I Resolve To...
It’s in a dancer’s nature to constantly strive to be better, to grow stronger, to get healthier. So choosing a New Year’s resolution is usually the easy part; harder is putting it into action—and staying consistent about it. The surest road to success is to have more than one strategy. We asked a variety of experts for their advice, because there’s no one right way to make your resolution a reality.
Alison Deleget, MS, ATC, clinical specialist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries in New York City
Nadine Kaslow, PhD, past president of the American Psychological Association, psychologist for Atlanta Ballet
Randy Skinner, Broadway director, choreographer and master teacher
Heidi Skolnik, MS, CDN, FACSM, sports nutrition consultant for the School of American Ballet
Katie Lemmon, certified athletic trainer at Athletico Physical Therapy in Chicago
Get More “Toned”
Lemmon: “Try varying the amount, intensity or weight of strength-training exercises so the body is always challenged. One exercise I like for dancers is the airplane, which works the glutes and legs: Start in a parallel passé, bend the standing leg and extend the working leg into an arabesque, then return to passé. You can also extend the arms out to the sides for some shoulder stability and arm work.”
Deleget: “To look toned without bulking up, strength-train with more repetitions but fewer sets. For example, a weight lifter might do seven sets of four reps using a heavy weight, but dancers should do two to three sets of 15 reps with a lighter weight.”
Photo by Nathan Sayers
Tackle My Audition Anxiety
Kaslow: “The best way to master something you’re afraid of is to do it—not to avoid it. Do practice auditions with your teachers. Have other dancers watch and critique you. The more audition-like experiences you have, the easier they’ll get.”
Skinner: “Wake up early enough to do a really good warm-up: If you avoid rushing, you won’t feel discombobulated.”
Deleget: “To calm the anxiety buzz, close your eyes and take 5- to 10-second breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth for two to three minutes. Repeat a positive mantra to yourself, such as, ‘I will be the best I can be and let myself shine.’ ”
Skolnik: “If you’re hungry, you’re going to feel more anxious. But you don’t want to feel weighed down or bloated, either. Pack small, easy to digest snacks like apple sauce, a banana, trail mix or Cheerios. Another great option is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cut in quarters so that you can eat one quarter at a time throughout a long audition day, which will give you stable energy.”
Photo by Nathan Sayers
Get Higher Jumps
Lemmon: “Studies have shown that dynamic, moving warm-ups instead of static stretches before a performance will improve jump height. I’d recommend a walking lunge in various directions—side to side and back to front—for the length of the studio. Another easy one is standing leg swings, so you’re working through a range of motion at the same time. An entire dynamic warm-up should last between 5 and 10 minutes, doing each exercise for roughly 30 seconds.”
Deleget: “Try a plyometric training program. Harkness offers a progressive six-week program that takes dancers through basic jump training, moving from pedestrian, stable jumps to dance-specific exercises designed to strengthen leg muscles, and improve stamina and explosiveness. For example, they start with two-leg, parallel tuck jumps, then progress to parallel pas de chats, then to turned-out pas de chats. Each exercise is done for 30 seconds, three times per week for two weeks, before progressing to the next version. Dancers have to be strong to undertake this training; it’s important they do it with an athletic trainer.”
Improve My Stamina
Lemmon: “Add cardiovascular exercise, like swimming or the elliptical trainer, for 20 to 40 minutes, three days per week. And although it’s hard to get cardiovascular training during most dance classes, it could help to repeat a few jumping combinations after class. Generally, it takes six to eight weeks to notice results.”
Deleget: “Try interval training, which improves your aerobic and anaerobic capacity at the same time. You’ll want a one-to-one ratio of high-intensity and low-intensity activities—two minutes on the elliptical followed by two minutes of Pilates exercises, for example, for 15 to 20 minutes, three to four times per week. Add this in when you’re in a cross-training time of the year—not during performance season.”
