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Try This App for a Healthier Grocery Haul

I'm naturally thin and have been living on fast food such as burgers, fries and pizza. Now I'm trying to eat better to prepare for auditions. I know the basics, like choosing good carbs, protein and fat, but it's hard to make smart choices when I'm grocery shopping. Any ideas?

—S.H., New York, NY


It's great that you're making a healthier diet a priority, especially since you live in a city like New York, where takeout can be so easy. Focus on making the majority of your diet real, whole foods. When choosing packaged foods, there's an app called Fooducate that gives a letter grade for quality and content, based on everything from calories and fat to healthy ingredients, vitamins and minerals. It also spots hidden traps such as empty calories, lots of additives and high-fructose corn syrup, which lower a food's grade. Just scan the bar code of a product or search with a specific keyword, like "bagel," to see how algorithms created by nutrition professionals and dietitians rate it. If you'd like help with a more comprehensive plan, you can work with a registered dietitian nutritionist. Referrals are available through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, at eatright.org/find-an-expert. Either way, being aware of what's in what you're eating will help ensure you have sufficient energy for dance.

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at advicefordancers@dancemedia.com.

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Ballet BC dancers Tara Williamson, left, and Darren Devaney in RITE by Emily Molnar. Photo by Chris Randle, Courtesy Ballet BC

Why Do Mixed-Rep Companies Still Rely on Ballet for Company Class?

In a single performance by a mixed-rep company, you might see its shape-shifting dancers performing barefoot, in sneakers and in heels. While such a group may have "ballet" in its name and even a rack of tutus in storage, its current relationship to the art form can be tenuous at best. That disconnect grows wider every year as contemporary choreographers look beyond ballet—if not beyond white Western forms entirely—in search of new inspiration and foundational techniques.

Yet dancers at almost all of the world's leading mixed-rep ensembles take ballet classes before rehearsals and shows. Most companies rarely depart from ballet more than twice a week and some never offer alternative classes.

"The question, 'Why do you take ballet class to prepare you for repertory which is not strictly classical?' has been in the air since Diaghilev's time," says Peter Lewton-Brain, Monaco-based president of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science. "What you're doing onstage is often not what you're doing in class."

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