I think this diet and the other one amply demonstrate how minor changes are to diet causing significant changes in body design based on results desired and a typical work-out. I think one thing to remember is that 5-10 grams of fats per day need to come directly from healthy sources, i.e. nuts, olive oil and fatty fish. How much you eat and what types of foods you eat are important, but extremely important to these people is when and what you eat, that you do not eat so many carbs on off-days and that you increase serving sizes for more strenuous days instead of number of times per day, and that you give your muscles what they want when they need it. For dancers, this is primarily earlier in the day, with maybe a little increase of each serving on days when you have more work, rehearsals or performances. Protein is used for recovery after class or performances (but not late) and especially in the morning when yesterdays store are depleted. Not consuming too many carbs, or carbs on days off, keeps body fat down until you can get back into the studio to work it off. Frequent meals provide aminos which are necessary for building lean muscle and prevents your body from using muscle fuel, and leads to lean muscle, and less fat. As carbs are critical to building muscle, a dancer who eats fewer carbs, but enough will build lean muscle if she eats the right proportions, and type, at the appropriate times in the day. Fewer fruits, grains, and sugars in the later part of the day will reduce fat levels as well.
Try to keep track of everything you eat normally for a week or two, so that you have a baseline for your caloric and food intake. Project onto this your schedule to see if your meal plan id like either one of these meal plans. Categorize your foods by writing next to each item what type of category it falls into, or if its a different one, like a candy bar, preserve, or to go food.Try to establish whether you control the process of food-making and content 100% of the time and if you do not, try to think about what is in it and whether eating that food again could pose a problem to you and undermine your success. it is nutritious? can you quantify that nutrition? As you see now how the balance of these ingredients is everything, how can you not eat in the dark? If you are eating packaged ice cream for instance, can you substitute that for one containing only certain ingredients, control what is in it, or try another kind, perhaps ices or sorbet? Dairy is not as bad for you as sugar because dairy contains protein, but does also contain sugar. This may be one reason, as stated above, that dancers fat content is so high. They are using the carbs and proteins and storing the sugars as fat. As fat cannot be used for energy because it doesn’t break down easily, the more fat you store, the less lean muscle you will display.
Lets discuss terms a little bit. What do you think a calorie is? It is a standard unit for measuring heat, the heat required to raise one gram of water 1 degree Celsius. (C). A kilocalorie (kcal) is the amount of heat necessary to raise one kilogram (kg) of water 1 degree C. Calorie should actually read kilocalorie. Kcals are the measure of energy provided by food to fuel the body. Exercise or movement, even thinking, generates heat, and for every kcal you ingest you must generate enough heat to raise one kg of water by 1 degree C in order to consume the energy provided by the kcal. If you do not generate enough heat, the kcal is converted to fat. People who are said to have a fast metabolism are simply those whose bodies generate more heat. That is not outside heating or hefty bag pants-that is energy expended. How can a dancer generate more heat? The bodies biochemical processes can be regulated to control your body’s temperature and can be enhanced by nutrition and exercise to make it “hot.” Calories in do not necessarily equal calories out, but there are ways to increase your metabolism as there are foods that are easier to metabolize. It is more the quality of the food than the quantity of it that will comprise good nutrition. The nutrients in food have more to do with weight loss than the amount you consume (or calories). Nutrition involves dietary balance of protein, carbs, and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals.Dancers need to eat nutrient dense foods. Let’s look at fuel sources and exercise.
1) Harder is not necessarily better. All exercise uses energy sources in different ways. Weightlifting and dancing share some similarities as we have already seen. Weightlifting involves short bursts of very high energy. Allegro energy requirements are slightly longer but do not require the intensity of energy required by weightlifting. Running three miles burns the same number of calories as walking 5 miles, but a run is fueled by sugar stores (that get up and go) and walking is fueled by fat stores. Hence a run will tire you out, while a similar walk will burn fat and leave you feeling energized. Physiology is complicated. Phosphorus, glucose and fat are the main sources of energy in the body. All energy in the body is supplied by the breakdown of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). So, all those energy sources can be converted into energy, but what the body chooses to use at any given time or store depends upon the level of energy expected to be expended. So it uses it in tiers. Phosphorus is what the body chooses for immediate energy, like rolling over and turning off your alarm. The energy to lift something heavy is fueled by phosphorus which grabs a molecule of creatine to form an ATP molecule. It’s a one shot burst of energy but is consumed very quickly and will not sustain you for a longer period. Most of our energy comes from glucose for intermediate forms of energy although its preference depends on how long and how much energy are expended, like that long walk when you feel too tired to walk back home. You have used it up. Shorts periods of energy, such as an allegro, are fueled by a mechanism known as anaerobic glycosis. This means literally cutting off a unit of glycogen molecule (picture a string of pearls) and is metabolized without oxygen (anaerobic). In order to form this molecule as quickly as it needs to, it bypasses gathering the oxygen to make ATP, it makes lactic acid. After a class your muscles are filled with it. Glucose is also the energy choice for say long distance running. The fuel choice at this point is determined by how far you run, how hard and how what kind of shape you are already in.
In average condition the main tier will be aerobic glycolosis. The difference between anaerobic and aerobic is that in aerobic glycolosis oxygen is used as the key factor in maintaining and generating ATP rather than lactic acid. Aerobic glycolosis is slower and predominates when the intensity of the exercise is not great. Glucose is the fuel for both, but it is used differently depending on the physics of the movement and condition of the athlete. Finally, fat is used as a source of fuel in a process called aerobic lipolysis. Fat is big and difficult to break down, so the factors that determine whether fat is used are 1) energy demand, 2) duration, 3) condition of the person, and 4) nutritional status. If the demand is too great the body will use aerobic glycosis. Low to moderate intensity exercise would burn fat. You can tell by how fast your heart beats during and after the exercise. Duration is important because a body takes a while to use fat, just like when you are heating a pan to melt butter. If the exercise stops too soon the fat will not melt. Usually it takes up to 30 minutes for the body to begin to metabolize fat. This is called endurance exercise. If you are well-conditioned, your body burns fat more readily than if you are not. However, a well-conditioned dancer is not the same as a well-conditioned runner. Nutrition here means when and what you ate. if you consume food that is mostly glucose (carbs) less than an hour before exercising, your body will use that glucose as its fuel source rather than begin to use its fat stores. You will still burn calories from the food you ate, but your body will not use the fat until the recently supplied energy stores are depleted. It really is a matter of tiers and conditions which vary. Even at rest, you are producing energy by aerobic glycolysis and aerobic lipolysis.
Protein is not used as a direct fuel source and it does not provide energy to any extent. It is used to build and maintain muscle or rebuild muscle and bone. It is the gyst of these ideas that is important, not the details, so don’t get bogged down, just try to understand. Dance activity does not promote fat loss because most of the energy required for it comes from anaerobic glycolysis and not aerobic lipolysis. Fortunately there is a solution. Choosing the right kind of cross-training and diet can lead to the achievement of a lithe sylph.
The Art Student’s League in Manhattan, used to be the center of a movement of art-which is not unlike movement characterized by dance or ballet. As a student in New York in the early 1980’s, I used to pass by it to and from meetings with my father. It sits on 57th Street, occupying a Northern exposure in a great deal of glorious architecture, that at once says, Federal, Belle Epoque, and a lot of other things to a curious student of art, passing by, which I was. What it says most importantly, is, “Come In.”
Once you are inside, there is usually a flurry to your right, clerks registering students, answering questions, giving directions, processing payments, scheduling classes, and doing other things, relevant to the increasing importance of a communications center in a sort of drop-in art school. To your left, there were benches, large sculptures, and in the rear (ground floor), a small art store. But the smell of art, one I remember as a child, pervades the hallways, and artists, as surely as those people at Steps are dancers, come and go, up and down, to and from the classes, in and out the doors. No doubt, it is different now, but it’s purpose is the same.
Central to the idea of having an art student’s league, a Steps, or any other facility which caters to the ideas and expression of a world of artists, is the motto they have restrung, “No Day Without A Line,” or ‘Nulla Dies Sine Linea’, originally attributed to the famous Greek painter Apelles by the historian Pliny the Elder, who recorded that Apelles would not let a day pass without at least drawing a line to practice his art.
I did not know this when I first walked into The Art Student’s League, but I found it anyway, it beckoned to me, and it is this curiosity and drive which probably led others to find it, and why it is still open today. Upstairs is a rather large gallery, where anyone may go, during open hours which coincide with the school’s, and view the work of previous student artists, and this will prove interesting at some point for all people similarly situated, as no doubt, names and works of those whom you have studied, or come to love, or be inspired by, will be at some point hanging on the wall in front of you. You may think, ‘one day, a long time ago, this artist stood here as I am standing now’, with a future before them, questions about their comments or ideas on the encroaching world, and they painted drew, printed, sculpted or made art to reflect those impressions, creative processes or feelings, much as you stand there now doing; contemplating art-what to do.
As artists, songwriters, performers, dancers, writers, pass on, it is even more important to me now, that each day is lived, for no matter the day that you stop doing, it is what you have lived, what you have expressed, done and whom you have impacted, that matters. It matters most to those standing there looking at that wall now, and who knows what may emerge to influence them or represent the past,connect with the future, but it is all cyclical, and it is important to see it, to live it, to smell it, to hear it, to draw, paint, dance, say, write or express it, especially for those coming up who will be looking for it, just as I was, or you are now. It may be important to no one else, but this small difference can mean the world, as we artists have seen and felt-to know that someone before us, came down the same path, looked for the same signs, needed the same encouragement, and passed on even the advice, seemingly to us, “Nulla Dies SIne Linea.” Write that down-No Day Without A Line. An artist’s life begins with the habit of doing, looking, practicing, creating, or thinking-even writing. But, if we fail to see and exploit what is inside us, right in front of us, or invisible to the non-artist-we lose opportunity, and time, memories and experiences. Experiences make art better, more relevant, more interesting.
Above the local business and day-to-day running of a place for artists, and many of them find this place the same way I did, and then look it up, before going in, venturing forth, stretching out-are atelier studios for making art. Students sit together in groups, with a model center, each trying to preserve a vantage point of privacy, with their backs to the walls, while viewing the figure in front of them, and then casting onto their chosen form of paper, or communication, a line, then shadows, by various processes, at many different speeds, defining their own vision, what the world means to them, their own very essence of existence, their own opinion-what they SEE. Everybody sees differently, paints or draws or creates differently, and in the studio, above the people, the ceilings rose very high, as though to say, art has no limits, your freedom and expression have no boundaries, BE, LEARN, CREATE, LIVE!
For just 1 hour, maybe more, these people come together to make their lines, and this is as important to the soul of humanity as a Starbucks on every corner, a gym to define muscle and who we appear to be, or the checking of our Facebook accounts every five minutes or so, to see how important we are, or whether we truly have any friends. But here, artists are doing, making, extending themselves, confronting art and the world with it. It is much better to look inward and to relate, in whatever way, what is inside our heads, take it outside, discuss it, critique it, look at that which truly makes us unique, and can only serve to make us more interesting, than to repeat, repeat, repeat, than that which has occurred or gone before us, reposting, retweeting, reminding.
