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
Photo via Pixabay

Summer is supposed to be carefree and fun, but for dancers, the season often marks a transition out of your regular routine and into a new environment. While it's undoubtedly exciting, the summertime shake-up may also trigger feelings of stress and anxiety. We've gathered six of our best tips to help you adjust—and deal with anxiety—whether you're heading to an intensive, on leave for the summer or performing on tour.

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Jessica Lewis via Unsplash

As winter's chill sets in, you may be tempted to fill up on comfort foods like chicken pot pie, meatloaf or cheeseburgers. Though it's okay to indulge occasionally, new research from Ohio State University says you should pay attention to when you eat heavy, high-fat meals.

In the recent study, a group of female participants ate an identical meal of biscuits and gravy, turkey sausage and eggs for a total of 930 calories and 60 grams of fat. They were monitored for seven hours after eating, and the women who reported being stressed the previous evening burned an average of 104 calories less than the women who didn't have any stressors.

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Pixabay

I've been really stressed out lately, which makes me tend to overeat. I've put on weight and feel really self-conscious about my dancing. Is this something I should talk to my school director about? —Leah

First, take comfort in the fact that it's totally normal for our emotions to affect how we eat, just as they affect our sleep. I've certainly packed away a box of cookies during my lowest moments, while I've had friends who completely lose their appetite. Talking about it with someone can help give you some perspective. Family, relationship and dance pressures could all be contributing factors. But the body-image pressures of the dance world can make it a pretty uncomfortable topic. “It's important to find someone you really trust who will keep your conversation confidential," says Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with Atlanta Ballet dancers. “If that's your director, fine. If you're closer to one of your teachers, that might be easier." Because dance could very well be the root of your stress, she also recommends that you talk to someone outside of the studio, such as a guidance counselor, family member or close friend.

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