Your Ideal Pre-Show Prep: A Step-By-Step Guide
You know that how you care for your body before curtain can impact your performance. But with so many factors to consider, it can be difficult to nail down an exact routine. How much rest is enough? How close to showtime should you eat? We asked the experts.
The Night Before
Roll out your muscles: Be sure to cool down appropriately from the long rehearsal days that precede a performance, says sports physical therapist Erwin Seguia. The night before a show, he suggests foam rolling major muscle groups like your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. "Foam rolling helps flush out the waste products that result from physical activity, which aids in the recovery of the muscle," he says.
Get enough sleep: Prioritize rest. The average adult should get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but some elite athletes get up to 11 or 12. Figure out how much you need to feel rested. "If you aren't able to get enough sleep because of late rehearsals, take naps of around 20 minutes during the day," says Seguia.
Eat a balanced meal: Ballet dancer turned registered dietitian Ashley Lucas warns that advice you may have heard to "carb-load" before a big event does not actually lead to improved performance in dance. She suggests eating a hearty, balanced dinner the day before a show. She suggests something like steak with asparagus with olive oil and quinoa, plus berries for dessert, or fatty fish or tofu with brown rice and vegetables with olive oil.
The Morning Of
Think through your choreography: "Right when you wake up, keeping your eyes closed, visualize how the performance will go from start to finish. Really concentrate on the details—the arm movements, the direction you are going to focus your eyes onstage and the tilt of your head," says Justin Sherwood, an adjunct professor at Marymount Manhattan College and a Youth America Grand Prix coach.
Don't skimp on hydration or snacks: Lucas says dancers should aim for two cups of water in the morning and sips of water throughout the day, at least every 20 minutes. Begin with a filling, balanced breakfast, and then get strategic about what to eat and when. "Eat smaller meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid stomach distress, but keep satiated and energized," says Lucas. Make sure to eat something within 30 minutes after any rehearsals or classes for proper recovery. Your snacks should always contain protein and fat—a snack of only simple carbohydrates, which are quickly digested, will leave you feeling tired again shortly afterward.
Warm up gently: Seguia suggests starting show day by warming up the areas of your body that will need to be most active for dancing, especially your core, hips and ankles. Planks, bridges and bigger movements like squats and lunges are all good choices, but take it easier than you would if you were doing a full workout. A smart dynamic exercise to warm up your hips in the morning is banded squats: Place a resistance loop around your legs above the knees. With feet hip width apart, squat as low as you can while maintaining a neutral spine and your knees over your toes. Repeat for two sets of five to eight repetitions.
Jayme Thonton for Pointe
Eat early: To stay energized, eat anywhere between one and four hours before a performance, says Lucas. Have enough that you will not be hungry too close to showtime, since eating right before could lead to an upset stomach.
Strategically focus your warm-up: Think about the material you are about to perform: Does it require fast changes of direction? Is it more slow and sustained? Sherwood says this should determine what you focus on in class as you are warming up. He also suggests marking through the performance onstage if possible, to keep up your confidence without wearing yourself out. Before going on, Seguia recommends repeating your warm-up exercises from the morning to keep your body and your brain primed to move
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.
A recent trip I took to Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
Despite what you might think, there's no reason for dancers to be afraid of bread.
"It's looked at as this evil food," says New York State–certified dietitian and former dancer Tiffany Mendell. But the truth is, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, bread can be a healthy source of carbohydrates—our body's preferred fuel—plus fiber and vitamins.
The key is choosing your loaf wisely.
It can be hard to imagine life without—or just after—dance. Perhaps that's why we find it so fascinating to hear what our favorite dancers think they'd be doing if they weren't performing for a living.
We've been asking stars about the alternate career they'd like to try in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and their answers—from the unexpected to the predictable—do not disappoint:
"New York City Ballet star appears in a Keanu Reeves action movie" is not a sentence we ever thought we'd write. But moviegoers seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be treated to two scenes featuring soloist Unity Phelan dancing choreography by colleague Tiler Peck. The guns-blazing popcorn flick cast Phelan as a ballerina who also happens to be training to become an elite assassin. Opens in theaters May 17.
The Brooklyn-based choreographer Gillian Walsh is both obsessed with and deeply conflicted about dance. With her latest work, Fame Notions, May 17–19 at Performance Space New York, she seeks to understand what she calls the "fundamentally pessimistic or alienating pursuit" of being a dancer. Noting that the piece is "quiet and introverted," like much of her other work, she sees Fame Notions as one step in a larger project examining why dancers dance.
What does Mikhail Baryshnikov have to say to dancers starting their careers today? On Friday, he gave the keynote speech during the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
The heart of his message: Be generous.