The Art Student’s League is one place to go and find something new about yourself-there are many. What you put in your pot, comes out of your pot through your pen, or foot, or other device. Apelles idea was to search himself every day, at least once, to remind himself that he was an artist, a thinker, a creator, and we are all creators essentially. The trick is to take the initiative, to find what you can create in any or every medium, and that requires searching oneself, daily, for ideas, inspiration and motivation. Sometimes this connects with life automatically, sometimes the slate seems blank, and sometimes with searching a little water is found to be in the well after all, whereas, other times, the water gushes forth and ideas need to be capped quickly, and saved in any form for later reference, just to add to those times when the well seems dry, but if you stop going back tot the well, it does not exactly dry up-NO-but it might begin to take a secondary place, and for an artist, this must never happen!
Think of what ideas and opportunities might be lost! Missed. Forgotten. Unsung. It is still in the pot-let it out, let it mingle, don’t be afraid. Perhaps a terrible bad idea can become a great one when viewed later. But a symphony, a ballet and any artwork or writing starts with a line. A dot, a thought, even a doodle can extend into an idea and become, with work, something meaningful, expressive and important. It is not what we are able to accomplish as humans, sometimes it is the fact that we have a choice to do so, can take the initiative if we want to, that putting a pen to paper or a foot to tapping, is the beginning of something unique, or might be. To me, that is the greatest thing of all-possibility. It is exciting to think about what might be possible. To begin seeing, you only have to begin looking. Really looking.
There is, among us, a retinue of dancers moving forward in the battalion of dancing life that is ballet. I have been reading blogs, posts, books, and seeing firsthand what it takes to pursue a professional career of dancing. There are many stories of dancers and their personal challenges, sacrifices and this all becomes a part of their artistic achievements. When you read a book, you hold that life in your head. Dancers and their audience are connected by a thread, too, sometimes a tapestry in convolution. They will always say, the ballet world is small, but it is not-it is intimate, a world of the language of ballet or the other dance they share in a convivial spirit of dance. This is true. There seem to be good people all over who have committed their lives to practicing this altruism, passing down what they know and love, and mostly lovingly fostering the development of their students in the dance world. My view and perspective are very limited, and by force, practical. Each step that my own daughter has made has been with focus and direction toward attaining her goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer. This has not been easy for her, unlike Sylvie Guillem, who quips that her dedication and love of the art did not come because she was nurtured in a “ballet environment” from an early age, but because she made the conscious decision that this was something she could do, something that for her there was a place, and that she came to love it- was not the only perspective, but an important one, that I thought about this year.
My daughter, Aingeal, is seventeen, and she has been dancing since she was about eleven. It has certainly not been easy for her and a place has not always been offered, encouraged, or extended. She has consistently pursued a path, that while extremely challenging physically, has been fraught with many difficulties of other sorts, too. It has been a great learning experience that cannot be summed up by me, in a short or simple way. But, she has shown fortitude, and an unflinching spirit to continually learn and improve despite having to take and get what she needed in a not-so-consistent manner, she felt. At the bottom (or the top) of this is that little moon over the coast in Moldova, a giant moon to her, of bright light, shining from possibly a million miles away, and sometimes large enough to warm you in its iridescence. I can tell what guides her and keeps her focused on that wide beam of light which encompasses many contenders and rivals. It is sheer willpower and determination, not because she was a “natural” in the typical regards. Those kinds of descriptors have come to mean less and less to me as I see wide gaps in ability and effort, and motivation, with those who apparently have the sought after assets, but when push comes to shove, can’t really engage the viewer unpredictably, and are far less than “capable” of producing art. That giant moon can warm and also burn you, and ultimately, you have to be able to step very far back from the landscape it offers and reduce it’s magnitude and awesomeness in order to seemingly squeeze it between your fingers, and control it; this is what you must do to achieve anything, and you must be able to do it your own way. This ability enables you to keep on dancing-and that is another part of the journey, and without judgement by others of your path, this might be a lot easier. There might be valid reasons for taking a different, less traveled path, and my experience has been that the person on that path is the object and not some other voice of reason or logic, however insistent it’s dogmatism.
I have never blatantly exposed her to the public, and I am not going to now, not in this little piece or snatch of writing. She is too wonderful and too full of possibilities to post pictures of, although everybody does it. I believe, for one thing, that if you do something right, correctly, perfectly, you ought to be seen doing that thing while performing, and that you should not be an exhibitionist. I think photos are a bad way to experience dance and dancers. It reduces dancers to pin-up girls and boys, and doesn’t connect you with the art. Ballet is about movement and what is achieved in a moment of time, something wonderful and it needs to be done doing it, in a theater, on a stage, in a studio, and it is always a work in progress-all the time- forever changing, growing, never the same, not static, frozen, posed, for that is the antithesis of movement and ballet, really. The opposite. One difference is the dancer is not merely a tool, or a body, but is also an artist, all rolled up into one and this can best be experienced by watching a dancer dance, live, moving, improving, growing, changing, expressing, not just stopping in a pose, but moving through the pose-evolving. Dancers transition constantly, they become artists.
I am not saying that ballet photos are not beautiful to look at (and tutus), pointe shoes are shiny, muscles and contortions imply strength, but not necessarily good dancing; they just do not speak volumes to me, as they might to parents or fans of children or certain dancers, about that singular person-not a dancer, and only in a stark and cold way about that imagery, like the little doll on the music box that goes around and around and around, they are commercial. They only represent or remind one of of ballet, or gymnastics, or pole-dancing, or the circus-which also is changing and moving all the time, just not identifiable as “ballet”. They are like a totem pole, trussed up in the colors of a tribe with the stock faces or photos of what a tree looks like, or a pose, much like those art programs where an artist closed inside a room is drawing a landscape or a body and it is sort of by the book-they suggest that this is HOW you do it. It is not. It begins with seeing. Hearing. Feeling. Learning. Moving. Practicing and performing. So many things, thousands and thousands of variables, skills, and this is what makes it an art, all of the assimilation and expression, eventually, of this. It is not liked seeing an individual tree, or a particular body, moving and swaying in the breeze, to the music, or in any kind of “live” action, which you are a part of, when you draw a tree-you are “in drawing.” It is like this when your are dancing-you are removed and yet, in it, and the viewer is up-close and involved in that moment, too.
So, photos are without any real expression or feeling, it is not unique, or individual, though the “art”of photography may be. I do not think “ballet” is a series of flat photos depicting a pose. I think this is why people have come to work on their calisthenics more than their dancing and other aspects important in theater, like a text is less rich than a face-to-face discussion. These are more like reminders of what it is like “to talk”, such as those little twirling dolls, and even more limited. I think ballet is art, and the components of the ballet, starting with a dancer, a musical note, costume, light, libretto, choreography, scenery, and audience, all together create an individual moment in time, or a series of moments, and cannot be distilled into one flat moment, though some beautiful imagery using body parts, lighting and color are created; it is NOT ballet. So, I have waited for her to dance, and have watched her in class and in performances and am surprised when that feeling hits me but not why I did not capture it in a picture. In art 99 percent of what you do gets thrown out, or becomes meaningless extracted from it’s whole. When I watch ballet, I am looking for something else, something a picture cannot ever convey-that is why I go to the ballet.
I am looking for an artist, a masterpiece, and sometimes I can catch this through her, so I know she is an artist, that’s all. If I could convey my own meaning simply, and effortlessly, maybe, then I would be a writer, and I am not a great writer. I am not trying to be, though. But, I do know about the pursuit of art, and I have pursued it in one way or another all of my life, mine, and that of others, by which I am more frequently satisfied, though less often than I hope to be. Great art rises to the top, and really great art remains there forever, or for as long as it is relevant to people. All I could say for many years is how hard she worked, whether she was on the music, how she looked in a costume, that she was pretty, whether she was able to dance, and various other things like that-topical things-the ones on the surface. Now I see a few more of the deeper things, such as certain muscles, a precision, an air, attitude, a glance, a pose, and much movement, precision, and she is engaging, but some of the more important basic elements were there when she just danced or moved with the music, for that is what the eye and mind do, they look to relate. They find line, symmetry, patterns, fluidity, and other things, and they note when they are missing or not there. These things would not be apparent at all in a photo, and only a little more is visible in a video. The theater is the arena for dance.
While I was watching, and when I wasn’t, she grew into a young lady, and the dancer in her grew also, so that they became one being together, and while I love her very much, I cannot fawn on pictures, but it is her spiritual self which has changed into a dancer, and she has this beautiful way about her when she is dancing, and that is what I am so so happy and thankful for; that she is able to enjoy dancing and explore herself through the medium of dance. I would not want to capture this in a photo or a video because I do not need to. She has grown stronger and more appealing to others everyday because of her ability, but more because of something else which I do not think anyone can put their finger on exactly, and photos are not the best conduit for this. It is her, and this is her own intimate form of expression and course, and not mine to post on social media or to exploit. Hopefully, it is in part, what people would pay to see, or not, one day; and that may be the one harmful aspect of posting too much about oneself, or anyone on social media, as it results in oversaturation of one aspect of her abilities. Ballet is in her imagination and you can only see that while she is dancing.
In her opinion, it is for the stage only, in class, to practice, and for a lifetime of dancing, and those many thousands of moments cannot be encapsulated into one photo. But there is a feeling of memory which a photo can relate, but it is not plastic or alive, so I am not going to post accompanying photos to this post, or any other, as long as I can help it. Her journey began to be difficult at birth, and during delivery she had her arm broken in several places, and her shoulder, due to a poor medical plan on the part of my doctors. She should have been a cesarean delivery, and had she been, I might not be here, and she might not be there. But, for several months after birth, she wore a little sling and the arm healed, with no manipulation or encouragement of the bones except naturally. She was able to see no doctor about it after it occurred, such is the medical practice, as long as she gave her real name, and even now, until those doctors were convinced it was too late for us to sue, so there has been no further x-ray of it, or investigation or cures proposed. Only ballet and normal childhood activity.
When you have a child, and you worry about possible disfigurement at birth, crippling effects, and their health and happiness, the last thing, I think, that a normal parent worries about is suing anyone-you think, “I hope she is able to do all the things she normally would; pole vault, etc” and not, “How much can I get?” Or maybe that is just me. I watched her grow and remarked, when the sling was off for daily changings of her undershirt, which held it in position, pinned to her lapel, how the arm didn’t move very much, and how she tried to move it, and how freely the other one moved and worked normally. It was just that, that perceptible difference which marked her path, maybe, and what was required each day in order to do the things she desired to do, reach, play, and grab, but also hug, use fine motor skills and it was that added effort she applied which made it better each day, and not the talking about it or recording each daily change for posterity’s sake. She was perfect otherwise, beautiful, and would stand on the bench, inside and looking out into the yard, and I swear the little birds and animals would come right up to the window when she did, and had no fear of her. She sang, and rolled and lolled and when she could finally hold a pen, she wrote, and she wrote reams and reams and reams, just in one year, of scribbles across the pages, approximating something she was compelled to say, or do, or achieve, and daily the patterns became more clear, more intricate, and finally words emerged, then speech, and description and communication, which then became more and more perfect, organized and immaculately contained in stapled pages, then in journals, then notebooks, and diaries, and larger notebooks and she has continued writing, and progressing to a purpose of greater communication or ability, fluency, or possibly for many other purposes unfathomable to me.
