Maya Barad's blog

I’ve always told myself that when my ankle swells, that's just my body attempting to heal itself. I'm not completely wrong: Inflammation—and the swelling, heat, pain and redness that comes with it—is our body’s first response to injury. However, sometimes this attempt to destroy the damaged tissue goes a little too far and our body starts attacking healthy tissue, too. That's where anti-inflammatory medications come in, preventing the negative consequences of inflammation. The only problem?

Few topics in the dance world are more fraught than motherhood. No, we’re not talking about the dragon mothers on “Dance Moms,” but the challenges of balancing pregnancy and parenting with the physical demands of dance. Not only do artists struggle when pregnancy changes their dancer bodies, but the stress and schedule of performing and touring aren’t always compatible with parenthood.

 

I’ve always been ashamed to admit that I try harder in class when I know the teacher is looking at me. I also elevate my arabesque higher when I'm standing next to the girl with great extension. While I realize competition is part of our human nature, I wish I could push myself on my own. Now, there's a new (free!) app, Proof!, that helps you accomplish your goals by adding a little friendly virtual competition. Through the app, you set up personalized goals and share them with friends or family.

The monthly cycle of blues and bloating before your period can make dancing feel infinitely more difficult. But there's good news: A recent study from the University of Massachusetts shows that simply adjusting your diet can reduce PMS symptoms. The researchers followed 3,000 women over 10 years, assessing physical and emotional PMS symptoms as well as diet. The results showed that a high intake of iron decreased PMS symptoms. The type of iron that works best is found in plants and supplements, not in meat.

Ballet dancers are no strangers to aches and pains. Because we know our bodies so well, we sometimes fall into the dangerous habit of self-diagnosing. A new free app, HealthTap, lets us refer our health questions to knowledgeable physicians. Over 32,000 licensed medical professionals weigh in on all sorts of questions to help spread much-needed accurate medical knowledge. Dancers have already started to take advantage of the application, asking questions about bunions, foot spasms and toenail bruising.

Exciting things are happening down under: To commemorate Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 60th anniversary, the company is teaming up with local fashion designer Tamsin Cooper to create a new ballet-inspired fashion line. Cooper’s collection, based on “Swan Lake” (which the RNZB will perform in July), will feature tutu-like skirts, jackets, coats and bags—in only black and white, of course. The items will be unveiled next month as part of New Zealand’s iD Dunedin Fashion Week.

The first season of "Bunheads" closed its curtains this week with the finale episode, optimistically titled "Next." A rambling bildungsroman, the show is essentially a choreography of stories about dancers at all ages following their dreams and facing reality. Michelle wakes up with a gorgeous Godot and courageously sets out for Los Angeles to audition for a part in a musical. Even though the audition is a sham, Michelle’s performances earn her the admiration of her bunheads.

This week’s episode of Bunheads is all about men and women, sex, love and marriage. The only dance scene features modern choreography in miners' hats, dancing in the dark with headlights. Even though the paucity of dance is disappointing, the episode makes up for it with a choreography of flirtation and independence set in the dance studio when it becomes the evacuation center for Paradise during a fire. After finding a condom under the girls’ lockers, Michelle worries that her bunheads are having sex, and makes the boys move their cots away from the girls.

Sir Anthony Dowell, principal dancer at The Royal Ballet from 1966 to 1984 and director of the company from 1986 to 2001, celebrates his 70th birthday this Saturday, February 16th.

When Diablo Ballet of California announced its new “Web Ballet” in January, nobody knew quite what to think. The company asked its fans to help choreograph the ballet, requesting Tweeted suggestions for the emotion of the dancers, the mood of the piece and even specific steps. Voters also chose their favorite of three music options.