about intermission or bathrooms, but when it was over, they just sat there," says Jaffe, with a laugh. "People were so grateful and so happy to see us perform. We just got an overwhelming response of love and gratitude."

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Susan Jaffes "Carmina Terra," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

February 2021