This is what happened in dance, too. She endured a lot of pain then, at birth, and for her, pain was not something which daunted her or repelled her in dance, and she moved toward it, rather than away from it, to achieve literacy, what was on the other side. Perhaps from memory, too, she was not going to let a little pain stop her. I remember when she first went to ballet class, and I really had no plan, no design, none at all. I took her because my grandmother wanted to pay for her to take lessons, and because she was attending a little school with her friends in our town of Laguna Beach, CA. I had danced, and had a proper respect for the pedagogy and was going to instill it in her, too, because that is what some parents do. I had to find her a good teacher, I knew, of ballet only, and that was all. But, her perspective was likely much different. For one thing, she was skeptical, and did not know if she would like “ballet”-had never even seen ballet really, and though she always liked dressing up and dancing around the house with her brother, beyond that satisfactory experience, and her obsession with carry-alls and passports, as opposed to dolls and toys, I did not think she understood it at all, but she moved and liked to move, most. But we went to a class and they were at a more or less primary level, each in their little white leotards and white demi-skirts and she joined in, rather late in the year, looking perfectly suited, graceful and beautiful. I thought it more of a beginning to becoming a young lady, a rite of feminine passage, what people DO naturally, a way to develop poise, confidence, agility, but she immediately saw it as a means to an end of something she was in pursuit of and which I clearly knew nothing about.
I knew for me what it meant, had meant, and my own perspective was all I saw, but I did reason that others had different motivation, so I accepted hers as hers, that’s all, but even then, I did not recognize hers as greater than mine, more impassioned, more necessary possibly, and that would have been hard to imagine even if I had been more sensitive or smart. That was it, first class, hooked. A new language, something she had not mastered, like the fine motor skills with her hand, and use of her arm, and she began a journey that took her each day, week, month, and year, toward her own very personal goal. She approached it pretty much the same way she had everything else and it was a suitable endeavor for a lifetime it seems. But now I only see this looking back.
I will cut out the many (now) years in between and note that she led me where she wanted to or needed to go and I followed, not always the perfect accompaniment (myself): driver, mouthpiece, personal factotum, sounding board, bank, beggar, and loving mother, but she surpassed my knowledge in some regards very quickly and is now far beyond me. I no longer even service her needs really, because she is strong in her path and my advice, contrary to her own best instinct, perhaps, might lead her astray. It must be what she wants it to be, and so to blame no one else, I am not there to pressure or help her, except as I can, because this is never the path to greatness in art. Art is an individual path. Only great teachers or artists, may contribute to another hopeful; only they understand one another. I did not think to make my daughter an alien to me, far from it-my children are my only and greatest friends, and only they truly love me, know me, forgive me. But there is also a remoteness in the serious study of ballet which eludes me-I am not an artist of it. They have their own levels of personal achievement and placement, a pecking order, support and encouragement, things that we rarely learned about and she now occasionally experiences; they each have a place that is known to only that dancer, and is shared only by dancers with each other. It is truly passed down. That is her world- this is mine.
She has remained sweet, honest and nice to others, as she was on the bench in the window, but she has grown to fill that space inside completely and has a depth that I cannot fathom. She is stronger than I give her credit for, stronger than anyone will probably ever know and only the best will appreciate her fully, give her what she needs. She is an artist. She is a dancer. She has sought to express with her body, and to communicate in a language, though basic enough to all of us, is for her a special language to express, with that body of hers, feelings and emotions, patterns, and paragraphs, sentences and pictures, which to the artist and audience, have mutual conveyance and understanding, but it is an art-not a pose. There is more in a gesture, truly felt, and understood by all, seemingly simple and yet so complex, that we immediately understand. There is so much to it though, and it is continually challenging and demanding, that I cannot begin to be a part of it, nor do I understand from a distance that other side of it,which cannot be expressed in words, just how and why it is so completely different a place for dancers, an inner sanctum, but it is. So, in some sense, she is very quiet about it, and the more quiet she is, the more I know she is content, and happily working toward a proficiency in another language, which only little bubbles of excitement escape to share it’s life and depth, or apparent deep thought, open disappointment or frustration, even depression is all communicated physically, and anger might be the cause of other action. Elated, joyful, cat-like behavior and physical snuggles, resembling purring, but not a lot of talk. I hope it is a phase-it is so difficult, because I cannot share her spectrum of feelings, cannot communicate back-ward in this way to her, and only know it by a sort of recognition now, and begin to know that it is communication by its repeated appearance as such. In my house, people speak English, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, French, art, and ballet. It is great and you learn wondrous things from them about their culture, but that does not mean you become proficient in the language by watching (as critics and parents think)it yourself. But we try to understand, see another point of view. It means you are exposed to it, just like any other language, but you are not necessarily fluent, capable, or necessary. Being able to order in Chinese is a long, long way from writing a classic in it, or reading a classic with the deep understanding of a proficient. She and I have a long way to go, I much further and may never really fully understand. I am not fluent. I am really blind, deaf and dumb. She is becoming fluent in ballet and to some extent I am mute. I think this is wonderful for her and increasingly difficult for me to understand even. But when I watch her dance, then I am convinced once again, that this is her place, where she belongs, some place she can do something. What makes dancers dance?
When she is a great artist, if she reaches a point where she is competent, powerful, profound, famous, markedly different and you can’t take your eyes off her, ever (and I am sure even great artists are boring sometimes), then will that be truly something special for me to witness? Assuredly, it will be the same experience of art, and fame or validity of a public kind will not take that away or change it for me, or make less artistic or moving, that which I have always been privileged to see and have already witnessed, all those many thousands of moments, I remember. It begins to make more and more sense and I re-accept her commitment and dedication, and unswerving devotion and sacrifice to achieve and continue doing something she really loves and must do. A picture might trigger a certain memory, or stage of here continuum, but I would not be able to gain that from a photo, posed, poised to dance, but not dancing what I have in my head. That is where the picture, as her mother, comes to life. I could only see this from watching her dance, seeing her move, experiencing all of her, and seeing her voice, feeling it while she is performing on a stage. Then she is another person, a dancer, an artist, and I am moved the same way I am moved by any other great artist-this is how I know and how I have always known that it is not about competition, or praise, or photographs or fame. It is about art and the pursuit of it and a level of true artistry, performance, and imagination, but most importantly, it is about being able to communicate and being driven by the passion to do so.
It is a long journey to be a great artist, if that is what you want to be. It is as fleeting for a writer to find the perfect phrase, or for an artist to know in his own heart that indeed this work is a masterpiece, as it is for a ballet dancer to have that moment when there is catharsis, and the moment is perfection; like those few bars of music playing when we recognize perfection, and that tune has it’s lasting reverie and effect upon us once again. This is the singular power of art. It is like water to life-just that very instant, when life is summed up by something created and communicated by art, and even some people agree, that this hits the magical spot, even for a brief moment, a split second, but long enough to want to isolate that part and play it over and over again, until we tire of it, have our fill, and to feel that moment, or to see that vision, to feel that pathos, or to repeat that expression, and in ballet, too, or in dancing, that begins in the artist and they must have control over it to some extent to be able to perpetuate it, without set music, pat variations, recognizable scenery, for that is, in a way copying another moment of art, or just decoration, superfluous to the art of ballet itself-but it is not possible in a picture to capture, or a film any of that moment at all. But it is in that moment, for a dancer when it feels perfectly expressed and like fire, it catches everyone’s attention, and for the dancer, the journey to that split second, maybe, it was all simply worth it. They might wonder if anyone saw it, if anyone else shared that moment with them, but it does not decrease that moment if they did not. This is an artist.
But in some smaller ways, they must feel this all the time, or maybe more often and finally, very often, to continue. This is not to be confused with a student in class, who appears to be teachable, or who can afford to pay for privates, or does performance after performance by rote, dresses up, wears a costume, does a competition, photographs themselves, etc. It is how that artist alone floats in the water, survives, learns to paddle, and then weathers the elements and the storms to continue to dance originally, before they become recognizable, and how they can move you, communicate with you personally, and this requires you, as the audience, and the artist, as expressor to complete the circle. It isn’t static. Sure, you can say, viewing it again, it is right THERE, at 2:21 when you felt chills run down your spine and you practically leap out of your seat, moved to dance, but it is not the same as the actual moment when someone’s dancing really struck you, as different and unique on a live stage or the impact in context of the entire ballet or performance. There is no real magic otherwise, only perceived. It can never be the same for you, not the same as dancing, as it is for the person doing it, either, but it seems possible, and moves the paraplegic, the autistic, and others to do the same and to express themselves by using the language of ballet and movement. So, we all think we know about it, but the perspective for the dancer, what truly motivates them, aside from obsession, is not necessarily apparent. It is not meant to be. But in all great dancers, and those who continue to dance, it is there.
In class, people will say her upper body is beautiful, without realizing just how much work it takes to keep that shoulder down, or how much pain it causes one to dance, to hold one’s arms, and how when you are dancing, you forget that pain, and that in some way this is God’s blessing to you, that he enabled you to feel no pain in your feet, not wear even a toe pad, and how you have your teachers to thank for saying “all right, remove the wool-here we go!” and how you never looked back and just kept moving forward despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles and when you thought no one was interested-they were. It’s ironic that she should have such beautiful expression to me, that I can see her mastery and control of this instrument growing daily, and how long it has taken to perfect something more difficult than what she already has had to achieve, for her, and how much eternal joy can be gotten from moving at all, and being able to dance, and how that alone can be enough to propel you, and that you are unstoppable really, because nothing could hurt or be more difficult to overcome than those initial obstacles, and you achieved those. How those ballet muscles must literally be holding that little body together and without it, though I had never even contemplated it, how she might have suffered and been deformed, or had limitations, when now she has so few. How it has molded and shaped her, and helped her to overcome some things that might have seemed impossible had she stopped to actually think about it, or took cures, or dwelled on it, listened to any other voice than her own and the music, and how incredibly strong she is and has become, and how this strength suits her, and yet how she is also capable of expressing such vulnerability and how this, too, looks good on her.
If I took her to class and this was the result, only, I could find no fault with it, or our journey, only gratitude in it, from a mother’s perspective-ever. What could have been was far worse? So, she has always had to work hard, but not for the same reasons other people have, or the same ways, and maybe that is why I will never be able to fully speak her language, why it will always be a little alien to me, hers alone, really, because I took those things for granted, and I was not born with that same stick-to-it-tiveness, or determination, and I did not get up in the morning and say, “I have to dance!” But she does. I look at her, and I am so proud and happy for her, but I do not want to see pictures. They just do not communicate well enough the infinitesimal detail which she strives for, the expression which she ultimately seeks, or any of what I see or feel. So, I owe it to her to keep that journey private in a way, and to not interfere with her perception of herself, and to let her try to become what she wants, evidently, more than anything else, to do. I do not want her to look back too often and say,” that is what I was,” but instead, “this is what I am and will be.”
It isn’t what people think of your pictures, it is what they think of you in class, that you catch their imagination and hold onto it, hear your voice in your dancing, and are riveted by your performance, are inspired by your effort, see your very soul shining forth, your strength, your differences, and not your similarities-what you do differently from other people, and how that is unique. This is important, that you say something in a way that is distinctly you. People all communicate differently, and she is developing a way of speaking of her own, that comes with hard work and practice. Maybe something more, too, and maybe that is in all of us to some degree, but that is what makes ballet art, and never sport.
