What Dancers Eat

Why Broadway Dancer Ryan Steele Eats Whatever His Body Craves—Including Domino's

Steele relies on carbs for Broadway-worthy energy. Photo by Lee Gumbs, courtesy Steele

Ryan Steele has a simple rule for demanding days on Broadway: "I listen to my body," he says. "I have whatever I'm craving: If I need more protein, I go straight for that. If I'm tired, I know I need carbs."

This wasn't always Steele's approach. Growing up, shuttling between the studio and school meant relying on McDonald's and Burger King.


Now, he focuses on staying in touch with whatever his body is asking for, though eating between shows still challenges him. "You need enough calories, but you can't eat too much: A stomach full of lasagna won't do well," he says, with a laugh. "Often I'll go to Chirping Chicken for the chicken shawarma sandwich or wings—but nothing too much."

How He Figured Out His Ideal Meal Plan

Steele in the 2013 film Five Dances

Two years ago, Steele worked with a nutritionist for a month and a half to figure out what worked best for him. "It was always hard for me to eat as much protein as she suggested, so I turned to protein shakes," he says. The extra protein boost helped him pull double duty this summer when he was performing in Broadway's Carousel and rehearsing for a production lab at the same time.

For Steele, focusing on his own needs—not the trends or tips that work for others—is key. "Some people are intense around cutting carbohydrates, but I enjoy carbs and they help me with energy and blood sugar," he says. "Take three days and test different things, taking things out, or adding them back in. Everyone is different. It's all about the situation and your unique body."

His Kitchen Must-Haves

  • eggs
  • granola
  • Suja Green Juice
  • frozen dinners from Trader Joe's, like Superfood Pilaf and Chicken Chow Mein

His Favorite Nostalgic Treat

Even though New York City is home to some of the world's best pizza, Steele loves Domino's. "People give me a lot of sass about it, but I love the thin crust, which feels healthier. And the Pizza Tracker makes it feel so personal. Plus, I have tons of reward points!"

Why He Has to Take Singing Into Account

Because musical theater requires vocal health, too, Steele has to be careful of how late he eats and foods that lead to acid reflux. "I stay away from really creamy things," he says. "If I eat a lot of ice cream at once, the next morning I wake up achy. I sub in things like coconut milk ice cream instead."

In Memoriam
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Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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