Isn't it funny how you can be totally confident performing for a full house, but the thought of walking into a summer intensive class where you don't know anyone fills you with nerves? Or maybe you feel fine spending time with your best friend, but you feel anxious when you're with a larger group from your studio.

According to a new study, there's a very easy (and just plain nice) way to reduce social anxiety. Research published in the journal Motivation and Emotion found that acts of kindness can help reduce the avoidant behavior that comes with feeling socially anxious. Anxious people are more likely to avoid social situations because they fear negative outcomes like rejection. In the study, researchers assigned socially anxious college students to one of three groups to test different methods for reducing anxiety over a period of four weeks.

The result? The students who performed acts of kindness, like doing a roommate's dishes or making a donation to a charity, had the most positive results, experiencing lower levels of anxiety and becoming less likely to avoid social situations. Next time you're feeling wary, the solution might be as simple as complimenting the girl next to you at the barre or offering to go over tricky choreography with a fellow dancer. Don't underestimate the power of positive energy.

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During one of Charlotte Nash's first few weeks with Houston Ballet II, she was thrown into a run-through of Balanchine's Theme and Variations. "I had never really understudied before and I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I fell right away and was quickly replaced." For Nash, now a dancer with Festival Ballet Providence, the episode was a tough lesson. "I was mortified, but then I said to myself, 'Okay, I need to figure out how to learn things more quickly.'"

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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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The Joffrey Ballet's Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

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

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Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.

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