It is how you do something wonderful with the same pair of old shoes you draw, and how you make each performance and each step meaningful and vitally necessary. Art has an epitome, a reachable point of perfection. It is in our perception of it, not only others. There is a way to grab it between your fingers and control it, roll it around and ponder it, and then let go, stand back, and let it’s wide light engulf you. When she is comfortable in her ability to communicate, she soars, and I think that is what is important, and that journey is different for everyone, uniquely so. I do not believe that anyone who wants to do something, no matter their age, their ability, background, or their income level should matter-if they have a strong enough will, and an opportunity, I have found, they will find a way to accomplish it-despite all the advice, opinions, naysayers, competitors, dream-killers, and sad-sacks. It is the joy you seek, and some intangible reward, and that I know, which is the momentum for continuing. She is living proof of that many times over, and she literally needs to continue, no matter what. To continue is always a fight financially, and costly to keep moving ahead and progressing in level, it requires deftness and intelligence, too, but it has to be done somehow, and we have continued on, despite deadly setbacks, ridiculous politics, and other reasons which really have no place in ballet education, the arts, therapy, or communication. It shouldn’t be so difficult to pay for when someone really needs it, or wants it, to get the right education for you to continually get the extra help, encouragement, or opportunities that you need to go on and try, and each day is happier and happier still the closer you get to all of your goals, and to that place when you are better, and it’s reaching all of those little muscles, deployable now, and in your control, so you can speak ballet fluently, but it is very difficult and expensive just the same-part of the challenge. But, you have never shrunk from a challenge. I pray you get more!
Sarah Sapora-Marketing expert and lifestyle blogger passionate about empowering women to be more inspired and body positive in their everyday lives. (The Huffington Post 5/6/2015) Reposted 5/10/2015 on Mysylph. Photos by Nichole Alex.
A few years ago I started noticing this trend in fashion blogging — tutus.
Blame it on SJP and Sex and the City if you will, but tutus were suddenly everywhere. Petite girls, plus size girls, women of all shapes and colors were donning fluffy skirts and posing for pictures on rooftops, desert roads, beaches and urban city streets. Oh look, another tutu pic…
Cut to the present. I was deep in the throes of a stream of crappy dates — feeling blue and lackluster. I’d sought solace at the bottom of many containers of Haagen Dazs Limited Edition Peanut Butter Pie. I had exasperated all my Back Up Guys via text and watched Sleepless in Seattle for the third time when I came to the conclusion of the cold, hard truth — if I wanted to get My Magic back, I was going to have to get it myself. And that’s when the idea pinged over my head like a cartoon lightbulb: I wanted a tutu.
What would I do with one? Where would I wear it? How on earth did buying one make sense?
I threw away each of these practical questions and turned to Etsy. A quick search revealed dozens of vendors offering tutus. I flipped through page after page til I found the perfect match and squealed in delight when I saw a HUGE color card to pick from. Did I want bright pink? Vivid aqua? Shocking yellow? And then I saw My Color. Electric Coral. It spoke it me. It Dolly Parton sang to me. Before common sense could intervene, I placed an order for my very own, custom-made tutu.
It arrived on a Thursday. Packed into a small, lightweight box. And when I took it out and released its glory unto the world — the heavens sang.
It had magical powers. As if it was sewn from threads of whimsy and delight.
The tutu sat on the floor of my friend’s apartment and gathered spectators, all coming to pay homage to it, having heard about it through the grapevine. Selfies were snapped. And every woman, no matter how old, how serious, or how jaded and “oh so, LA” became an enchanted little girl in its presence. Skinny girls. Big girls. Twenty-something girls and 40-something executives all melted into pools of giggling pleasure as she wrapped it around her waist. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Tutu.
Do you wonder what it feels like to wear a tutu?
Once you get over the silly feeling — which lasts all of seven seconds — you feel simply glorious.
You are transported back to your parent’s living room, swirling around in oversized dress up clothes with sticky, jelly covered fingers. Before college or period cramps or micromanaging bosses. Before agonizing over each text He sent, stressing about debt, wondering when those wrinkles got there? When desire, not obligation, was your daily fuel.
You feel emotions you haven’t dare been in touch with, since gravity hit your breasts and grey hair started creeping in at your crown. Whimsy. Glee. Enchantment. Freedom.
You know, the things “grown-ups” just don’t allow themselves to feel.
For just those few minutes, you are The Little Princess, Sara Crewe, reunited with her father. Mary Lennox in her Secret Garden, blooming with flowers. Eloise running free through the Plaza. Alice gazing upon Wonderland for the first time.
For that period of time, striped socks, leg warmers, glitter Mary Janes and a polka dot skirt is a totally legit fashion choice. Spoonfuls of Nutella are a perfectly suitable dinner. Making a blanket fort with your BFF is the awesomest of Saturday night activities. She who had the most Lisa Frank stationary won at life. And nobody, and I mean nobody, could tell you that that plastic lanyard friendship bracelet made safety pinned to a sock while sitting cross-legged on the bed wouldn’t last forever and ever and ever.
You are Madonna. And Tiffany. And the sky isn’t just blue, it’s “Electric Blue” (thank you, Debbie Gibson) and you can paint the world any color you like with your brand new set of scented markers and glitter lip gloss and hair sprayed with Sun In…
But then the Galaxy beeps on the table next to you.
And the spell is broken.
Crestfallen you take your tutu off. Pack it (somewhat) neatly back into the box. And return to life. Your boss emails. And the phone clangs and dings in your hands. The Internet goes out (again) and you unplug the router for the eighth time. And your jeans are tighter than they were last week (whaat?) and you look forward to your current definition of Saturday night awesomeness activities, eating Chipotle and catching up on Scandal.
But as you stuff that box away under your bed, you touch it lovingly. You’ll always have that box. Stuffed with your tutu. That fluffy, frothy, magical tutu. Sitting at rest and waiting. It’s yours to cherish. To take for a whirl when you need it the most. When you need to remind yourself its ok to be young at heart, to make friends with that little girl inside you with the jelly covered fingers. To never entirely let her go. And nobody, we mean nobody, can tell you that joy won’t last forever and ever and ever.
And so I urge you, from one woman to another. Find your tutu. If you’re feeling frisky, get your own! But if tulle and ribbon isn’t in your future, find something. Something that belongs only to you. A dress in your favorite color. The faded New Kids on the Block tee you’ve had since the 7th grade. Or something made of lace. Something, anything, that when you slip it over your head makes you utterly impervious. To stress and to obligation. To big, scary decisions with lots of consequences. To transport you to a more simple time when you lived in the moment, time was on your side, and anything was possible.
The story of men who dance is complicated, with ups and downs, stereotypes and triumphs.
This program presents several people with different perspectives and insights about the legacy and meaning of male dancers. Randy James’ talks about his all-male company, 10 Hairy Legs, which celebrates the technical and emotional range of male dancers. The group will also perform two pieces. Andy Weinert (also performing at 92Y on April 24 and 25) has been reconstructing dances by Ted Shawn, the first important male American dancer of the 20th century, and by other modern dance pioneers, while also creating new works that investigate that legacy. For perspective and a sense of the changing history of male dancers, Norton Owen joins us. He’s the archivist for Jacob’s Pillow, which was founded by Shawn.
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Many children are dancing now. By child, I mean, anyone who has not reached adulthood, their final (ever-changing) post-adolescent body proportions, has not reached their full height, width, girth, started or regularly encountered their period, and anyone who is changing or growing constantly. These people need to be doubly cautious when it comes to providing enough and varied nutrients in their diets, and enough cannot be said here about this. It is a parent’s responsibility, and not only the child’s to make sure food is eaten, what and when. Weaning is gradual and in dance may need to be watched and continued until much later on because there is little time for student, dancer, teenager to make or prepare, shop for and eat all of the right things. Some people continue to grow into into their twenties, and men and women can fill-out later in life, and the body is always changing, going through new life cycles so there are adjustments to be expected aside from actual dancing regimens.
1) don’t cut calories drastically. instead, eat slightly smaller portions and better foods. you need your energy, otherwise you could injure yourself or just be too tired to work at your peak level while dieting. females should not cut calories more than 200-300 per day. that is, if you are eating 1500-1600 per day, you can safely go down to 1300-1400 to begin with. at the same level of exercise this will reduce you fat gradually, and
2) aim for many meals per day 5-6 at least over the course of a 10-12 hour day. you can lose more fat because more meals burn more calories [by increasing thermogenesis, the production of heat, in the body]. divide how many calories you expect to consume during the day by the number of meals you can schedule in and try to spread them out evenly.
Some things we are born with a certain amount of and we lose, and these things need to be nourished to continue to grow in our bodies and starving our bodies can result in their premature loss or depletion, such as protein and estrogen-one is short term and one long. Example, proteins which are eaten should frequently be “complete, and hormone replacement therapy is one option to low-estrogen. It is almost impossible to replenish certain things with food, just as wheat germ cannot really be “organic.” In the case of dancers, estrogen, and minerals may be on the decline or are lost with vigorous dancing. Water. Sugar. Fat. We need it, or some, to survive. We do want to try to choose our fats as often as possible, so I do not recommend eating prepared foods. it is one sure way to make a promising diet attempt a flat failure.
3) drink lots of water during the day. make sure you are thoroughly hydrated by consuming about 4 16 oz bottle of water per day or 2 32 oz ones. Take a vitamin supplement regularly and make sure to get your vitamin C, especially during cold months or at the onset of symptoms of a cold.
4) Some people swear by whey protein powder which is consumed in small amounts mixed with water and shaken in a tumbler or other cup. One after heavy exercise does reduce pain and speeds up muscle healing time. One would replace a protein portion, say in the afternoon snack period. Some food products naturally contain whey protein, so be careful not to overdo your protein: ricotta cheese, milk, yogurt (Greek of course), all cheeses (especially the cheap American variety). Sweet whey comes from the process that makes cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, swiss and other cheeses made with rennet enzymes that coagulate casein. Most cheese-makers consider whey a waste product, according to “Whey to Go” by Liz Campbell. She says that the Norwegians and Greeks continue to process whey further to make brown or Mysost “whey cheeses” like Gjetost.http://www.livestrong.com/article/254097-which-foods-contain-whey-protein/
Many foods and meal plans or choices exist which provide the needed essentials, tasty food choices and lots of options for different types of bodies, different or changing regimens, but which ones are suitable for dancers? What do dancers actually eat? They will (almost) never divulge their dieting secrets or truths. What about the dancer who tours or performs part of the year and then is off? What about the dancer who performs more of the time, but different parts, such as a corp dancer compared to a soloist? What about the young dancer who is building her body to the desired form, or the dancer newly wedded with grueling performance and rehearsal schedules, student by increasing level, change of program, type, or dancer returning to classes and performance after injury or time off? What about the competition dancer? The varied genre dancer? The athletic dancer who runs and does cross-training to mold or sculpt? The student or university dancer? What about a new mother who gives birth and then returns to dancing? What about the older dancer or non-dancer who returns to dance or begins to take classes? All of these different people, different bodies, different genres, ages and styles or situations are different mainly because of their levels or types of activities, and many other variables.
5) creatine is a naturally occurring fat burner, and is usually obtained via supplement because of the amount of food one would have to eat per day to get optimal levels of it for fat burning purposes, i.e., 500 g raw meat or fish every day. Since this is not realistic, supplementation with creatine is both prudent and advisable. Vegetarians and vegans do not get any creatine from food sources. Creatine levels in blood plasma are very low in these populations and it is one of the issues with vegetarian diets. How much is enough is debatable since you can’t get enough anyway. What is is most important about creatine is that athletes and dancers bleed it out. Whether you take a creatine supplement or not, is up to you, gauging whether it assists you is often the best way to find out. For those interested in reading more about it http://www.myfit.ca/foods_high_in_creatine.asp . You decide.
6) increase you vegetable consumption-i did not say “fruit.” Vegetables are nutrient-dense, meaning they pack maximum nutrition value with minimal calories, leaving you more full on fewer calories. Consume five servings a day of veggies, whether as a snack, on a sandwich or on the side of a chicken breast. Order your next grass fed beef, lean chicken or turkey burger with fresh vegetables instead of french fries. Vary the vegetables you eat for maximum nutritional whollop. Check a chart if you have questions about what vegetables are sources of which vitamins, minerals and other things that are good for you.