Skolnik: “Carbohydrates are an especially good power source, since muscles use them for energy. That doesn’t necessarily mean loading up on pasta and bread. Go for fruits, vegetables, beans, sweet potatoes, yogurt and milk, which all have carbohydrates.”
Become More Fearless Onstage
Skinner: “Take a moment in each class to do something a little bigger than you normally would. Take up more space or take an extra risk. Kick yourself into performance mode. Imagine you’re in front of an audience, and you’ll be better prepared when you actually are.”
Deleget: “Before curtain, visualize yourself completing the show successfully.”
Kaslow: “The more you can be yourself, the more fearless you can be. You’re not going to be perfect—nobody ever is. Strive to be excellent.”
Ask for the Roles I Want
Kaslow: “Don’t catch your director off guard. Schedule a specific time to talk. During your conversation, make just a couple points about your strengths as a dancer and your commitment to working hard, and never put anybody else down. Also, make it clear that you understand that they’ll make the choice they think is best for the company. And be sure to handle it maturely if you don’t get the part. If not, you’ll be less likely to get roles in the future.”
Skinner: “If you don’t ask, you run the risk that people won’t know what you’re thinking. The same thing is true if you’re interested in being a dance captain or assistant. It never hurts to write a nice note to express your interest in a way that’s not pushy or aggressive. The written word will feel less confrontational.”
Have More Energy
Skolnik: “If you feel chronically lackluster, see a doctor to check whether you have an iron deficiency or anemia. You may also be under- or overeating, which a nutritionist can help with. Be careful of drinking caffeine in the afternoon, since it can interfere with sleep. And avoid energy drinks—the mixed stimulants can affect your nerves, blood pressure and heart rate. When you have a coffee, you tend to sip it over time, but with energy drinks you tend to gulp quickly, so it’s a big shock to your system.”
Skinner: “Think about how you’re managing stress. People often think that being busy keeps your energy up, but pacing yourself carefully and having moments of calm are how you truly reenergize.”
Lemmon: “Give yourself a full day off during long rehearsal weeks. If you have proper recovery, your muscles can regenerate.”
Deleget: “Sleep more, eat more and eat better. Sleep is essential for recovery from activity—9 to 10 hours per night is optimal for athletes. And remember that when you’re in a calorie deficit, you’re in an energy deficit, but quality needs to be there, as well: Twinkies aren’t necessarily going to bring your energy level up.”
Rachel Zar is a freelance writer in Chicago.
Make It Stick
According to a study by University of Scranton, only 8 percent of people who make resolutions actually achieve them. How can you keep your New Year’s goals going strong all year long?
Take it one resolution at a time. Dancers are often overachievers, so it’s easy to decide to accomplish 10 goals at once. But according to a study at Stanford University, choosing only one will increase your chances of succeeding.
Concentrate on the process, not the end result. “I like to think of New Year’s goals, instead of resolutions,” says psychologist Nadine Kaslow. “It’s too easy to fail at a ‘resolution,’ but a ‘goal’ is something you can make progress and work toward.”
Write it down. You’ll be more likely to remember to complete your plyometrics routine if it’s written on a to-do list. And studies have shown that the act of writing your resolution out increases your odds of following through.
Make it a habit. If you pack that healthy snack as part of your routine for a few weeks, it will start to feel more natural.
Team up. Adding an extra workout will feel easier with a fellow dancer on the elliptical next to you.
Give yourself a break. A dancer’s schedule isn’t the same every week of the year, so acknowledge that there might be times in the season when you have to let your resolution slide.
Reward yourself. Did you successfully make it through an audition stress-free? Allow yourself a treat, such as frozen yogurt or a massage, and you’ll be more likely to do it again. —RZ
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Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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Today—April 16, 2019—marks what would have been Merce Cunningham's 100th birthday. As dancers from Los Angeles to New York City to London gear up for Night of 100 Solos (the marathon performance event being livestreamed today), and as companies and presenters worldwide continue to celebrate the Cunningham Centennial through their programming, we searched through the Dance Magazine Archives to unearth our favorite images of the groundbreaking dancemaker.
