Ballet Careers
Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

The curtain falls, the costumes are packed away. Dancers say good-bye to the choreography, the adrenaline rush of being onstage and the special camaraderie of performing together. "You put your heart and soul into a show and then you're like, 'That's it?' " says Miami City Ballet principal Jeanette Delgado. "You hope you'll get to dance that piece again, but you can't know for sure."

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Ballet Training
Getty Images

Though we wish summer could last forever, the weather's getting cooler and that back-to-school feel is in the air. Handling the delicate balance between academics and dance can be hard, particularly when coupled with the fear of slipping into bad habits and old routines. We're here to help you head into the year as your strongest, healthiest, most confident self.

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Summer Intensive Survival
Photo by Natalia Figueredo via Unsplash

The summer I turned 16, my head swirled with "what ifs" as I counted down the days until the start of the Chautauqua intensive. I'd attended the program four years earlier, and the experience had been a harrowing one—my first lesson in the competitive nature of ballet. Leaving the temperate waters of my little pond, I'd found myself a very small, uncoordinated fish in a pool deep with talent. Now, I was going back to test myself again, this time in Chautauqua's top level. Would I be as good as the other dancers? Would the teachers like me? Would I make friends?

Summer intensives are aptly titled. Their extreme demands can cause anxiety, nerves, jealousy and stress. But put down the question marks! Don't let a negative state of mind keep you from soaking up everything your summer has to offer.

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Health & Body

Lying awake in her hotel bed in Washington, DC, the night before her audition, Richmond Ballet dancer Valerie Tellmann-Henning was tormented with anxiety. At 31 years old, she was comfortable in her career. So comfortable that she decided to seek new artistic challenges. With the support of her director, she decided to audition for The Suzanne Farrell Ballet with the hope of juggling two contracts. The only thing that stood between her and her goal was a bout of anxiety. "I felt like I was 19 again trying to get my first job," she remembers. "It made me second-guess a lot of things about myself: Is Suzanne going to like my body type? Will my legs be high enough?" The anxious feeling made Tellmann-Henning irritable, and she even found herself holding her breath during the audition class, as a stream of insecurities cycled through her mind.

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Matthew Henry via Burst
As a dancer, you're taught to carefully listen to your body so you can notice the early signs of injury and recognize when it's a bad idea to push through the pain. But paying attention to your thoughts and attitude is equally important to your well-being, and according to a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, it may play a role in injury prevention.
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Christin Hume via Unsplash

Ballet dancers are sensory experts: hearing the nuances of music, adjusting their eyes under harsh stage lighting, feeling their feet working against the floor and negotiating the touch of a partner's hand. But have you considered how your sense of smell might help your dancing? Research shows that certain scents evoke different psychological reactions. Applying scented lotion or giving yourself a spritz of perfume just might help you take your dance game to the next level.

Lavender

Vero Photoart via Unsplash

To calm pre-audition nerves, try lavender. Studies show it can lower stress hormones.

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