In varying degrees some of these situations run to the similar, but each one and everyone is unique for many different reasons, and it isvery difficult to not group people into similar categories, without making specific allowances for each. But to start with there are obvious differences which can be accounted for. Good foods and bad foods for a start, but face it, when you are starving, there is not really any bad food choice. So, don’t starve yourself! These other varying differences between dancers are, in accountable for in ballet specifically, and in those persons desiring to be professional dancers, certain distinct differences which can be used for comparison are abundant, but do not really change the diet composition much, or what it should be. They may need more of some things or less of others, but the food stores should be basically the same, failing personal taste. Age, to me is important. A child needs more to grow into healthy adulthood, and I will say, “womanhood.” Our bodies need to have stores of certain things to grow into fertile and healthy women. We need to mature and pass through adolescence and puberty, and at this time, when our bodies are doing many natural things they need to do, it is unwise to alter the needs of the body without being an expert and especially starve it.
7) Don’t use commercial fat burners without exercising, and don’t rely on them to burn fat without following a healthy eating plan. They are more likely to cause or add to harm, as they, like all vitamins, too are supplements and do not replace actually nutritional value.
8) Consuming fiber makes you feel full, provides slow-burning carbs and lowers insulin to aid in lean muscle creation. Try to have 20-30 grams of fiber in your diet per day. refer to nutritional details for information. Bran cereals, oatmeal and beans are good sources of fiber.
Further, unless there is an unusual set of ethnic or economic conditions which exist to limit these dancers diets, or ability to lose or gain weight, the circumstances or food may remain fairly static and is determinable. Habits which begin to develop in adolescence may take part of a life to change or control or omit without assistance. In some foreign countries rickets, and many other diet deficiencies are present (gradually less so) and deformities have occurred over centuries of malnutrition. Until about 30 years ago, no one looked at ballet activity and even thought that it varied from any other activity, researched dancer stress, strain or diet, or compared it to that of other semi-professional or professional athletes, or considered that the needs or habits of dancers were entirely different, and truthfully there is a paucity of well-thought out or researched information that is up-to-date or readily available to help dancers, specifically.
9) Eliminate ALL junkfood. Pizza and hamburgers have some nutritional value and can be consumed once in a while. This includes SWEETS-if you want that form!
10) Eat the right amount of protein. Protein will be converted to fat if overconsumed. About 1 gram of protein per pound of your weight (not the desired weight) is adequate. Keep track. If you do overeat protein, do not be terribly concerned, just lower it to the correct level if possible the following day. 1.5 grams of protein per pound is not going to hurt you or cause you to put on weight unless it is consumed over a long period of time. This provides sufficient amino acids to maintain muscle mass, while keeping your total calorie count under control. A lot of dancers do not ingest enough protein, making them have less muscle definition.Others might consume too much and be bulky or muscle-bound. It is definitely a visual thing.
In later life, aside from the dangers of messing with the above-mentioned and more obvious issues, are old age, and as women, what we begin to lose as we get older, how we remain healthy and prepared for those inevitable changes and losses, and even in early age many things can occur, but get worse or become more obvious as other hormones are depleted, so it is extra important for female dancers to educate and demand information about these concerns, but also to plan ahead. Those accumulated losses can accrue and devastate the female body well before old age. Some very healthy people exist out there who would belie this fact, and there are others whom are prone to certain diseases. Brittle bones, lost teeth, cancer, haggard appearances, etc. it is all based on how we treat ourselves over time and genetics, so we need to be good to ourselves because as women, teenagers, and children. We need to be prepared to withstand a lot.
11) Remember those healthy fats? Eat more. They are underutilized by people trying to shed fat. You have to reduce calories to get rid of body fat but you cannot cut out healthy fats completely. They take longer to break down in your stomach and help control blood sugar levels leaving you feeling more satisfied and reducing food cravings. Again, avocados, fatty fish, like salmon and tilapia, olives, nuts, and oils such as olive, flaxseed and canola are good heathy fats to introduce into your diet. I recommend mixing one-half serving of butter to one tspn or more of olive oil until you become accustomed to reducing the level of butter in your diet. it is great for cooking, you know you are cooking with half the good fat and it practically never smokes! This works in recipes as well (most). Also, Wildwood brand vegenaise is absolutely delicious and as it comes in several flavors there is no need to risk adding ingredients for your sandwiches, dips or salads. Ask your grocery store to carry it or look for it at Sprouts retailers. They usually order it by the case and it is in the cold section. I do not recommend replacement of mayo, for those diehards like me, but this is a delicious alternative.
12) Share your cheat foods, but eat some, too. That way you do not feel cheated and you get some of the flavor while not consuming the whole pie. You are doing everyone a favor.
The history of each body is important, and its age, in determining proper needs and nutrition, but also important and calculable is its activity level, patterns of use, and wear and tear. I have said before how important it is to treat your dancer body well, pamper it as often as possible, use good care, hygiene, and do not overwork it. Work smart. In short, do not add stress to it where enough stress is already occurring. Good diet should relieve stress not contribute to it. Adequate rest is very important and most dancers at a pre-professional or professional level do not get enough rest. Proper nutrition, I mean really good nutrition, for each dancer, is often not evident in many dancers, particularly young ones, and this is disturbing to me. Why is more attention not paid to dancer health in schools? Why do any children in this country not have access to good medical care and planning when so many diseases can later be attributed to the lack of it? With all of our advances, we are not able to measure each persons general health adequately. Most people only begin to be concerned about their health when they are older and we worry, kind of like the old finding God or being repentant just before death and not before. It is not how we lived, but how we live, that is important. Each day, each choice, each change.
13) Eat breakfast! Balanced. Full. It is the most important meal of the day for a dancer and one who is dieting because it contains everything you need (a good start) and will most likely be burned off. Your body, whether you know it or not, has been starving all night long and it deserves to eat. Not eating breakfast will negatively impact everything you do all day, including your technique and dancing. Eat a goodly amount of protein for breakfast, too, about 1/4 to 1/3 of your daily intake-spread the rest over the other meals and snacks. Eat a complex (slow-burning) carb, like otameal or a whole grain waffle or pancake, and start with a piece of fruit (right when you wake up), even before breakfast to get your metabolism revving and provide that much needed surge of energy, before your day has begun. Start off right! Since this is the best time to consume sugars, maple syrup (real) or other sugar incorporated into your breakfast occasionally is fine, as they will most likely burn off. Remember to keep your portions normally sized. Larger portions (hoarding) will only cause your body to store fat. This is where discipline comes in-it does. But you can have an extra egg white or yolk, and don’t forget the option of having additional egg whites during the early part of the day, or at breakfast. You can actually have a lot of eggs at lunch and as snacks. Spinach and kale in your omelette are also good for you as well as throughout the day! Mushrooms and other breakfasty type veggies can be eaten now as well, safely. try to consume one potato in its skin per week instead of other types of potatoes. Yams provide completely different nutrients and are not really necessary during the dieting phase, but can be consumed after your optimal weight/shape is reached. 🙂 You will normally burn off most of this by mid-morning snack, except the slow-burning carbs which will continue to be used until well into the afternoon.
14) Dancers and people in general, should avoid any food that lists corn syrup in the ingredients.
A teenager has different diet requirements than a young adult or an older, mature woman, or an elderly person. Having dealt with the elderly, those dying of cancer and other illnesses, middle-aged women, younger women, teenagers, children, babies, athletes and dancers, I have had the experience of knowing they are all very DIFFERENT but all respond to good diet. We would all be in a better position, later, to watch sodium, sugar and fat, now. But comes the thought that you cannot worry all the time about food and you cannot necessarily afford the best choices or everything that would benefit you. Psychology of the woman, teenager, adult or child, is also a very big factor impacting personal eating styles, tastes and goals. Bad habits excluded, we all develop eating patterns that appear simple but can be quite complicated just the same. Just as the person who fails on a diet and gets fatter, suffers a blow to their ego, blames themselves for a fad diet not working, the person who never appears to have diet issues can be seriously malnourished and fall prey to eating disorders later if they gain an ounce, or they may have to eat to build strength or gain weight. People’s motivations and experiences, vanity, and self-loathing and love of ourselves all play a part on our diet and eating habits, right or wrong and you need to account for them, too. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and demand that others are respectful of your body differences and eating requirements. No one is going to do this for you-you have to be your own best advocate and discipline comes from yourself.
15) Sugar consumption. Taking in simple carbs (which is sugar) should be limited, especially the first week you are dieting. They should be eaten in a very limited quantity after that as they are stored as fat. Right after you exercise, or as stated above, before breakfast, they provide quick energy, replace depleted glycogen stores in the liver and replenish muscle. Since they are much abused and anticipated, it is important to give yourself some. Satisfy your sweet tooth occasionally with a piece of fruit, chocolate less often and soda NEVER! You can have tea, coffee, waters or diet soda (if you must, but it is really bad for you). Once your desired weight is reached, and lean muscle is overwhelming flab, you can safely have the occasional hot chocolate, mixed drink (1), or beer, as well as the occasional random dessert. But for now, give yourself a week, and then keep track of them ALL. They are your culprits along with breads-you know the crusty kind….
16) Rotate your carbs. What does this mean? It means, for dancers, that some days are not as exhausting as others. It means on lower energy days it is best to reduce the number of slow-burning/carbs you eat, because you don’t use as much energy, therefore what is not used will be stored as fat. If you consume 100 carbs per day (100 pounds) on some days you might eat 120-140 and on others you might only eat 80-100. You still need energy, but not as much, and mental activity (homework) requires carbs, and energy, too. You cannot starve your body, but try to reduce protion size, eating as many meals per day with perhaps lower serving levels, or cut out that handful of nuts at snacktime, or yogurt in the afternoon-maybe the whole afternoon snack, because on slow days, meal times may be longer, meaning your meals are better enjoyed, definitely have room, and may be enjoyed. No dash and run snacks, but make sure your spread you meals out over the same number of times if possible. that way when your body comes to expect the snack, it gets something, just half, etc….or only the protein. Also, don’t carb-load, for any reason without following the guidelines of carb-loading, particularly. http://m.runnersworld.com/nutrition-runners/carbo%E2%80%93loading-rules-run It is not highly recommended for dancers. Another rule is to try to stop eating all carbs (if possible) after 4pm. THis does not include veggies with dinner or your usual bedtime snack, just slow-burning carbs, like most grains.
Besides psychology and age is activity level and this can varies in all dancers. Are you lethargic, energetic or do you conserve your energy or expend it all very quickly? Do you give 110% to your regimen, barre, allegro, variation, or performance. Do you go the extra mile or leave off after the first combination. Do you mark the exercises, sit-out? What are your habits? Good or bad, they account for calories and may be the difference between burning fat or other carbs, never getting to the fat. What is your level of consistency each day in the number of or type of dancing classes/performances or exercises that you do? When do you expend the most energy? At what point do you become tired, peek, or have to stop and why? What did you eat today? What is your level of activity, cross-training or aerobic exercise out of class? Are you prone to putting on weight or do you have to eat just to keep it on? Are you recently losing or gaining weight due to increased/decreased activity levels? Are you battling with other health issues, poor thyroid, cholesterol or salt? Are you diabetic? What time of the month is it? All of these factors combine to make your body chemistry or system completely unique and also affect how it loses or gains weight and builds muscle or mass, uses fat, carbs or glucose, etc., and how rapidly it tires or becomes apparently or not, worn out. It is possible to improve other areas of your dancing or techniques regardless of diet, for a better, more focused workout-try this-http://www.pointemagazine.com/issues/augustseptember-2011/your-best-body-defy-your-dna
17) If you like caffeine, drink one cup of coffee before your classes and another later in the day, say before rehearsals or a performance. It is known to enhance a workout. It causes the body to rely on more fat for fuel, rather than glucose. The effect of it, however is lessened when you consume it with, or on top of a high-carb meal. Try to consume it well after breakfast, but before class and eat it with healthy fats or protein if you are eating with or near it. Skip cream and sugar with it always and do not overdo it or drink it at other times of the day as you will develop a resistance to its fat-burning qualities.
