Health & Body
David Sager via Unsplash

You spend countless hours in fifth position. But there's another position you might be just as familiar with: neck craned down, shoulders hunched and eyes on your phone. Researchers estimate that the average person spends two to four hours per day on smart devices, and this slumped posture can place up to 60 pounds of pressure on your spine.

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Ballet Careers
Cathryn Lavery via Unsplash

Some days, your to-do list might seem like it's a mile long: On top of your dance commitments, do you really have time to sew new pointe shoes, squeeze in cross-training, tweak your resumé for audition season, meal-prep and clean your apartment? Trying to stuff too many things into one day can only leave you frustrated when every item doesn't get crossed off.

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Health & Body
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Nicole Kennedy of Marymount Manhattan College

We get it: Ballet is exhausting, and sometimes all you want to do during a quick break between rehearsals is, well, nothing. Bill Evans, director of the Evans Somatic Dance Institute, recommends the following options, which are both relaxing and recuperative for the stresses dance puts on your body. From energizing restorative poses to deep breathing, here are five ways to make your downtime work for you.

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Ballet Stars
Unity Phelan in Jerome Robbins' Antique Epigraphs. Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

The NYCB soloist started strength-training to improve her ballet technique and found a second passion.

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Trending
Photos by Kyle Froman, modeled by Gwen Vandenhoeck of Ballet Academy East

Throwing your leg onto a barre is one way to stretch your hamstring, but you're cheating yourself out of a full stretch of the muscle, says Jennifer Green, owner of PhysioArts physical therapy clinic in New York City. "You might start stretching the back of the knee and feel it more in the ligaments there," says Green. "But you really want to feel the stretch in the middle of the back of your thigh."

Since ballet dancers ask a lot of their hamstrings, it's important to learn to stretch the area thoroughly and safely. The muscles' main role is to bend the knees (think fondu, passé, développé), but they also assist in extending the hip and eccentrically controlling hip flexion (like stabilizing your standing leg when you penché). Green offers these three stretches that target the muscles' entire range while protecting your knee joints.

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Ballet Stars
Stella Abrera in Romeo and Juliet. John Grigaitis, Courtesy ABT.

This American Ballet Theatre principal has jump training down to a science.

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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
All photos by Jayme Thornton for Pointe, modeled by Payge Lecakes of Manhattan Youth Ballet.

A shallow plié can be frustrating for any dancer. But even if you think you've reached your limit, a deeper, juicier plié may be achievable, says Karen Clippinger, professor at California State University, Long Beach, and author of Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology. "Many dancers can improve the depth of their plié through persistent stretching and careful attention to optimal body alignment," she says. Barring any structural issues that would shorten your plié, such as bone spurs at the front of the ankle, these three exercises will help you access your full range.

You'll need:

  • a 1/2- to 1-inch thick book
  • a Thera-band
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