Editorial

For Dancers: Recipes For Fuel And Recovery

Food. A topic that dancers focus on pretty heavily! Today dancer/instructor Emily Kate Long shares some of her personal favorites with readers, along with some thoughts on eating. We’d love to hear from you too, so please feel free to add your own “go-to” foods in the comments section!   – Catherine

by Emily Kate Long

IMG_0519Dancers can be an interesting breed when it comes to what we put in our bodies. As elite athletes, our brains and bodies require a lot of fuel to get through long days of rehearsal and performance. Our busy schedules, however, often limit the amount of time and thought we can but into meal planning. And we all have our vices—I know a few dancers who would subsist on chocolate and kettle chips if they could! But, as the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. Content, quantity, and timing are all things to consider when fueling up for the day or replenishing calories after a performance. Here are some inexpensive, easy, nutrition-packed dishes to power mind and body. In the words of the inimitable Julia Child, bon apetit!

If you’re not a morning person, it can be all too easy to grab your coffee and pointe shoes and run out the door. When I was in high school taking 8 a.m. ballet classes, a friend introduced me to Swiss oatmeal. Talk about an easy and nutritious breakfast. There are a lot of fancy recipes out there, but you basically take two parts yogurt to one part whole rolled oats, stir in a little dried or chopped fresh fruit, and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The yogurt “cooks” the oats and softens the dried fruit. Before serving you can add nuts, frozen berries, or honey (or a few dark chocolate chips!) for crunch and sweetness. What you get is an awesome shot of textures, flavors, complex carbs, and complete protein to start the day. It’s my first choice for a go-to power breakfast, and a batch will keep up to three or four days in the fridge.

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For daytime fuel, it’s important to have energy-dense foods that aren’t bulky in your dance bag or your stomach. A lot of dancers rely on protein bars, which are great in moderation if you find ones like Barre, Kind, or Larabar, that are minimally processed. Hard-boiled eggs are another really good choice—a portable complete protein in convenient single serving. Cut-up fruit and vegetables with nut butter are also valuable fuel. As a bonus, the water content of fresh fruit and vegetables helps you stay hydrated.

I enjoy cooking as a way to unwind and get creative with culinary science experiments, but I don’t usually have time except on my day off. That’s when I cook a few meals’ worth of something and save the leftovers. Often, my base is homemade stock, a flavorful and wholesome staple I can use on its own or in recipes.

Screen shot 2014-04-16 at 10.09.53 AMStock is easy to make in big batches and can be super nutrient-dense, no matter what your level of skill in the kitchen. You need good-quality meat with bones, some water, and whatever vegetables you like. A whole or half chicken works well, or beef soup bones. High-quality meat can be pricey, but cuts of stew meat or soup bones are considerably more affordable, even if you’re looking for grass-fed or free-range.

As for equipment, all you need is a large pot. Throw in the bones, vegetables, and seasonings. I like to use celery, carrots, onion, and the tough stems of leafy greens, plus a ton of cracked black pepper and oregano and a little salt. Add enough water to fill the pot, bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for at least an hour. The longer you wait, the better it tastes. Once it cools, take out the bones and you have a tasty base for soup, pasta, or whole grains that’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and important proteins. Refrigerate some for up to a week and freeze the rest for up to a few months.

Screen shot 2014-04-16 at 10.05.14 AMLast (and maybe least, depending on your taste) I want to mention sardines as a power food for dancers. They’re inexpensive (under a dollar a serving, depending on where you live) and rich in omega-3s and protein. There’s also little concern about heavy metal toxicity from eating sardines, which can’t be said for other fatty fish like tuna and swordfish. The downside is that these little guys smell and taste pretty fishy. They’re definitely not a good choice to eat between rehearsals if you want your partner to come within ten feet of you!