18) Reduce or omit starchy carbs. Potatoes, rice, pasta and breads (especially consumed at the same time or meal) provides your body with more than it needs for energy and glycogen stores so what is leftover will be stored as fat. You do not have to eliminate them completely, and whatver your consumption of them, it should be spread over the life of your diet, and not omitted just for the diet. It is eating with purpose and good sense which results in permanent weightloss and not binge eating. You should, however, really omit or cut back on them while trying to reach your desired weight and shed body fat. They are the main problem with mismanaged carbs (sugars). Whether dietin gor not, limit their intake to 3-5 servings a day where most needed and as I said before, none after 4pm. A serving size is 1/2 cup to 1 cup per rice, pasta or sliced potatoes. Obviously, the rice is closer to a cup and not a cup of potatoes! Pasta servings should be fairly small when eaten and I do not recommend it if you want to see immediate results. You are what you eat.
I will attempt to post additional meal plans and advice as I come across it, adding additional parts to this article, so that some people can have a goto menu plan perhaps when they are too busy to plan or lose interest or imagination. Also, I would greatly appreciate comments and feedback on this as it is for dancers and any little bit of practical advice really helps people as long as it is related and in keeping with the idea of the piece. The best sources of diets for dancers are dancers themselves and though no one wants to interfere with their money-making, a little advice goes a long way from a professional or a novice, and it is just mean to keep it to oneself. Mean and shallow. Why hold on to something that is useful knowledge, hurting lost people in the process, and then writing a book or doing a paid interview, expecting them to then buy it? I would more likely buy the book of someone I liked who helped me previously than I would someone who jealously guarded it until someone offered them money for it. So, don’t be stingy with the knowledge, not every idea or meal plan merits a book.
So, due to their complex nature, I am not going to deal with many more of these medical and scientific (but related) issues because the article content and my knowledge would have to be far above my ability or qualifications to guide or assist those affected in their thinking, and is not intended as a practicum or rulebook for those with any other issues such as the ones listed. These are factors to consider when dieting, how much, portion size and that after 6 meal or snack, whether you need additional carbs or not, and to make you start thinking about what and when you eat. We even use energy when we are sleeping but are you choosing what energy and components you use while sleeping? Or is your body just depleting stores of energy and nutrients you need.
Obviously, any issues need to be taken into account and treated by a professional medical practitioner and/or nutritionist. Instead, I am approaching this from the point of view of any dancer who is basically healthy and eats clean and simple, but who wants to turn their fat into lean muscle, wants to make their body the best asset it can be and this is not about exercise, this is about eating foods which give energy, provide options and flexibility, and protect you from injuring yourself, while trying to obtain your best body appearance as a dancer.
If you have been told that you should wear a long skirt until your are “ready,” struggle with areas of resistance, would like to have leaner legs, arms or abdomen, you might be very close to your goals, but you will have to have a leaner diet with slow-burning carbs, less sugar and likely more protein, so be careful not to mismanage your carbs. Understand simple and complex. If you have lost a lot of weight recently, or are still losing it, gradually, but have so far not been able to discern much muscle, want to control how you lose it or appear, and despite continued efforts at dancing, then you might also want to add cardio to one of your workouts daily, and manage your carbs and protein better, this article might be useful for you, but I would be more concerned with eating enough, healing and making sure I got those extra vitamins and minerals and didn’t lose too much weight than changing my diet completely. Chances are you are doing some things right! If you are weak, skinny and no muscle tissue is discernible, than you have to build muscle and strength, this diet probably might help you to learn what you can add safely, though your purpose would not be to lose weight.
If you want to begin discovering yourself underneath a very small layer of fat, seeing your muscles, as they are naturally, with a rigorous program of ballet in place, then this method might help if you have the discipline to stick with the meal ideas, make small goals and stick to your guns, follow the advice and stay constantly on the lookout for better foods for you which meet roughly the same criteria. It might be safe to say that after one year has passed since reading this article, you come back and share your experiences and knowledge and story.
This article is not about dieting, it is about eating. If you want to see slow but perceptible change and begin a path to an improved image in front of the mirror, then there is going to be change which is visible, but not plenty here to motivate, inspire or sustain that journey as it is about a life of commitment and not a fad diet-but may it especially be a continued one for a long and healthy life of self-love and self-accomplishment. It is your body and is never going to look like someone else’s body no matter what you do! No diet is ever going to reveal another body-just yours, but you might be surprised of what you are capable of….and the body you can reveal by eating right. This article also assumes you dance at least 10 hours per week in a serious ballet or dance program, but it is written for someone who is newly dancing everyday for 6-8 hours or more per day every day. And, oh-take one day OFF.
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When I was growing up, people did not say that dancers were disciplined, but it was true. You could see it in their form. Also, it was much harder and more expensive to obtain organic foods, locally grown foods, or to find food without dextrose, sucrose, or corn syrup. Packaging was not very helpful and we did not have the Internet. Dancers were still seen somewhat as freaks, and so were yogis, health ‘nuts’, etc…. and now they are acceptable, but dancers still are, to some extent, still seen as freaks, trading a normal lifestyle for one of sacrifice, discipline and commitment, whether in a studio, on a stage, as a general fast, cleanse, eating regimen or health nut. At best we are acceptable as athletes, but this is not really what we are, is it? But when a dancer is judged, they are judged on the body, on the line, on what they can do on stage, in under 2 minutes, to a much greater degree than any other athlete. It behooves a dancer to have a healthy outlook and a positive one on the benefits of good food and a healthy lifestyle, because you have to be strong and resolute. It’s a matter of doing the best you can with what you’ve got. If you are starving your instrument, your art will suffer, eventually, because YOU will. The audience, judging public, professional or otherwise, has already decided what level of discipline you are based on how you look that quickly, too. I know many a very lazy dancer who is very slim and some very hard working ones who are not, but they will generally cast the slim ones-not always. Competition is fierce.
But, it is definitely how you appear, as a performer, and also what you do, so it is not uncommon for a choreographer or company to cast on body type, then teach teach teach the work or variation to a less accomplished dancer because they want a certain look. Artist has a much different connotation than dancer. It also implies age , maturity and wisdom, but you do not have to wait to eat smart. To begin with, size even determines what roles you get or don’t get and what you are permitted to or encouraged to wear, and this is largely based on how the choreographer or director or public perceives you or will perceive you (and how many costumes they want to keep on hand of various sizes) or how much sewing they reasonably want to do. As many factors as they can control, they do attempt to control and if you are a ballet dancer, you will have to control what you eat for longevity, health and appearance. No one has bought a ticket yet to see Sumo wrestlers perform ballet, but they have (regrettably) bought tickets to see a fashion show, where a skeletal body is the norm for hanging ballet clothes, and then these bodies typify what we as dancers, expect to see at a performance of actual dancing or in ourselves. Not fair? Who cares if they can’t dance, or can’t dance as well? Sometimes we are surprised that dancers are never like supermodels and when you see a real company of dancers, they are all muscular and few are starving. Well, some are very thin, but they do exercise more than average dancers and their calorie intake can be higher, also their basic metabolisms might run hotter more often. The first step is to reach that plateau, and then deal with adding calories, changing or inspiring your metabolism to work faster, and dancing all day and all night. La!
Sometimes we are even more surprised at the amount of actual energy required (and food) to perform variations, a full-length ballet, and support the work that goes into it, or more understandably how tired we are after a private, rehearsal or performance. The week after performances a lot of people are out. To remain healthy is a big job and the most important one. Sometimes time must be taken off to let the body heal, restore and replenish-rest. Sometimes that is just not possible and we have to be as fit and prepared for that inevitability, as dancers, as possible. Fit for dancing. Individual dance performances and exercise are short bursts of energy repeated after resting, usually, but any dancer who has just walked out from her half-hour private, will have the look of exhaustion and she is just working on a 2 minute piece. It takes some getting used to, building up for, and effort to sustain dancing for that long and you just do not get that at the barre. Even greater stamina is required for actual full-length performances, tours, seasons, and professional ballet in general. It is a constant juggling act, so I think food and dancers must be sympatico, because there is just too much on their plates already.
So, importantly, there are all exercise levels in ballet, but some must be obtained regularly to lose FAT. At your level of dancing this may not be possible, so you might have to crosstrain or get on the elliptical or spin or whatever to lose weight, just so the calories you are eating to work as hard as you must, do not exceed the calories you need, and are ingesting (fats, carbs and protein). Mostly you want to reduce your store. Be efficient, clean house. That has to be balanced against going home, sleeping, time off, illness, sabbaticals, and school, largely sedentary activities for a dancer. Dancers do not like to sit. Rather, you prepare the muscles at barre for the way they will be used in dancing and that is simply not fat burning exercise! So you have to eat less of certain things for now.
Slow-burning carbs are good choices for dancers, especially early in the day http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/list-slow-carbs-lose-weight-12116.html These would also include oatmeal (steel cut), and quinoa. For other kinds of energy, such as a pick-me-up or morning activity, and lets not forget the other kind of fast burning sugars/carbs for energy after sleep for instance, when your body is depleted of it. http://www.muscleandbodymag.com/10-carb-commandments/ of which canteloupe, an apple, orange or pear might do the trick, given time to work, and then followed by a normal breakfast of protein and slow-burning carbs for your classes. Many meals in the day provide constant energy and nutrients, which a dancer needs, and sustains them for long days of varying kinds of movement intensity. The idea is to keep fueling your body when you need it, and then to heal, regenerate and continue to burn fat and use energy you provide, even when it sleeps. Late night snacks are not verboten, just controlled-the same as dinner after 6. A midmorning and afternoon snack are just that, not meals, and anything from a piece of small bagel and water or yogurt and blueberries to some lentils and quinoa (pre-made) with tomatoes and chicken broth can do the trick, or cottage cheese, milk and a small serving of peanut butter, or meat. Just make sure your food is clean and wholesome with no added fats or sugars. Healthy fats are numerous and should account for about 20% of your daily intake of fats: avocado, olive oil, even butter can be healthy fats, but there are many to choose from. a characteristic of healthy fat is that its polyunsaturated fats fat count is much higher than either its trans or saturated fat levels, discernible from-reading the package or from a nutrition source. Also, avoid deli meats if at all possible, or within the “fat” rule, as most deli meats contain things you do not want and “oven-roasted is always better than any other kind as the meat is probably just rubbed as opposed to soaked in brine etc., before it is baked. But make sure. Cured or uncured does not necessarily connote this.
As performances for the novice, pre-professional or recreational dancer, just do not last that long, or come that frequently, there would seem to be little if any change necessary in diet, but as you go you do increase your caloric intake because you need more energy, such as for that variation, not less, and there is gap with regard to dancers who are new to this and virtually no help in understanding or dealing with it available. There is almost no mercy for students, because that is going to be displayed and no matter the age, they look at the package-how well you dance, pose, and what you look like. Sometimes there is device and trickery, but there is almost always a moment of truth for a dancer, when all is exposed and the fat shows or lack of lean muscle shows. The result of working so hard everyday should be visible, the labor, the effort, the pain, but it does not always meet our expectations and you cannot fathom why or what is causing it. Sometimes there are only minor things about ourselves that we want to change and as dancers we know that requires work-another small part of our attention focused on that trouble area to fix-no matter what we do, it is always going to be a juggling act. Learning to eat healthier is the first step to controlling the weight and to seeing a leaner you.
It might be our backs, the space right at the top of our thighs where there is a little bit of fat (legs rub together), it might be calves, arms, bosom, or torso, but it is usually there and looking right back at us when we look in the mirror, or noticeable to people onstage. Chances are, when we put on our clothes, or take them all off, everything fits, looks beautiful and is fine, and we love ourselves, so we say, “I am just fine.” We work on other things and we cave in to hunger cravings, and that is an important word, c-r-a-v-i-n-g-s, when we get a break. That is why we do not want to get caught out not having edible food, which we have prepared, or accounted for, handy. We eat whatever is available or easy or we have prepared to eat, but is this what we need to build the body we want? We have to teach ourselves what is right and acceptable for our own body chemistry and activity level and for every woman, this is a job, it is habits and discipline, and knowledge of ourselves, and time to develop. We have to work on it, sometimes inch by inch, because as dancers, our bodies are observed very closely, judged and they are our tools. Dancers later into life deal with other issues. So this project sometimes never stops, particularly if we have been unsuccessful in our dieting attempts, suffer from low self esteem, believe we come from FAT people, have big bones, are large, are flabby, and in fact, some of these diets can result in extra fat stores being accumulated just in case we decide to diet again, compounding our problems. Or if something is working, we often don’t change at all, but our bodies DO, making that diet ultimately wrong later on. The truth is, the body fights back!
The body is a survivor. It is the perfect example of the survival of the fittest. Fat people or people’s bodies who respond normally to having food taken away are healthier, stronger, fitter, champion bodies, because they have come across this before and determined to survive and keep your health, keep you alive, they fight back in a warrior-like and genius way. Bodies that disintegrate and lose weight, starve easily, or as a way of life, are probably not all that healthy-they don’t have a safety switch that turns off when they have depleted their bodies important store of nutrients. So take some comfort in your body working perfectly. They take what they need to survive, and they sort out the contents, nutrients, and various chemicals later, as their first mission is to inspire you, urge you, to eat. They might overeat to protect you, to prepare you, they are greedy. They are a force to be reckoned with. You cannot win that way.
Depending on your level of activity, you need to balance your caloric intake with a healthy diet, and most importantly one that provides energy, builds muscle, and enables you to carry on the endurance activities that professional or semi-professional dancing requires. Also, it needs to be palatable food, nutritious food, and you need to replace vitamins and minerals that you lose while dancing or exercising rigorously. Any student that takes a break from dancing can put on weight. Expect it. First, it is water weight and then it is fat. When you return to dancing the process starts all over again. The body re-adapts. Unless you have come off a starvation or carb or other diet where your body has been denied what it normally uses for energy, and it is in a recovery mode, hence storing up more glucose and fat for later use (and it will redouble its efforts each time), you are in a pretty good place to get to where you want to be, eventually, at that point in time. You may not think so, but you are. Any diet should start from a baseline approach, meaning eat what you eat normally beforehand for a few weeks. If your body is in shock and working to replenish those lost supplies, then you had better approach your diet in a more patient and less demanding way, anyway, because it will win if you try to trick it, starve it or control it too aggressively-that is a built in response. The real trick is to give your body exactly what it needs in terms of nutrition, water, fats and sugars, so that it doesn’t try to compete with your sylph. That way you both win.
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I found this on a dance diet Pinterest page, which is interesting to gander at when you have the time, but contains slightly different foods than I would expect to see listed for dancers-namely, the purple highlighted section toward the the bottom says “Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar.” NO. Definitely not. But it does show a lot of information being gathered in an attempt to discover the sylph as well as eat enough of the right kinds of food for dancing long periods of time, and as well underlines the need for information on this subject which is available for all dancers in one place. This search by dancers, on the Internet, most visibly, underlines the need for good advice and guidance in this area. You can check it out here http://www.pinterest.com/explore/dancer-diet/
In recent media, we would be told to believe that barre exercises alone will work those trouble spots, sit-ups and leg lifts will out those little fatty pockets, giving us six-packs and a space between our legs you could drive a truck through, but especially that “anyone can have a ballet body”, by just following a ballet regimen or ballet barre-dancers know is just NOT TRUE, no matter the specious facts which support it. I would find the references sited in this article useful possibly, rather than the whole question (and certainly not her answers) posed by someone who is evidently struggling with the concept at best. Yes, this information is published in a magazine (!) Yet, her sources could have answered some of her questions (some of them), but all dancers know this is full of absolutely false information and theorizing. Almost no facts. No facts. Be careful what you read on the Internet! I do not want you to think I am just dissing on dieting folks writing around the web, I am not-this is a random (more or less) search and find on dance dieting articles which I have come across and I am pointing out the benefits of researching further, not being afraid to be skeptical and of listing those questions you might have as you read, so that your answers become part of your own solution. But you can read the article here:
The fact is, the more you run, exercise, spin, aerobicize, yogasize, or do pilates, you can lose weight, build muscle, adapt, change, and the body will continue to adapt, if you starve it, or low-carb-it, or paleo it, and these things = big money for their progenitors, but do not work for everyone all the time or at all for some people, depending on many factors. I would say if you spin all day and do yoga you will lose weight, but you will not have a dancer’s body. You will also lose a lot of muscle, and information stating that yoga leads to a ballet body is also false. Weight lifters do not have ballet bodies. Much of this information is fad dieting and touts a weight-loss promoters form of diet and exercise as the best form of diet and exercise for everyone. Again, not so! Take a look at a 104 year old yogi-does he look like a ballet dancer to you? I am not saying crosstraining and yoga are not good for you, they might be, but for some people they are not necessary for losing weight or building lean muscle. In our case, yoga is good, certain kinds (Vinyasa, especially), for opening up the hips and stability, but I think if you are a dancer, you dance, primarily, because that is what you have time for. If you do other things, it benefits you, but it is a small part of your regimen.
For dancers, some workouts and diets may do more harm than good, and some diets may be extreme, actually dangerous for some people, and result in loss of muscle (skeletal, too). There is a lot of talk about cleanses, and purification, and in my day this was Ex-lax, enemas or diuretics. Fasting might be good for some people and they might swear by it, but if you are not basically dirty, eat well, are young, and don’t drink or smoke, then what exactly are you getting cleansing? Well, for starters, water, and lots of it, is absolutely necessary for everyone. So you must drink what you need of it-that is not dieting or cleansing-that is common sense. Muscles are 70% water and the rest of our body needs water, too. Naturally, we consume water, so to lose water weight, which will all be gained back, is not the best way to “diet”, and a lot of diets, a lot, start out by causing you to lose water and this is cheating and lying to yourself and your body-it knows, maybe you don’t. Too much sodium will cause you to drink too much water, so a low carb (all fat and meat diet) could make you very, very thirsty, but when people go on them they usually have trouble with raised sodium levels. No wonder! Can any diet that prevents you from pooping seriously be good??? Again, common sense. Ideally, you are supposed to pee out the FAT globules (in a perfect world). You can do so many things on this diet to mess it up, a lot of people fail on it anyway, and gain back all the weight (and water) in under a year, so that each time it is attempted, the end result is some weight loss, a sense of failure, and then inevitable weight gain. Carb dieters report that the first few days you are very tired and unenergetic (duh). This can be really detrimental for a dancer who needs all that strength and power to lift her leg and hold a pose! She could get injured horsing around like a drunken dieter (carb dieter alert-get out of the classroom, you could be detrimental to everyone else’s heath and safety! ) That euphoric feeling of fasting or starving could be like an alcohol or drug high.
So, where can a dancer get enough carbs, fat and protein (as well as all the vitamins and minerals to keep her healthy) while dieting and keeping or creating a superb form? The differences in diets may be like a sound board, where you increase the bass, treble and volume, and other incidentals, or lower them, ever so slightly, and the sound changes. While the layman may not readily hear, see or be able to quantify these minute differences, to the trained ear or eye, those changes will be discernible, and the proof is in the pudding or the product. In reality, little modifications to diet are very big changes to your system. Are you tired, worn out, malnourished, hungry, fat, too thin, lethargic? Only dancers can answer these questions about themselves and dieting is highly personal, too. Everyone has habits, psychological failsafes, and patterns as well as different personal taste, but only by EATING can you discern what you like.
I am not downing dancer industry I quite like (Irina and Max’s Booties), and dancers do go-to bars for a meal in a bite, but I have my doubts about whether Lara Bars, or any other product, actually provide enough sustenance and protein for dancers, and they are all very high in sugars. They are a snack, so stop treating them like a meal! The last thing I do thinks about bars are even though their ingredients may be wholesome, are they combined, what you need? Why not eat the ingredients clean? By clean, I mean, 7 walnuts, a half a dozen almonds, a fig, a date, rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon, chocolate and agave syrup, when all you really need is one yogurt and a handful of blackberries/blueberries right now, especially if you want to lose weight. A bar of any kind is all these ingredients rolled into one and equals a healthy candy bar. It does the same things, it weighs a lot, it has calories, carbs and fat, but not much protein. and if you want protein why play around? Get protein. Get it straight from the source. Those extra CARBS in that bar are excessive, not slow burning, may not be worked off in one classroom or technique class, and are most likely eaten at a time of day when you do not need that kind of energy-unless you are performing. It’s like dancers who eat nothing but ice cream for the casein protein I suspect. It has sugar! Tons of it and the alternatives to straight ice cream, like sorbet, or Ices, have as much sugar and virtually no protein, so are not healthy. If you want milk drink it, but drink organic because it has loads more (70%) omega-3 fatty acids because they feed them grass and “grass-fed usually means: Cows were meant to eat grass, not grain. But nearly all milk producers, including those that sell 100% Certified Organic, exclusively feed their cows grain. Studies are currently underway on the health benefits of dairy products produced from the milk of grass-fed cows. This much is known: grass-fed dairy products contain an increased amount of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)”. Nearly six times as much. Is this bad? Decide for yourself http://www.natural-by-nature.com/milk-organic-myth.htm
Eat healthy, but keep in mind that not all information is required to be on labels (for your protection) and in advertising, companies tend to try to sell product on the merits of it, but may omit other details which may be of significance to you. I will not say they lie, but most cannot tell the complete truth or their products would not sell. Sometimes just eating the best foods you can find, cleanly, is the best way to lose weight and eat healthily and you do not have to spend a fortune doing it. It is an elitist concept that “rich” or expensive foods are necessarily better. Sort of like the Emperor’s New Clothes. You can study all of this information later when you have lost the weight and are making decisions based on your new more lovely appearance and attitude. Not all of the facts about health foods are out yet and this is not about agriculture and industry as much as it is about you liking what you see and eat, and being able to afford to maintain an eating habit.
