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My bun is such a disaster in rehearsals that when I finish dancing, my hair is in my face. Please help! —Marcela

A secure bun isn’t just born that way—it needs a little help from the right tools, hair products and styling techniques. First, use a spray bottle to dampen your hair with water. Then, you may want to rub a little gel or hair paste in so that your hair brushes back easily (my favorite is KMS Hair Play molding paste, available at most drugstores). Use a flat brush with lots of softer bristles to help smooth your hair into a ponytail. When it comes to hair elastics, the thicker, metal-free versions tend to hold ponytails more firmly in place—otherwise try doubling up two thin ones.

Once your ponytail is finished, it may seem logical to wind your hair tightly around its base; but a tiny, ball-shaped knot is actually harder to pin firmly in place. It’s better to loosely twist the hair around to make more of a flat shape. I sometimes use my fingers to lightly backcomb my ponytail, which helps make my fine, thin hair less slippery to pin in. If you need extra help holding the bun’s shape, try winding a hairnet around it before you pin it. Then, make sure you have the right type of pin—you want U-shaped hairpins, not flat bobby pins, which don’t hold large amounts of hair as well and tend to pop out. Catch the edge of your bun with the prongs going away from the center, then twist the pin and push it down into the bun (you’ll want to feel the pin against your head, although it shouldn’t dig into it). Hairspray and bobby pin any flyaways, and give your head a good shake. If you feel your bun sliding around, you may need to start over.

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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Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

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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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