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Start the School Year Off Right With These Back-to-Class Tips

Though we wish summer could last forever, the weather's getting cooler and that back-to-school feel is in the air. Handling the delicate balance between academics and dance can be hard, particularly when coupled with the fear of slipping into bad habits and old routines. We're here to help you head into the year as your strongest, healthiest, most confident self.


Reinvigorate Your Technique

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What's the start of a new year for if not a chance to step your technique up to the next level? First off, set your goals for the year, and follow these tips on how to reach them. Next, follow this advice to eradicate common bad habits that could be holding you back. You may also want to refresh your approach to corrections. Hearing the same imagery from instructors again and again on the perfect pirouette or aligned arabesque can start to lose its meaning. Try these new approaches from expert teachers.

Say Goodbye to Jealousy

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It can be hard to be back in the studio when your peers are chatting about the amazing opportunities they had at their summer intensives and showing off their new tricks, but it's important to block out jealousy, rise above and realize that it can chip away at your self-esteem and feed immature behavior. Try following these tips to push back against the dreaded green monster.

Eat Well from the Start

Don't wait until you start to feel weak or sick to get your eating on track. Keep your dance bag stocked with healthy treats like this three-part trail mix of dry cereal, nuts and dried fruit, and make sure that you're drinking enough water. Tired of the taste? Add some berries or cucumber to vary the flavor. Keep your immune system strong by stocking your diet with a variety of foods high in iron. To build healthy bones (an especially important factor for young female dancers), look to this list of foods to ensure you're getting the nutrients you need.

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

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Between homework, rehearsals, chores, meals and class, sleep often feels last on the list. But getting enough zzz's is crucial to warding off anxiety, keeping your immune system healthy and staying strong enough to get through a busy day. One study even shows that getting enough sleep can help to ward off unwanted negative thoughts throughout the day. Who would say no to that?

Keep Anxiety at Bay

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Transitions make it easy for anxieties to creep in, so in addition to maintaining physical wellbeing it's important to develop "good emotional hygiene" by creating balance in your life; try hobbies outside of dance, journal or make time to unwind with friends.

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Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

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