These are my no-brainer superfoods. They work for me because they’re energy and nutrient-dense while still being inexpensive and convenient. I hope you give them a try. If you do, please share in the comments section, or add your own favorites.

dancer doing arabesque

Emily Kate Long, Photo by Avory Pierce

Assistant Editor Emily Kate Long began her dance education in South Bend, Indiana, with Kimmary Williams and Jacob Rice, and graduated in 2007 from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Schenley Program. She has spent summers studying at Ballet Chicago, Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Miami City Ballet, and Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive/Vail Valley Dance Intensive, where she served as Program Assistant. Ms Long attended Milwaukee Ballet School’s Summer Intensive on scholarship before being invited to join Milwaukee Ballet II in 2007.

Ms Long has been a member of Ballet Quad Cities since 2009. She has danced featured roles in Deanna Carter’s Ash to Glass and Dracula, participated in the company’s 2010 tour to New York City, and most recently performed principal roles in Courtney Lyon’s Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Cinderella. She is also on the faculty of Ballet Quad Cities School of Dance, where she teaches ballet, pointe, and repertoire classes.

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Finis: Ang-Yi Sheu – Studio 5 At City Center

by Christopher Duggan

Studio 5 at New York City Center is a dance event built around in-studio performances that really gives the audience an intimate look at the dances performed. Hosted and curated by Damian Woetzel, former dancer with New York City Ballet and current Director of the Vail International Dance Festival, the performances give his unique perspective on dance. His connections to the world’s most amazing talent makes the series a hidden gem in New York.

I photographed a performance in February by Fang-Yi Sheu, formerly of the Martha Graham Dance Company, and just as she was in Vail last summer, she was fantastic.

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Contributor Christopher Duggan is a wedding and dance photographer in New York City, the Berkshires and beyond. Duggan has been the Festival Photographer for Jacob’s Pillow Dance since 2006. In this capacity, and as a respected New York-based dance photographer, he has worked with renowned choreographers and performers of international acclaim as well as upstarts in the city’s diverse performance scene.
Christopher Duggan, Photo by Julia Newman

Christopher Duggan, Photo by Julia Newman

He photographs dancers in the studio and in performance, for promotional materials, portraits and press, and he often collaborates with his wife, Nel Shelby, and her Manhattan-based dance film and video editing company Nel Shelby Productions (nelshelby.com). Together, they have documented dance at performances from New York City to Vail International Dance Festival.

Christopher Duggan Photography also covers the finest wedding venues in the Metropolitan and Tri-State areas, in Massachusetts and the Berkshires, and frequently travels to destination weddings.

His photographs appear in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Knot, Destination I Do, Photo District News, Boston Globe, Financial Times, Dance Magazine, and Munaluchi Bridal, among other esteemed publications and popular dance and wedding blogs. One of his images of Bruce Springsteen was added to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and his dance photography has been exhibited at The National Museum of Dance and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

His Natural Light Studio (http://www.christopherduggan.com/portfolio/natural-light-studio-jacobs-pillow-photography/) at Jacob’s Pillow is his most ambitious photography project to date – check out his blog to see more portraits of dance artists in his pop-up photo studio on the Pillow grounds.

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Dance And The Grading Process

Intern Tess Losada

4dancers Intern Tess Losada

by Tess Losada

I got my first ever C in high school chemistry. My world of unfailingly perfect grades that I had always achieved with little to no effort came crashing down around me.

Though surviving that C helped me realize that a grade couldn’t actually stop my heart, I felt that same panic in my first college dance technique class. As my professor explained the grading scale, complete with skills tests throughout the semester, I wondered if I would be able to fulfill her expectations and get the A.

One of my favorite aspects of the dance field is how incredibly intelligent dancers are. Most dancers are also rather “type A”; willing to do anything to solve the problem and anxious to find the “right” answer. For individuals who are so driven to do things correctly, being graded on the very subjective facets of dance can be incredibly stressful. It can also be difficult to accept the emotional differences between dancing for fun and the new academic requirements placed on your dancing.

This semester, as I prepare to graduate with my degree in Dance Performance, I feel that I can look back on my undergraduate academic career and understand the grading process with a new mindset. I would like to offer future dance majors some ideas of the things I believe that myself and my classmates wish we had known four years ago.

