Your Best Body

Looking for creative and healthy ways to get your pumpkin fix this fall? First, back away from the pumpkin-spiced latte—the season's unofficial drink is often laced with sugary syrup and comes with a complimentary mid-rehearsal crash. Instead, try these simple snacks with puréed pumpkin. It's high in beta-carotene, which converts to immunity-boosting vitamin A, and is a good source of vitamin K, iron and fiber. You can buy it canned or make the purée from a "sugar" or "pie" pumpkin (they're commonly available at grocery stores or farm markets).

Fruit-and-Spice Toast

- Spread purée onto whole-grain toast.

- Top with sliced pear.

- Add a dash of cinnamon.

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Pointe Stars
Lauren Fadeley in Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht Ballet. Photo by Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy Miami City Ballet.

Miami City Ballet principal soloist Lauren Fadeley uses company class, her home gym and the beach to stay strong.

Amped-up class: Now in her second season with Miami City Ballet, Lauren Fadeley has found new challenges in company class. "It's more intense and aerobic than I'm used to," she says. Her approach: It's not a casual warm-up but a daily opportunity to practice everything correctly, so it's automatic onstage.

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Your Best Body
Pixabay

The next time your teacher makes the class repeat a petit allégro combination endlessly, don't groan. Aside from improving your footwork and ballon, you may notice that you eat healthier after class.

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Your Best Body
Thinkstock

You're probably used to jotting down rehearsal notes and corrections, but according to research from the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center, you may want to save room in your journal for these exercises, too. The writing prompts were designed to boost your well-being by focusing on the positive.

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Your Best Body
Paris Opéra Ballet's Letizia Galloni. Photo by Benoîte Fanton, Courtesy POB.

A beautifully winged foot is the perfect complement to an arabesque line. But according to Marika Molnar, president and founder of Westside Dance Physical Therapy, learning how—and when—to wing requires subtle work and an understanding of the leg's alignment.

Often, she sees dancers winging before, not after, they point their ankle, foot and toes. Instead, the wing should be the final touch. "If you follow the line of the middle of your thigh through the middle of your kneecap down through the middle of your shin, that line should come out where your second toe is," says Molnar. Then you can slightly wing your foot while maintaining that alignment.

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Your Best Body
NYCB principal Adrian Danchig-Waring in rehearsal. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

Cross-training to heal: Since 2010, principal dancer Adrian Danchig-Waring has dealt with flare-ups of painful stress fractures in his shins. When we spoke, he was working on healing those "dreaded black lines," substituting physical therapy, cardio and strength work for his usual dance-heavy schedule with New York City Ballet.

Pool time: Unable to participate in company class or bear much weight, Danchig-Waring has taken up swimming for 30 to 60 minutes daily. "It's become sort of my new passion," he says. He likes the sport for its no-impact, high-cardio nature and often follows lap workouts from a training website called goswim.tv. He cycles through various strokes, like freestyle, crawl and backstroke, to condition different muscles in his arms and shoulders.

Strength in numbers: Danchig-Waring takes a group fitness class, typically Pilates, after each swim. At first, he was surprised by how much he enjoyed the atmosphere. "But then I realized my whole life as a ballet dancer has been group fitness. There's this healthy sense of competition and collective energy that motivates, and it helps to push yourself further."

Off-his-feet footwork: Pilates mat work is especially perfect for him since most of the class is done lying down or on all fours. This allows Danchig-Waring to articulate his feet through demi- and full pointe in non–weight-bearing exercises, like the single-leg stretch and criss-cross. "Foot strength is such an essential part of this rehabilitation," he says.

Retraining the body and mind: Danchig-Waring works with a physical therapist twice a week on what he calls "neurologic reconditioning." He's coached through basic exercises, like sitting on the edge of a bench and slowly rising to relevé in parallel while holding a tennis ball between his ankles. Though the movements aren't complex, it's a mental challenge. "I focus on firing specific muscle groups that are otherwise resistant to working." The aim is to relieve some of the burden from his shins and toes and instead rely more on his glutes and abductors for stability.

Discovery zone: Inspired by his injuries, Danchig-Waring is on a mission to better understand ballet's mechanics—in the past, he even took a kinesiology lab at New York University. Despite being a principal dancer, he says, "I feel like a total novice when it comes to how the body is designed to move." Ballet is about so much more than forcing the body into beautiful shapes, he says, so now he's learning to dance in a way that's healthier and more sustainable.

Pointe Stars
Sara Murawski in promotional footage for American National Ballet

Back in May, we shared that a brand-new ballet company, called American National Ballet, was launching in Charleston, South Carolina. Naturally, we were intrigued, but there was little information—no repertoire, and only one confirmed dancer. (That's principal Sara Murawski, who previously danced with Pennsylvania Ballet and is prominently featured in ANB's marketing.)

Now the company has listed a huge name on its website for the troupe's artistic director: Rasta Thomas. Okay, we're really listening.

Thomas is perhaps best known for directing the pyrotechnic Bad Boys of Dance, which flaunted a high-adrenaline touring show. Called Rock the Ballet, it featured flashy, crowd-pleasing choreography set to pop music. Thomas made a name for himself early on, though, winning the USA International Ballet Competition at 16. He also enjoyed a career of guesting with companies around the world, including the Mariinsky Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Víctor Ullate Ballet.

Octavio Martin, who danced with the National Ballet of Cuba and Sarasota Ballet, is currently listed as ANB's second company artistic director.

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Training
Students in class at the Kirov Academy of Ballet. Photo by Paolo Galli, Courtesy Kirov Academy

It's August, so two things are pretty much guaranteed: 1. It's really hot out. 2. If you're a bunhead, you're nearing the end of your summer intensive.

By now, you've gotten used to the early morning alarm, followed by the inevitable reminder that your muscles are (still) sore as you roll of out bed. But the excitement of arriving at an enticing training destination full of challenging instructors and fellow dancers may have faded. What's left is the hard work in the studio from dawn till dusk.

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