Dancers eat and train, they don’t diet and exercise. This stress, diets, constant vigil, trying to find things to eat that are readily available, rather than what you choose or plan, other exercises, aerobic exercises, can take that extra weight away, whittle it away and expose taut lean muscle of the Gods, alone, is a fallacy. Stress alone adds fat. All that expended energy doing crosstraining to burn fat can wear out your instrument, make you old, make you fat, and make you just plain give up and eat whatever is available. Largely, what you eat determines, chemically, what happens that you cannot see and there is no adequate measure for it, except the mirror, and your physical self, so I tend to advise not looking at scales very often. Anyone who has struggled with issues, like I have, will know it defeats you when you expect to see numbers but you don’t understand them and no amount of starving yourself lowers them. Losing weight and toning depends on diet, activity, genetics, body chemistry and desire/discipline but the scale can be a friend, eventually. I have lost more weight not dieting than all of the conscious efforts of someone who watches their weight. I use the scale now (when I diet) to check one aspect of the process, but completely ignoring it can provide better benefits to some people and less stress until you are communicating with your body intelligently and that means listening to it. It is like Google translate-the scale understands the weight, but the context of the conversation is lost in translation! It is the right diet that is important and staying on it until you begin to see results, the right diet of food! Eating enough, not less of the right things, and more caloric intake, rather than less is usually necessary, and which is ultimately important, should increase the more or harder you work. How many hours per week/day do you exercise? How many times do you nourish your body per day? What time do you slow down? Stop eating carbs? What kinds of slow-burning carbs are you eating and when? Protein? And do you allow yourself rewards or cheats? Do you pick at least 20% of your fats per day? Are they good fats? Do you drink enough water?
And for most of you, who think French food (or Italian food, or British, or Russian) is healthier, it depends on what you eat and when you eat it. These ingredients, bought on a shopping trip, would reflect the appetite of a cyclist racing across Europe, and not a tiny dancer. Why? You tell me. Even in Fre! nch, I can recognize the word “lard”. Canteloupe is one of nature’s only fruits which contains fast-burning carbs-but it is not a dinner item for a dancer trying to build lean muscle, because carbs should be eaten when we are or are going to be active-and sugars, especially, in the early part of the day, say before 4pm, or earlier. It is not suggested, when dieting, to have them later in the day or to subsist on fruits rather than certain veggies because there is a carb chart of veggies, just as there is for fruits, and variety is important in both, but you just should avoid fruit for weight loss and fat loss because all that sugar does is turn into fat. One reason carb diets work is because you are allowed true fats, butter, oils, whipped cream, fatty meats, in short all of things by nature you should know to avoid, they tell you to eat, because chemically our bodies do not turn fat into fat-we make our own-Out of sugars! But you are to starve your body of healthy foods to lose weight! These items were turned into this meal_
Which for many reasons, not alone the time of day eaten, a dancer does not need and should avoid. It is fine for a cross country cyclist, though.
Most people would say dancers are disciplined. Not necessarily. If they are professional, they must learn to be. Many of them possess a lot of incorrect information and subsist on that, starving themselves to eat their favorite things, and eat lots of things that they don’t like “to be healthy.” 1st of all, if you do not like something-take it from me-you will eventually reason yourself out of your diet unless you can find a way to make that food palatable, which usually involves putting something you do like into it anyway, thus ruining (possibly) the good of it. Making your own food is key to enjoying it though, and liking it, and being a lot more healthy.
We tend to argue larger portions of the foods we like balanced (?) by smaller portions of the ones we don’t and announce that we ate healthier. Some people need to completely revise their thinking about food and find good reasons for not eating things that are bad for you. Most of these foods are readily available, everyone else eats them, but like smoking, you have to try not smoking before you can say food tastes better and you should just avoid smoking for the health reasons. It is the same way with soda-I have never liked it, just the occasional small sip is enough to remind me that it is just too sweet, and a lot of times, when you train yourself to eat less sugar, less salt, you find later, when eating something pre-prepared that it is too salty or too sweet.
You have adapted your eating habits and are subsequently requiring less salt and sugar, or other things to satiate you, and the inevitable finickiness thereafter is rewarding to you. When you eat good things, bad things taste, well, bad. You have to try it to see if foods are naturally salty, naturally sweet, or whether butter is truly better than healthy fats, to get used to it. It doesn’t sound palatable necessarily, but some things are actually better when they ARE healthy. Feeling good is also about eating healthy and the more you do it, the better you feel.
For some people, adjustments alone, require that dieting may take longer than one expects-like for me. It takes time, but even small results are immediately noticeable. You may feel better, be more energized, and begin to get in tune with your body. It is pretty easy to get healthy foods anywhere now, and with the whole population going Whole Foods crazy, we forget that some things in cans, in cupboards, and frozen are still healthy. Health foods could put a world of good companies out of business forcing up the price of groceries by fulfilling demand for so-called healthier foods. Natural foods are a good thing and I have always known when I had too much meat in my diet because I tended to make less and eat less. But this is more psychological than nutritive or fact-based. Our bodies tell us something and we have to learn to listen, but that doesn’t mean we have to be food snobs to be healthy. http://content.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20121203,00.html
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Lean-muscled bodies in dance-that is what we have come to expect to see-in the media, at a performance, at competitions, on Instagram, on the Internet, in the movies, on So You Think You Can Dance, in the classroom AND in front of the full-length mirror, at home. Riiip! Stop right there! Not perfect, not seeing what you want to see? Not what others see? You are what you eat, and if you do not see that desired image in the mirror, you might feel somewhat of a failure. You might think that no matter what you do you are not ever going to succeed, improve or be the image you have in your mind that is perfect-usually. Your body may get in the way of your seeing yourself as the best dancer you can be, and feeling good about yourself inspire confidence. Aside from that, it may have nothing much to do with your ability to dance. Getting the body you want is not the same as not being able to rock a hairstyle, bodies are usually obtainable, believe it or not. But, you might be guilty of projecting someone else’s body onto your own. If anyone tells you you cannot achieve what you want to, prove them wrong!
You are unique. You have to believe that, but you are also capable of being the best that you can be, and the most healthy and strong dancer you can be. To me, and to a growing number of companies who invest large amounts of money in training, and lose dancers due to injury, this is also very important to succeeding in a professional career in ballet. Posers who do photo shoots might just be that, and it is possible that they are not as good a dancer as you are! A career lasts at least 20 years. What you do now will definitely impact the longevity of your dancing career as well as a competition in 4 months. So, you must make a commitment to eat right for the rest of your life and not just to lose weight, only to gain it back again, up and down and so forth.
Therefore if you are gearing up for the winter and you are a dancer you might want to try this plan:
NOT! Let me say again NOT!
It speaks of holidays and comfort foods and lots of starch and fat and sugar. But what is wrong with it? You say. “I am a dancer and I burn off calories-that is what I do. Well, for every calorie you burn off, another ten of these above turn into fat while you sleep. It isn’t just the sugar, it’s that all the right foods are there, hidden in gravy, butter, marmalade, cheese, sauces, and taters and other foods which you will have to eye cautiously over the holidays and during the winter, because this is what people eat. Regular people, not dancers!
In front of the mirror at the first self-assessment, any women or teenager might say,”I need to lose weight, maybe 5-10 pounds.” In the real life of any woman, every 10 years that need to “go backwards” goes up by 5 or 10 pounds, after you stop wearing the little tiny black dress, your brother’s jeans (with no butt), after babies, surgery, loss of work, a change of regimen, a more sedentary lifestyle, drastic change of lifestyle, health conditions, anything-you develop a bosom and may be lugging around more “desirable” fat, but it’s still fat and weight and adds numbers to the bathroom scale you can’t fathom. Also, we cook, and when we cook, we taste, we nurture and feed others, and have to shop and you know never to go shopping on an empty stomach. Everything looks good, but one benefit of having Madonna’s personal trainer is the likely aspect that she shops for you, puts it in your fridge and guards you from eating outside of your diet. She also works your butt off. Renee Winhoffer is her name. She is a dancer, too. In her words, “I plan and pack all my foods – and if I’m on tour I work with the hotels and cater ahead for specific foods. I often travel with my box of steamed vegetables and lean protein so I don’t get caught out. If I eat out, I make a special request for a green salad with some grilled fish or chicken and a little olive oil. And any time I have a hunger urge I drink 10 gulps of water and then wait 10 minutes.” She also states that if you want to see results in a week try not eating before your midday snack to attack the fat stores immediately in the AM. You can read more advice by her and other fitness gurus, here, http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/article/TMG9785991/Workout-and-diet-secrets-of-top-fitness-coaches.html .
However, I find that in doing research including that article one has to look at whether they tell the whole truth, do the same number of exercise hours per day as any given dancer, the same type of dance and dancing as you, and realize that one article and a few tips does not a meal plan make. There are plenty of questions I would want to ask, more on the technical side. Men differ from women, so I try to look at a diet that is good for women, too.
In reality, it might be fat you need to lose, or weight, most people have some, but it might be that more muscle needs to be developed (and are being) or exposed to best display our body’s assets and we have to give this process TIME and the right nutrients to help it along. We may be long of limb and tall, frail and tiny, or somewhere in between, but we can all be the best we can be. All women can relate to this, not just dancers. We all experience this self-doubt and analyze, and it is especially difficult for anyone, for any reason, in any case, and even those who have heretofore had perfect bodies, so no ones difficulties are less important than anyone else’s, whatever they are.
It is sometimes much later in a women’s life that she just asserts herself and accepts this body as her own, or decides to make it the best she can, when she is finally tired of ignoring it or trying to make it something else, feeling guilt or shame. I blame the media, Instagram, men, and sometimes families for making women feel they are less than perfect, and women for listening to them and not being strong and believing in ourselves. To be honest, ballet dancers must make a decision, and that is whether they have the discipline to eat only enough to maintain their exercise level, turn fat into lean muscle, and strive for the weight level required in partnering. It is not fair to maim your partner because you have to eat a cake. Just have to. For this reason, and for the body-beautiful a ballet dancer must be slim, as slim as is reasonably possible-maybe a bit slimmer than is reasonably possible, and she also has to eat right. Luceat lux vestra! But let your own light shine!
Krohn with Justin Peck in Balanchine’s “Four Temperaments.” Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Glancing at the long and sinewy Rebecca Krohn, one might not guess that the New York City Ballet principal eats about every two hours. But to keep up with the rigorous rehearsal schedule that comes with her job, Krohn has figured out a mix of strengthening, refueling and daily maintenance that keeps her on top.
On the menu: Before or after class, Krohn has a smoothie made with Greek yogurt, fruit, coconut water, spinach and sometimes half an avocado. “I also eat simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches throughout the day. They’re not filling, but they’re satisfying. And I always keep a chocolate and peanut butter Luna protein bar in my bag in case hunger strikes.”
Cross-training: Private Pilates classes three times a week in the off-season, and on Mondays in-season. “I have a little bit of scoliosis and I always feel more even after the sessions.”
Rolling out: “I have a ball for each part of my body: small rubber balls from vending machines at grocery stores that I use in between my metatarsals; a slightly larger ball for my plantar fascia; and the next size up I use on my calves and back. The biggest, called KONG Balls, are for the front of my hips. I found them at the pet store—they’re for dogs.”
Recharge: A 15- to 20-minute cat nap between rehearsals and performances. “I lay down and put my legs up against a wall to decompress my back. Plus, your feet get so swollen from standing all day, sometimes you can barely get your pointe shoes back on.”
Stamina secrets: A lean-protein–filled meal, like a chicken breast, two hours before curtain. “It’s enough to keep me going through the evening without getting hungry. I make sure I have water on hand, and adrenaline helps. Once you’re in the zone, you just do it.”