Health & Body

The Dancers' Guide to Using Essential Oils

Unsplash

Essential oils sometimes get a bad rap. Between the aggressive social media marketing for the products and the sometimes magical-sounding claims about their healing properties, it's easy to forget what they can actually do. But if you look beyond the pyramid schemes and exaggerations, experts believe they have legit benefits to offer both mind and body.

How can dancers take advantage of their medicinal properties? We asked Amy Galper, certified aromatherapist and co-founder of the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies:


What Are Essential Oils?

Unsplash

Essential oils are the aromatic extracts from plants that can be absorbed into the blood stream or inhaled. "In one sniff you're getting a mind-body experience along with feeding your body the chemical compounds it needs to heal," says Galper. "The aromatic component affects our unconscious mind and triggers electrical signaling. It instigates part of our brain to start producing enzymes and proteins that become our hormones. So essential oils can trigger appetite, adrenaline, reproductive system, etc."

How to Use Them

Unsplash

To accommodate both absorption into the body and inhalation of the scent, you'll want to add the oil to a delivery system, says Galper, like a base lotion, unscented oil or bath salt.

What's the best method for dancers? If you're looking for fast-penetrating delivery before performing or rehearsing, Galper recommends a gel, as they are non-greasy and won't interfere with costumes or partnering. For a post-performance essential oil experience, try adding oils to your bath.

The Best Oils for Dancers

Unsplash

For reducing inflammation: Try a combination of peppermint, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, and chamomile.

For stress: Galper recommends rose geranium, or a combination of chamomile and orange.

For pre-show nerves: Lavender, which has anti-bacterial, sedating and anti-inflammatory qualities, would be best for calming down before a show, says Galper, and blending with rosemary and orange could help dancers stay focused while quieting the mind of excess worry. Avoid chamomile, which might be too sedating.

For post-show relaxation: To soothe the muscles, try a combination of ylang ylang, lavender and chamomile. Or blend lavender and clary sage with marjoram, which is deeply sedating, says Galper.

For muscular soreness: Galper recommends blending peppermint, frankincense and lavender. Roman chamomile also has anti-spasmatic qualities and can help soothe aches and pains, as well as clear up congestion.

For working through exhaustion: Peppermint has awakening and brightening properties that can improve concentration, says Galper. Black spruce can also reduce exhaustion while quieting the nerves, and citrus oils are energizing and good for the digestive system.

Common Essential Oil Mistakes

Unsplash

The word "oil" can be misleading, says Galper, because essential oils should not feel greasy to the touch. If they do, they aren't real essential oils and shouldn't be used. (They are called oils because their chemical compound is such that they do not dissolve in water.)

Galper says many people use too much at once. One drop is usually plenty, she says, and using more will not make it work better. It can take over 20 pounds of plant to create one small bottle of oil, so they are extremely potent.

Always air on the side of safety: Never use essential oils near an open wound or near the eyes, nose or mouth.

Broadway
Courtesy Macy's, Inc.

As you're prepping your Thanksgiving meal, why not throw in a dash of dance?

This year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is stuffed (pun intended) with performances from four stellar Broadway shows, the Radio City Rockettes and students from three New York City dance institutions.

Tune in to NBC November 28 from 9 am to noon (in all time zones), or catch the rebroadcast at 2 pm (also in all time zones). Here's what's in store:

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

Keep reading... Show less
Rant & Rave
Sergei Polunin. Photo by British Broadcasting Corporation and Polunin Ltd., Courtesy Sundance Selects.

Last week, Variety reported that Sergei Polunin would reunite with the team behind Dancer for another documentary. "Where 'Dancer' looked at his whole life, family and influences," director Steven Cantor said, " 'Satori' will focus more squarely on his creative process as performer and, for the first time ever, choreographer." The title references a poorly received evening of work by the same name first presented by Polunin in 2017. (It recently toured to Moscow and St. Petersburg.)

I cannot be the only person wondering why we should care.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox