What Dancers Eat

Why Mean Girls' Kamille Upshaw Spends an Hour Meal Prepping After Performances

Courtesy Upshaw

Kamille Upshaw is no stranger to getting through eight shows a week. The Hamilton alum, who currently performs in Mean Girls, knows what her body needs to perform at its best: vegetables, protein, healthy carbs, but also greasy pizza and treats that please her sweet tooth.

We checked in with her for Dance Magazine's "What Dancers Eat" series to find out the fueling secrets that keep her performances so fetch.


On her food philosophy:

"I always try to figure out how to satisfy my stomach in the healthiest way possible. I eat all meat, vegetables and good carbs—brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes. I try to buy organic produce and non-farm-fed meat. This gives me leeway to never hesitate to indulge my sweet tooth or my craving for a greasy slice of pepperoni pizza!"

What a typical day of meals looks like: 

Breakfast: "A bowl of oatmeal with raspberries, blueberries & agave. Two scrambled eggs and bacon."

Lunch: "Lots of snacking! Sliced cucumbers with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Some popcorn and almonds."

Dinner: "I pick a protein and then usually pair it with brown rice and a vegetable. Lately I've been into lots of roasted veggies!"

Her day off treat: 

"I like to think my day off—yes I said 'day' as in a singular day—is my free day! I treat myself to whatever I am craving. Most of the time it's Popeyes or a really good pasta dish. Every other day, my eating habits are clean and healthy so that I can provide my body with the correct nutrients during an eight-shows-a-week schedule."

Her go-to backstage snacks: 

"Pretzels and any trail mix."

A chair marked Kamille has bags of cashews and pretzels on it

Why she loves cooking late at night: 

"Cooking is very therapeutic for me. I usually will do a meal-prep cooking hour right after I get home from my shows at night. It's the best way to wind down and still do something productive. Nothing is more relaxing than chopping vegetables with a glass of wine and some good music!

"My favorite thing to cook is roasted vegetables (carrots, green peppers, red peppers, onions, snow peas and eggplant), paired with some kielbasa, brown rice/quinoa mix, topped with goat cheese! It's a very easy dish to cook, and I usually can make it last for three meals."

A bowl of kielbasa with veggies and goat cheese, sitting atop a cutting board with pieces of cheese

Upshaw's kielbasa with roasted vegetables and goat cheese

Her kitchen must-haves:

"This may sound odd, but I love onions. They can make any dish more flavorful. I usually sauté them in olive oil and then add anything else in the pan.

"The only other thing that's consistently in my kitchen is eggs. I love them for breakfast, but they can be a good snack when boiled to get some solid protein."

Her favorite treat: 

"The Milk Bar B'Day Truffle balls. If you haven't had them, go get them now! It's like eating cookie dough but not the raw egg part. Trust me, you will not be disappointed."

The one food she can't stand: 

"I think figs are so disgusting—and I have given them a fair try multiple times.

"Other than that, I have a very well versed palate. I owe that to my nana and mom! They were always encouraging me to try new foods at a young age."

Her favorite place to go out to eat:

"I am in love with the sea scallop dish at Ocean Prime. They are always cooked perfectly and accompanied by Parmesan risotto, English peas and citrus vinaigrette.

"Or, when I am trying to not be fancy and have something more reasonably priced, my go-to is Ponty Bistro, in Harlem. They have a killer linguini alla scampi. It feeds all my pasta dreams."

Day in the Life

Most people may know Derek Dunn for his impeccable turns and alluring onstage charisma. But the Boston Ballet principal dancer is just as charming offstage, whether he's playing with his 3-year-old miniature labradoodle or working in the studio. Dance Magazine recently spent the day with Dunn as he prepared for his debut as Albrecht in the company's upcoming run of Giselle.

Dance Training
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Mark Morris Dance Group

You know compelling musicality when you see it. But how do you cultivate it? It's not as elusive as it might seem. Musicality, like any facet of dance, can be developed and honed over time—with dedicated, detailed practice. At its most fundamental, it's "respect for the music, that this is your partner," says Kate Linsley, academy principal of the School of Nashville Ballet.

Keep reading... Show less
The USC Kaufman graduating class with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Gus Ruelas/USC

Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.

Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:

Keep reading... Show less
In Memoriam
Ross Parkes, right, teaching in Shanghai in 1983. Lan-Lan Wang is at left. Courtesy Lan-Lan Wang.

Notable dancer and beloved teacher, Ross Parkes, 79, passed away on August 5, 2019 in New York City. He was a founding faculty member at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, where he taught from 1984 to 2006. Lin Hwai-min, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater, said: "He nurtured two generations of dancers in Taiwan, and his legacy will continue."

About his dancing, Tonia Shimin, professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara and producer of Mary Anthony: A Life in Modern Dance, said this: "He was an exquisite, eloquent dancer who inhabited his roles completely."

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox