There are only a few featured roles in any ballet with many dancers hoping for a chance to perform them. Stock Snap.

So You're Not the Sugar Plum Fairy. Here's How to Move Past Casting Disappointment

This year I expected to be cast in a solo role in Nutcracker after adding private lessons and Pilates to my schedule. Yet I only landed a demi-solo part. How should I deal with this setback?

—Wannabe Sugar Plum, Bethpage, NY

Celebrate it! After all, you are moving in the right direction. There are only a few featured roles in any ballet with many dancers hoping for a chance to perform them. Your hard work moved you up a notch, so it isn't a setback. Now, do your best to nail it!

Next year, rather than expecting to be cast in a leading role like the Sugar Plum Fairy, try to set up other Nutcracker gigs on your own. Contact your old dance school (where they may be thrilled to have you back as a professional), or find an enterprising dancer who's looking for a partner. This type of experience will help you develop as a performer. I've even seen dancers get promoted by their companies after they did outside gigs that enhanced their range.

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at

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TaraMarie Perri in tree pose at Storm King Art Center. Photo by Sophie Kuller, Courtesy Perri

5 Self-Soothing Exercises You Can Do to Calm Your Anxiety

Physical stillness can be one of the hardest things to master in dance. But stillness in the bigger sense—like when your career and life are on hold—goes against every dancers' natural instincts.

"Dancers are less comfortable with stillness and change than most," says TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of Perri Institute for Mind and Body and Mind Body Dancer. "Through daily discipline, we are trained to move through space and are attracted to forward momentum. Simply put, dancers are far more comfortable when they have a sense of control over the movements and when life is 'in action.' "

To regain that sense of control, and soothe some of the anxiety most of us are feeling right now, it helps to do what we know best: Get back into our bodies. Certain movements and shapes can help ground us, calm our nervous system and bring us into the present.