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 Training
Michelle Martin with a Ballet Austin Academy student. Anne Marie Bloodgood, Courtesy Ballet Austin.

Michelle Martin, associate artistic director of Ballet Austin, says that pirouettes en dehors from fourth position allongé are full of "traps" for dancers. Whether you trained with a straight back leg or have never tried it before, Martin's analytical breakdown will help you master this basic but dazzling turn.

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Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Ballet Training
Kali Kleiman performing at YAGP's New York Finals. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

As someone who has judged many ballet competitions, I've had the opportunity to see some breathtaking contemporary solos that combine fantastic technique with well-conceived choreography. Yet it's often hard for us judges to see the artistic intention behind these solos the way we can when watching a classical variation. For one thing, we're simply more familiar with classical ballet's repertoire and characters. But also, when a contemporary solo is just a string of one trick after another, or only delivers one emotion (such as overwrought angst), we don't get to see any artistic depth.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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