Summer is supposed to be carefree and fun, but for dancers, the season often marks a transition out of your regular routine and into a new environment. While it's undoubtedly exciting, the summertime shake-up may also trigger feelings of stress and anxiety. We've gathered six of our best tips to help you adjust—and deal with anxiety—whether you're heading to an intensive, on leave for the summer or performing on tour.


Get your mind off of ballet.

Maintaining hobbies outside of dance and taking time to unwind with friends can help you relax. Dr. Brian Goonan, a psychologist who works with dancers at Houston Ballet, refers to this as having "good emotional hygiene." If anxiety is getting to you, try taking a walk, going swimming or reading in the sun.

Practice visualization and breathing techniques.

Are you nervous for a performance, audition or to be away from home? Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with dancers at Atlanta Ballet, suggests that you "imagine the situation making you anxious, and picture handling it well." Taking deep breaths will also help slow a racing heart.

Try peppermint.

Though it might not seem like much, this "powerhouse herb" has been known to help calm anxiety. Inhaling its vapors may also improve athletic performance and increase focus. Try drinking a cup of peppermint tea during an afternoon break or before bed, or spritz some peppermint essential oil on your pillow for a more restful night.

Speaking of sleep...

Getting enough zzz's is crucial to warding off unwelcome anxious thoughts. Disrupted sleep can compromise the immune system and reduce healing. Plus, one study shows that people who go to bed later and sleep fewer hours tend to have more negative thoughts during the day than those who have a healthier sleep schedule. Just because the sun goes down later during the summer doesn't mean you have to change your routine. Prioritize sleep and you may find that you're more productive and positive throughout the day.

Limit time on social media.

If your friends are scattered for the summer, watching their lives unfold on Instagram and Facebook can bring up feelings of jealousy and loneliness. Research has shown that using social media actively, such as posting a shot of you and your fellow dancers backstage, is more beneficial than than scrolling through your Instagram feed wondering if everyone's summer is better than yours. Plus, if you're checking social media more frequently during the day, you're also likely to have trouble sleeping.

Take to the page.

If you feel like your thoughts are overwhelming you, try writing them down. Journaling has been found to increase self-esteem, and it might be fun to have the memories of your summer adventures to reflect on later.

Ballet Stars

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Ballet Careers
Ali Cameron, Courtesy Queensland Ballet

An artistic director's position was far from Li Cunxin's mind when the Brisbane-based Queensland Ballet came calling in 2012. Since his retirement from the stage in 1999, the Chinese-Australian dancer had embarked on a highly successful career at the helm of a stockbroking firm. His wife, former dancer and current Queensland ballet mistress Mary McKendry Li, changed his mind, Li remembers. "She said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to give something back to the art form that we both have benefited so much from?' "

Seven years later, Li's contribution has been dramatic. Queensland Ballet, once a struggling choreographer-led company, has become one of Australia's most exciting repertoire ensembles, with Liam Scarlett on board as artistic associate. The budget has more than quadrupled, to over $20 million USD, and Li has launched not one but three major construction projects, with world-class headquarters, a theater and a new academy all in progress.

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News
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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