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The Sport Of Spectating

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by Lizzie Leopold

Ask five people to define dance and you’ll probably get five different answers. Each dancemaker has a personal opinion (or opinions) about how to make steps, what those steps should look like, who should perform those steps, where those steps should be performed, and so on.  And there are even those choreographers (Paul Taylor, most famously) who would tell you that you don’t need any steps at all; stillness is dancing too.  So then, I’m back at the beginning. What is dance?

One of the common grounds that I keep returning to when trying to tackle this impossible question is audience.  All of the disparate genres, venues, styles, and approaches share the act of watching.  Sometimes the audience is also the dancer, starring back at herself in the mirror as she simultaneously moves and monitors.  Sometimes the audience is 4,000 deep in an opera house.  Of course there are exceptions (the private pajama-clad, living room jam session for one); but for this dancemaker there is always an audience.

IMG_2143With that idea settled, or at least settling, I can begin to ask myself more pressing questions about this common denominator.  Questions like: What does the role of the audience entail?  Is there a responsibility innate to the act of watching?  What are the different kinds of watching?  There is watching to judge and to criticize. And there is watching that works to examine and understand.  There is watching without thinking and there is watching with deep, critical engagement. Is there such a thing as gendered, racialized, or sexualized watching? Dance scholars like Susan Manning would tell you yes.  They would tell you that who you are, both how you see yourself and how you are seen by society at large, determines how you watch and what you see.  They would tell you that the historical moment you inhabit colors your vision.  They would tell you that like visual art, there is such a thing as the ‘period eye’ for dance spectators.  We are conditioned to watch in a certain way and to see certain things.

So how would I characterize a 21st century dance audience? What kind of spectators are we?  I believe that today’s audience, first and foremost, wants speed and efficiency.  These are qualities that we have come to expect from our world.  Technology has rendered us impatient; if a webpage takes more than four seconds to load it is refreshed or abandoned, and if the Lean Cuisine calls for a seven-minute cook time we are annoyed by the wait.  So, what is dance’s role in either catering to or subverting this need for speed?  I cannot answer that question for you.  I can only offer my opinion, as one dancemaker, in one moment.  And of course, as my world changes so will my answer.  But for now, here is a proposal:

Stage the act of watching.  Put the audience on the stage with the dancers so that they watch each other as much as they watch the dancing.  Ask your dancers to be better audience members throughout dance work.  Identify watching as an act of responsibility, witnessing as an act of humanity.  Try to blur the lines between dancing and watching; strive for a place where the differences between the two actions are imperceptible and the similarities are many.  Have dancers stare back.  Write a to-the-point program note explaining your intentions and your questions, thus feeding the need for efficiency.  Now your audience will spend less time ‘re-loading the page,’ having already understood its message.  And, all the while, recognize your complicity in this 21st century pacing.  Then end the dance slowly and, like the inertia that throws your head forward at the end of the roller coaster, imagine that the globe stutters on its axis momentarily.

IMG_1478This is just one answer, for one moment.  It is the answer that I will stage on March 28-30 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.  In this instance, as you can tell, I have given into speed and spectacle and I cannot wait to share the results.  In the past I have staged slow dances, long dances, dances with closed eyes (of course, a nod to Yvonne Rainer’s pioneering subversion here), and dances without explanation.  I watch all of my dances aware that there is no such thing as a neutral spectator or a passive spectator (with the possible exception of my father sleeping through childhood dance recitals).

And so I humbly ask, next time you enter a theater ask yourself what kind of spectator you are, and what kind of spectator you want to be.   What do you see and how do you see it?  After all, you, the witness, are a defining factor in the practice of dance and you hold its history in your remembrance.

Tickets for the performance can be purchased here.

Lizzie Leopold, photo by Matthew Murphy

Lizzie Leopold, photo by Matthew Murphy

Contributor Lizzie Leopold is a dancer, dance maker and dance scholar.  She holds a BFA in dance from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, with thesis work titled Choreography and Commerce: Tracking the Business of Dance Through the Rite(s) of Spring .  In fall 2011 she will begin work on an Interdisciplinary PhD in Theater and Drama Studies at Northwestern University, continuing to focus on the intersection of dance and business, both historically and theoretically.  Her writing has been presented at the Congress on Research in Dance 2011 Special Topics Conference, Dance and American Studies, and the Cultural Studies Association Conference 2011. She is also a contributor to the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University blog writing about their dance performance series.

