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Be Iron Clad: Why This Mineral Is a Must for Dancers

For on-the-go dancers, iron is a must. Without enough of the mineral, it can lead to fatigue and a lowered immune function. That's why stocking your fridge with iron-rich foods is so important.


But it doesn't stop there. You should also make sure that other healthy habits, like drinking tea, aren't hampering your body's ability to absorb iron. According to research from the journal Food Science and Nutrition, micronutrients in tea, known as polyphenols, have been shown to limit iron absorption to a certain extent. However, Emily C. Harrison, a dietitian at Atlanta Ballet's Centre for Dance Nutrition, says that there are some dietary strategies that can improve iron absorption in healthy, tea-drinking dancers. Here are her top nutritional tips:

1. Stock your diet with a variety of foods high in iron, like beans, peas, leafy greens, chia seeds and meat, if you eat it. Vitamin C helps absorb iron from plant sources, so pair the two into the same meal or snack. Harrison recommends kale and red peppers gently sautéed in olive oil, with a squeeze of lemon juice as a dressing, or spinach and black bean tacos with fresh lime juice and cilantro.

Bowl of oatmeal with apples on a linen placemat. Next to it is a cup of tea and another bowl with chia pudding and an apple.

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2. Foods fortified with iron are also great choices. Try oatmeal, dry cereal and pasta made from red lentils or black beans.

3. Dancers drinking less than three cups of tea daily and eating iron-rich foods are at a lower risk for iron deficiency.

4. If a dancer is anemic, one to two cups of tea per day is still permissible, though they'll need to increase their intake of foods high in iron and possibly take a low-dose iron supplement, less than 18 milligrams. If anemia continues despite a dancer's iron-rich diet, consult a doctor to rule out other possible problems.

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Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

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