Ballet Training
Oregon Ballet Theatre's Kelsie Nobriga and Matthew Pawlicki-Sinclair rehearse Bournonville's Napoli. Yu Yin, Courtesy OBT.

Kelsie Nobriga's first run-through of Nacho Duato's Rassemblement was a wake-up call. Until then, the Oregon Ballet Theatre soloist had only rehearsed individual sections of the ballet, unaware that she'd have little time to recover in between each one. Discovering just how tiring the 27-minute ballet would be was terrifying. "The first time we ran it I felt like I was going to pass out or throw up," she recalls. "My quads would just give out. I was really nervous about how I was going to perform it onstage."

When you're gasping for breath, not only do the simplest steps feel impossible, but your risk of injury also increases. Stamina is a crucial part of a dancer's performance tool kit, though typical ballet classes don't do much to develop it. With some advance planning outside the studio, you can build up your cardiovascular and muscular endurance to make a marathon ballet less daunting.

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Everything Nutcracker
Atlanta Ballet in Nutcracker. Photo by C. McCullers, Courtesy AB.

Battling sore muscles during a lengthy Nutcracker run? Add these three items to your grocery list for easier recovery between shows.

Eggs

Danielle MacInnes via Unsplash

These protein superstars contain all the essential amino acids, making them helpful for building and repairing muscle.

Health & Body
Pixabay

Supermarkets and salad bars offer an abundance of leafy greens, but which choice is best for dancers? According to Marie Elena Scioscia, a dietitian nutritionist who works with The Ailey School, you don't have to stick with one option—yes, it is okay if you're not obsessed with kale. Each of her top four picks has a variety of nutrients, so change it up, buy a bag of mixed greens or create your own plate at the salad bar. "It's all good," says Scioscia. Stats below are based on the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for featured nutrients. Here's what's worth noting in a two-cup serving of each of these greens.

Kale

Thinkstock

Calcium: 20%

Vitamin A: 412%

Vitamin C: 268%

Vitamin K: 1,365%

Plus: 12% RDA of iron

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Ballet Stars
Photo courtesy of Manzi.

Bee pollen, cacao nibs, flower buds—you might expect to find these items in a gardener's hands, not a dancer's pantry. Yet if you knew New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi, you wouldn't be surprised by this odd ingredient assortment. She's become known among her NYCB peers for her baked goods; all homemade, dairy-free and gluten-free. What began as a critical health need has blossomed into a growing passion project that includes an Instagram feed full of yummy recipes.

Manzi in Balanchine's 'Symphony in C.' Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

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Inside PT

Marianela Nuñez's neatly organized dance bag. Photo by Kyle Froman.

Most dancers have experienced the stress of sifting through a cluttered dance bag to search for just one more bobby pin before class starts. And while that hectic exchange may make you feel less calm during your first plié combination, you probably haven't considered how it could affect your eating habits.

A recent study from Environment and Behavior revealed that being in a chaotic, disorganized environment can make you more likely to reach for unhealthy foods. But being messy doesn't mean you're doomed. It turns out that the mindset you’re in plays a big role in whether or not you actually succumb to unhealthy choices.

For the study, researchers asked a group of female students to spend time in a clean kitchen or a very messy one, and each had to write about either a time when she felt especially in control or a time when she felt out of control. Women in both kitchens were also given snacks: cookies, carrots and crackers.

Of the women who journaled about feeling out of control, the ones in the chaotic kitchen consumed twice as many cookies as the ones in the clean kitchen. But within the messy kitchen, those who wrote about feeling in control ate far fewer cookies.

The results suggest that it's not just about the space you're in: A cluttered kitchen might make you more likely to choose unhealthy snacks, but if you feel relaxed and in control of your situation, you may not give in to that urge.

So if you know a messy space stresses you out, try to make your dance bag as organized as possible, and keep your room neat so you aren’t scrambling to find a clean pair of tights in the morning. And for those inevitable crazy rehearsal weeks when you can't be as organized as you'd like, see where else in your life you can reduce stress. It may help you stick to your healthy eating habits even in the midst of chaos.

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