Lizzie is the founder and Artistic Director for the Leopold Group, a Chicago based not-for-profit modern dance company.  She was awarded Best Choreography for Green Eyes, a new kind of musical in the 2008 New York International Fringe Festival and has been in residence at the Workspace for Choreographers’ Artists Retreat in Sperryville, Virigina and at the Chicago Cultural Center through DanceBridge.  In addition to choreographing, Leopold has danced with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  She also works for Audience Architects (www.audiencearchitects.com, www.seechicagodance.com) , a service organization working to build audiences for dance in Chicago, and is working to launch the New Books Network Dance Channel podcast.  She currently serves on the Alumni Board of Governors at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theater and Dance.

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Finding Balance – “Funnies” For Dancers

by Emily Kate Long

With March upon us, and no end in sight to Mother Nature’s blustery hostility, is it redundant to even mention winter weather?  The aching cold of drafty studios, the slushy trudge to rehearsal, and the stale film of salt laying everywhere are enough to dampen anybody’s spirit.

For this late-winter installment of Finding Balance, I offer you a collection of dance humor. It’s my hope that these comic nuggets will bring some sunny distraction to your day. Enjoy!

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“Mistake Waltz” by Jerome Robbins

First up is the “Mistake Waltz” from Jerome Robbins’ 1956 The Concert (Or, the Perils of Everybody). From start to finish, hilarious flubs in this five-minute dance for six women get me laughing every time. Every dancer can relate to wrong arms, wrong timing or that one member of the corps who never quite knows what’s going on. Do yourself a favor and watch all the way to the end—Robbins saves the best for last as the music ends and the mistakes continue.

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“The Concert” by The Ballets Trockadero

The errors in The Concert will elicit laughs of recognition. The Ballets Trockadero give us another kind of laugh in this parody of “The Dying Swan.” The Trocks know how to do funny, and this piece stands out for just how far they take irreverence for the iconic Fokine solo. From the molting entrance to limb-by-limb paralysis and campy curtain calls, Maya Thickenthighya really hams it up. What’s best is that for all the silliness, his (her?) pointe work and port de bras are actually lovely enough to do justice to the original.

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“Swine Lake” with Rudolf Nureyev and The Muppets

Last on the list is none other than Rudolf Nureyev and the Muppets in “Swine Lake.” I laugh at this clip for several reasons. I love the Muppet renditions of everything from Bizet to Queen, so of course I take delight in their customary butchering of a ballet. The irony of a life-sized pig dancing with an international ballet star is wonderfully ridiculous. The other irony here is time. As much as Nureyev revolutionized male ballet dancing, the feminine affectations of his style that some audiences in his time found objectionable stand out even more when compared to today’s best male dancers.

So there you have it, readers…some light-hearted treats to brighten up a winter’s day. If you have other funny favorites, please share them in the comments section!

dancer doing arabesque

Emily Kate Long, Photo by Avory Pierce

Assistant Editor Emily Kate Long began her dance education in South Bend, Indiana, with Kimmary Williams and Jacob Rice, and graduated in 2007 from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Schenley Program. She has spent summers studying at Ballet Chicago, Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Miami City Ballet, and Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive/Vail Valley Dance Intensive, where she served as Program Assistant. Ms Long attended Milwaukee Ballet School’s Summer Intensive on scholarship before being invited to join Milwaukee Ballet II in 2007.

Ms Long has been a member of Ballet Quad Cities since 2009. She has danced featured roles in Deanna Carter’s Ash to Glass and Dracula, participated in the company’s 2010 tour to New York City, and most recently performed principal roles in Courtney Lyon’s Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Cinderella. She is also on the faculty of Ballet Quad Cities School of Dance, where she teaches ballet, pointe, and repertoire classes.

 

 

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