A bright disposition with a dab of astringent charm is how I remember Brock Hayhoe, a National Ballet School of Canada schoolmate. Because we were a couple years apart, we barely brushed shoulders, except at the odd Toronto dance party where we could dance all night with mutual friends letting our inhibitions subside through the music. Dancing always allows a deeper look.
But, as my late great ballet teacher Pyotr Pestov told me when I interviewed him for Dance Magazine in 2009, "You never know what a flower is going to look like until it opens up."
One night. Three cities. Seventy-five dancers. And three unique sets of 100 solos, all choreographed by Merce Cunningham.
This incredible evening of dance will honor Cunningham's 100th birthday on April 16. The Merce Cunningham Trust has teamed up with The Barbican in London, the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City and the Center for the Art of Performance in Los Angeles for a tri-city celebration.
The best part? You don't have to be in those cities to watch—Night of 100 Solos is being live-streamed in its entirety for free.
When George Balanchine's full-length Don Quixote premiered in 1965, critics and audiences alike viewed the ballet as a failure. Elaborate scenery and costumes framed mawkish mime passages, like one in which the ballerina washed the Don's feet and dried them with her hair. Its revival in 2005 by Suzanne Farrell, the ballerina on whom it was made and to whom Balanchine left the work, did little to alter its reputation.
Yet at New York City Center's Balanchine festival last fall, some regretted its absence.
"I'd want to see Balanchine's Don Quixote," says Apollinaire Scherr, dance critic for the Financial Times. "It was a labor of love on his part, and a love letter as well. And you want to know what that looks like in his work."
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After the horrific March 15 terrorist attacks at two New Zealand mosques, the music and arts community sprang into action to plan a way to help victims and their families. A series of resulting concerts, titled "You Are Us/Aroha Nui," will take place in New Zealand (April 13 and 17), Jersey City, New Jersey (April 17) and Los Angeles (April 18). Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Our People, Our City Fund, which was established by the Christchurch Foundation to aid those affected by the attacks.
Throughout 2019, the Merce Cunningham Trust continues a global celebration that will be one of the largest tributes to a dance artist ever. Under the umbrella of the Merce Cunningham Centennial are classes and workshops, film screenings and festivals, art exhibitions and symposia, and revivals and premieres of original works inspired by the dancemaker's ideas. The fever peaks on April 16, which would have been the pioneering choreographer's 100th birthday, with Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event, featuring a total of 75 dancers in three performances live-streamed from London, Los Angeles and New York City.
Cloud & Victory gets dancers. The dancewear brand's social media drools over Roberto Bolle's abs, sets classical variations to Beyoncé and moans over Mondays and long adagios. And it all comes from the mind of founder Tan Li Min, the boss lady who takes on everything from designs to inventory to shipping orders.
Known simply (and affectionately) to the brand's 41K Instagram followers as Min, she's used her wry, winking sense of humor to give the Singapore-based C&V international cachet.
She recently spoke with Dance Magazine about building the brand, overcoming insecurity and using pizza as inspiration.
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This is huge news, so we'll get straight to it:
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Here they are: the 25 up-and-coming artists we believe represent the future of our field.
At six feet tall, Jesse Obremski dances as though he's investigating each movement for the first time. His quiet transitional moments are as astounding as his long lines, bounding jumps and seamless floorwork. Add in his versatility and work ethic, and it's clear why he's an invaluable asset to New York City choreographers. Currently a freelance artist with multiple contemporary groups, including Gibney Dance Company and Limón Dance Company, Obremski also choreographs for his recently formed troupe, Obremski/Works.
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But for Sasha Hutchings, who danced in the first episode's rendition of "Big Spender," the mood on set was quite opposite from the one that Fosse created. Hutchings had already worked with choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who she calls "a dancer's dream," director Tommy Kail and music director Alex Lacamoire as a original cast member in Hamilton, and she says the collaborators' calm energy made the experience a pleasant one for the dancers.
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