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."

Health & Body
Getty Images

It's hour three of an intense rehearsal, you're feeling mentally foggy and exhausted, and your stomach hurts. Did you know the culprit could be something as simple as dehydration?

Proper hydration helps maintain physical and mental function while you're dancing, and keeps your energy levels high. But with so many products on the market promising to help you rehydrate more effectively, how do you know when it's time to reach for more than water?

Keep reading... Show less
Breaking Stereotypes
James Beaudreau, Courtesy Lara

Inside a bustling television studio in Los Angeles, Lindsay Arnold Cusick hears the words "Five minutes to showtime." While dancers and celebrities covered head to toe in sequins whirl around preparing for their live performances on "Dancing with the Stars," Cusick pauses to say a prayer to God and express her gratitude.

"I know that it's not a given, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to do what I love for a living," says Cusick, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For her, prayer is a ritualized expression of her faith that she has maintained since she was a girl in Provo, Utah. Even with her seven-plus years of industry experience, she always takes a moment to steady herself and close her prayer in Christ's name before rushing onto the stage.

Keep reading... Show less
Broadway

The hotly-debated Michael Jackson biomusical is back on. Not that it was ever officially off, but after its pre-Broadway Chicago run was canceled in February, its future seemed shaky.

Now, the show has secured a Broadway theater, with previews starting July 6 at the Neil Simon Theater.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance History
Jacques d'Amboise leading a National Dance Institute class. Photo by Lois Greenfield, Courtesy DM Archives

In the October 1969 issue of Dance Magazine, we spoke with Jacques d'Amboise, then 20 years into his career with New York City Ballet. Though he became a principal dancer in 1953, the star admitted that it hadn't all been smooth sailing.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox