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.

Ballet Stars
Lauren Lovette. Quinn Wharton.

New York City Ballet principal Lauren Lovette tries hard to focus on wellness despite her busy schedule. Her Hydro Flask water bottle—a gift from colleague Indiana Woodward—is emblazoned with the words "Be Here Now," a daily reminder to stay present. Lovette also keeps two doTERRA essential oils in her bag, and starts each day with Citrus Bliss. "I put it on my wrist at barre, and smell it," she says. "It just keeps me in a positive mood." Another scent, Balance, is reserved for days when she's feeling particularly frazzled.

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Sponsored by The Rock School
From left: Sarah Lapointe, Derek Dunn and Jeanette Kakareka. Courtesy The Rock School

For more than five decades, The Rock School for Dance Education has been launching young dancers into professional ballet careers around the globe. Boasting distinguished alumni such as Beckanne Sisk, Michaela DePrince and Taylor Stanley, the Philadelphia-based institution has garnered a well-deserved reputation for pairing rigorous training with a tight-knit, welcoming community. Their summer intensives are no different, with a wealth of prestigious faculty members, many of whom are Rock School alums currently dancing at companies around the world.

What inspires busy pros to keep returning to their alma mater? We talked to three of The Rock School's buzziest alums about why they make it a priority to come back and teach:

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Ballet Careers
Roderick Phifer in Trey McIntyre's The Boogeyman . Bill Hebert, Courtesy BalletX.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Roderick Phifer graduated from University of the Arts with a BFA in dance in 2017.

While walking out of a technique class during the first semester of his senior year at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, Roderick Phifer was approached with an unexpected offer. BalletX needed a guest artist for an upcoming performance, and after seeing Phifer perform in one of his senior shows, a UArts alumnus dancing with the company had offered up his name. Phifer ran straight from his technique class to a company class with BalletX, and the troupe's artistic leadership quickly gave him the green light to perform. "It was so last-minute, that, I kid you not, I had three rehearsals," he says. He performed with BalletX as a guest artist that fall, auditioned for an open company position in the spring and had a contract by the end of his senior year.

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Courtesy Apolla

Ballet dancers today are asked to do more with their bodies than ever before. The physical demands of a ballet career can take an immense toll on a dancer's joints and muscles—subjecting them to pain, inflammation and an increased risk of injury. Considering all that is required of today's dancers, having a top-notch recovery regime is paramount.

Enter Apolla Performance Wear, which is meeting ballet's physical demands with a line of compression footwear that is speeding up the recovery process for professional dancers by reducing inflammation and stabilizing the joints.

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