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Our Best Tips for a Stress-Free Summer

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.

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Take Class From Celebrated Black Dancers and Raise Money for the NAACP Through Dance for Change

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Organized by Diamante Ballet Dancewear's founder, Nashville Ballet 2 dancer Isichel Perez, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre teacher Elise Gillum, Dance for Change makes it easy to participate. Dancers need only to make a donation to the NAACP (in any amount) and email proof to diamante.ballet@gmail.com to be given online access to a full schedule of Zoom master classes taught by Black pros artists. Teachers include Ballet Memphis' George Sanders, Boston Ballet's Daniel Durrett, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Corey Bourbonniere, and more. "It's important that we amplify BIPOC voices during this time, and it's also important that we're conscious of where we're putting our dollars," says Bourbonniere. "Diamante is doing both with Dance for Change, and I'm honored to be in this talented group of melanated dancers."

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Sydney Dolan Takes Center Stage at Pennsylvania Ballet

This is Pointe's Summer 2020 cover story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

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SAB Student Founds Dancewear Nonprofit to Help Others in Need

When School of American Ballet student Alexandra de Roos was 8 years old, she placed a collection box at her dance studio for others to donate their gently used dancewear. De Roos, now 17, has since turned that single collection box into a nonprofit organization that aims to minimize economic barriers in the performing arts with free dancewear and classes.

De Roos' organization, Peace Love Leotards, has collected about $2,600 of new and gently-used dancewear and $2,000 in grants and donations since formally launching in April. Dancers or studio owners can request items through a form on the organization's website.

"I knew that dancewear was really expensive and that a lot of students might not be able to do the thing that they love because it's cost-prohibitive," de Roos said. "I really wanted to create something to allow people to have the same experience of the love and joy of dance that I've been so grateful to have."

After SAB shifted its winter term online amid the COVID-19 pandemic, de Roos decided to expand Peace Love Leotards. She reached out to dance companies, resulting in partnerships with brands including Jo+Jax, Lone Reed Designs, RubiaWear and Wear Moi.

"To have them be like 'We want to help you with this and we love this idea and what you're doing is amazing,' that was really exciting to me," she said. "It was very heartwarming."

Jordan Reed, the creator of custom dancewear brand Lone Reed Designs, said she has donated seven items to Peace Love Leotards with plans to donate more consistently every quarter. Custom leotards often retail at higher prices, but Reed, a former Houston Ballet corps member, said the one-of-a-kind clothing offers an "extra bit of confidence, which can go more than a long way in a dancer's journey of training."

Paul Plesh, a sales director for Wear Moi in the United States and Canada, said the company donated 11 leotards after finding Peace Love Leotards' mission to be "commendable." Joey Dowling-Fakhrieh, the founder and creative director of Jo+Jax, said dancewear "can make a significant impact on a student's confidence, as well as how much they enjoy the process of learning dance."

De Roos has worked to expand Peace Love Leotards, Inc. rapidly in the past few months, but she first created the organization at eight years old after participating in a mentorship program with competitors in the Miss Florida and Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen pageants. The pageants, which are part of the Miss America Organization, require competitors to have personal platforms they advocate for as titleholders. As a competition dancer, de Roos instantly thought about the cost barriers to dance when wondering what her own future platform would be.

De Roos said she and her young classmates often outgrew nearly brand-new dancewear, so she approached her studio's owner about placing a collection box at the studio.

Barbara Mizell, who owns Barbara's Centré for Dance in Florida, said she was unsurprised by de Roos' proposal. De Roos always had "such a way of pushing herself and she never forgot those around her," Mizell said. As the box filled up, she distributed the dancewear to others at the studio, local schools with dance programs, and the local YMCA.

"When they could start to see that it was providing happiness for others, then it was almost like the kids couldn't wait to donate," Mizell said.

Nearly a decade after the Miss Florida organization inspired her to launch Peace Love Leotards, de Roos is now a titleholder herself, as Miss Gainesville's Outstanding Teen 2020. Her new mission for Peace Love Leotards is applying for grants, and she has already received a $1,000 grant from the Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund that will be used to fund a Title 1 school class.

"The whole organization behind Peace Love Leotards is the dancers," de Roos said. "Being able to help the dancers that are in need and being able to think about the dancewear that they're going to be receiving or have received has been truly amazing."

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