Hard-boiled eggs can be a great pre-performance snack. Getty Images.

Ask Amy: What Are the Best Pre-Performance Snacks?

What kinds of foods should I eat for sustained energy? I don't want to be weighed down, but I can't dance when I'm hungry, either. —Cecilia


It's a tricky balance: Dancing while hungry can cause you to grow light-headed and become easily fatigued, while dancing after a heavy meal can leave your stomach feeling crampy and uncomfortable. The key is nutritionally balanced, well-timed eating habits.

"Snacks are going to be your savior," says Peggy Otto Swistak, registered dietitian with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Your dance bag should be well stocked: "You have to plan ahead of time," she says, "and make it a habit."

For sustained energy, the best meals are those that combine carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat. "They all work in conjunction with each other," Swistak says. Your muscles use carbohydrates for immediate energy, while protein and fat digest more slowly and curb hunger. A snack that only contains carbs will leave you hungry after 30–45 minutes, while overloading on protein and fat will give you that sluggish feeling. "You don't want to eat a lot of soluble fiber just before you dance, either," Swistak says. "That's what makes you feel bloated." Some great balanced snack ideas include trail mix with nuts, cereal and a little dark chocolate; a hard-boiled egg and baggie of pretzels; cheese and crackers; and veggies with hummus.

Balancing your meals should also factor into dinnertime. "While you sleep, your muscles turn carbohydrates into glycogen," Swistak says. "That's your energy for the next day."

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

Latest Posts


Pacific Northwest Ballet's Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan, photographed by Jayme Thornton for Pointe

The Radiant Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan: Why She's One to Watch at Pacific Northwest Ballet

Hollywood could make a movie about Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan's big break at Pacific Northwest Ballet.

It was November 2017, and the company was performing Crystal Pite's film-noir–inspired Plot Point, set to music by Bernard Hermann from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Ryan, then a first-year corps member, originally was understudying the role of another dancer. But when principal Noelani Pantastico was injured in a car accident, Ryan was tapped to take over her role.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Lauren Veyette corrects a student during class. Ariel Rose, Courtesy Veyette Virtual Ballet School.

COVID-19 Has Made It Easier to Train Outside Your Studio—but Should You?

Of all the unprecedented effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the dance world, perhaps the most unthinkable a year ago was the forced pivot to online training. With many studios mandated to close, we've outfitted our homes with barres and marley and harnessed technology to create more learning opportunities than ever before. And now, as some studios reopen for in-person classes (either fully or in hybrid form) and others remain online, it's easier to supplement your school's offerings by adding virtual master classes—or even going to another school for in-studio time. But while being able to take class from anyone, anywhere, offers great opportunities, there are pitfalls to jumping from teacher to teacher. It's important to balance out the pros and cons of creating your own "COVID curriculum."

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Daniil Simkin gives advice during his master class series. Courtesy Dance Masterclass.

In This Master Class Series, Stars Like Daniil Simkin Share Their Technique and Artistry Secrets

Have you ever wondered what Daniil Simkin thinks about when he whips off a series of effortless pirouettes? Or how Polina Semionova initiates her "swan arms" when she dances Odette/Odile? Both dancers are now part of a new streaming platform called Dance-Masterclass, which offers targeted lessons from the ballet world's biggest stars to dancers of all levels. Launched in February, the platform presents 10 to 12-plus gorgeously filmed lessons from a new master teacher each month, with options allowing for private feedback.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks