Custom Made Pointe Shoes Competition Rules

by Admin11. April 2014 17:42

Competition Rules

This competition is open to all residents of Europe, which comprises the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, France, Republic of Ireland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. There is no minimum age limit unless specified otherwise in the giveaway information. There is no maximum age limit. Entrants cannot be employees of Ballet Makers Limited.

The giveaway is open to customers and non-customers. No purchase is necessary. 

Only one entry per person in permitted. Automated entries will be invalidated, including multiple entries from the same IP address. 

To be entered into the giveaway, entrants must email hello@capezio.com with a description of what their custom-made pointe shoes would look like. Your entry is valid provided you like the above mentioned Facebook post and email hello@capezio.com.

All entries must be received by Monday 14th April midnight GMT. All eligible entries received by the closing date and time have an equal chance of winning. Entries not submitted in accordance with the rules or incomplete or illegible entries will be disqualified.

The Capezio team will select the winner on Tuesday 15th April 2014. The winner’s name will be announced on Facebook. The winner will be notified personally as soon as reasonably practicable by email after the closing date. Full details of the prize will be given in writing upon notification.

It is a condition of entry that the winner consents to their first name to be published on Facebook for up to 15 days after the closing date.

It is a condition of entry that any entrants consent to receive the Capezio newsletter.

The promoter is Ballet Makers Europe Limited whose registered office is at 95 whiffler Road, Norwich, Norfolk, NR3 2AW.

Submission of an entry will be taken to mean acceptance of these terms and conditions.

All entries will become the property of Ballet Makers Europe on receipt and will not be returned. Entrants hereby assign to Ballet Makers Europe all worldwide copyright and like rights in their entries and waive all moral rights.

 

 

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The Ins and Outs of Pointe Shoes

by Admin3. February 2014 15:17

By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa.

As if dancing en pointe was not hard enough, taking care of your pointe shoes while you’re not dancing in them is just as important as your technique in the shoes. Here are a few useful tips to help you care for those magical shoes that help you dance your dreams.

Find the right fit

If this is your first time buying a pair of pointe shoes, make sure that you are fitted correctly by a professional. Wearing the wrong kind of shoe for your foot type could cause injury and limit your dancing. A shoe that is not right for your foot could breakdown more easily and not provide you with the support you need. Make sure the shoe will give you enough support to not “roll over” the box but is flexible enough that the shank can fit well into the arch of your foot. Everyone has different foot shapes and physical tendencies, and there are a myriad of pointe shoe styles to accommodate these differences. Remember to allow room for padding around the toes.

Sew ribbons and elastic correctly

Professional ballerinas all have their own preferences for how they sew ribbons and elastic, but some general guidelines apply.

If you’re using elastic, you will want to sew it so that it lays across the arch of your foot for maximum support. You can measure this off simply by putting on your shoes and measuring the distance of the elastic from side to side. Mark with a pencil on the inside edge of your shoe where the elastic should attach. After you cut the elastic to the appropriate length, you may want to quickly run a lighter over the edge to prevent fraying. Be sure to not put the elastic directly in the flame, only near it, and keep a glass of water nearby in case you need to quickly dunk the end of the elastic. If you are young, make sure to get your parents to help you with this. If you feel uncomfortable using a lighter, you can use clear nail polish on the ends. Then simply sew each end on the inside of your shoe.

In order to sew ribbons, first fold down the fabric of the heel towards the toe. Draw a line with a pencil where the heel edge meets the fabric of the sides of the shoe. You will sew the ribbons either on or slightly forward of this line, depending on your preference.  After treating the ends of the ribbon for fraying, fold over the edge of the ribbon one or two times and sew it to the inside of the shoe. If this is your first time, you might want to do a few loose stitches and try them on to make sure ribbons are fitting correctly before making tighter stitches. The heel and sides of the shoe should not gape when you stand en pointe.

Capezio pointe shoesLearn to break in your shoes properly

We have all seen those movies where ballerinas are slamming their pointe shoes into door jams and hitting the box of their shoes with a hammer. While all dancers have different needs, this is generally not recommended, especially for young pointe students, because these actions could break the box or the shank of the shoe in a way that is not supportive while wearing them.

To break in your shoes, begin by massaging the areas where you know you will need more flexibility, such as the sides of the toe box and the part of the shank which should mold to the arch of your foot in releve. Then, the next step is to simply wear your shoes around the house for a few hours. Rising to demi-pointe and walking in your shoes will give your shoes flexibility that matches the shape of your foot. Finally, you can give yourself an at-home barre warm-up in your shoes, working through demi-pointe, before you actually go to pointe class.

Dry out your shoes

In order to give your shoes as long a life as possible, it is very important to let them dry out after use. The moisture that accumulates in the shoe from sweat will cause it to break down more easily, which means you’ll be buying shoes more often. After wearing your shoes, try tying them to the outside of your dance bag instead of throwing them inside. You can also try putting them in a mesh bag that allows air to flow through. If you are dancing on pointe several times a week, it could also be a good idea to always have two pairs of shoes at a time and alternate which pair you use from day to day.

How to know when you need a new pair shoes

Wearing shoes after they have passed their prime is dangerous for your body, and you should always be conscious of the support you need from your shoes for your technique level. Your teacher should be able to help you tell when you need to buy a new pair, but generally, if you notice that you are rolling over the box, crunching into your toes, or leaning too much to the inside or outside of your foot, it might be time for a new pair. 

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Ballet and fashion’s historic relationship

by Admin3. February 2014 12:20

By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.

Since the very beginning of ballet, the dance form has both inspired and been inspired by high fashion. Taking a quick look into dance history shows a constant interaction between the ballet world and fashion world, both influencing one another in beneficiary ways throughout the centuries.

Perhaps this is due to ballet’s ethereal quality, an appealing trait to fashion designers seeking to give their clothing designs a sense of beauty and sophistication. Or perhaps this is due to ballet’s costume designers bringing their own style and professional fashion expertise to the stage. Either way, ballet’s association with fashion (and vice versa) is certainly undeniable.

Looking back at when ballet first originated, costume elements were already an important aspect to the creation and direction of the form. Ballet, which originated in Italian court and wedding dances in the 1400s, was often choreographed around the costumes’ best qualities and the dancers’ abilities to move in them.

As pioneering choreographer Jean-Baptiste Lully began his lifelong association with French King Louis XIV, ballet and fashion’s relationship continued to flourish as court dances grew more lavish in costumes and accessories. In the 17th century, Louis XIV, the King of France known for helping to found the first ballet academy, would often have extravagant costumes designed for hours-long court dances. The king was even nicknamed “the Sun King” for performing a ballet with lavish robes meant to evoke the sun god. In his lifetime, Louis XIV performed 80 roles in 40 major ballets, often having completely original costumes designed for each performance.

Coco Chanel's costumes for the Ballets Russes

Coco Chanel's costumes for the Ballets Russes in 1928. Source: Tina Sutton’s The Making of Markova blog (www.themakingofmarkova.com)

This aspect of ballet performance requiring original costumes only grew more customary as time went on.  In the 19th century when ballerinas such as Geneviève Gosselin, Marie Taglioni and Fanny Elssler experimented with new techniques such as pointe work, new shoe and dress designs were experimented with, often intriguing clothing designers. This brought forth the well-known balletic ideal of light and pure movement imagery. The Romantic Movement epitomized this with La Sylphide, a ballet portraying ballerinas as fragile, unearthly beings in costumes with pastel, flowing skirts baring the shins.

This balletic imagery has evolved again and again over the centuries, but it has always continued to inspire fashion trends. Ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev and his groundbreaking Ballets Russes were known for having a fruitful relationship with French fashion designer Coco Chanel. Chanel created costumes for four of Ballet Russes’ productions, notably Le Train Bleu in 1924 and Apollon Musagete in 1929. According to aNew York Time’s 2010 article, Diaghilev also hired boldface names like Picasso, Matisse and Georges Braque to design his costumes.

In 1949, Capezio dance footwear made the cover of Vogue and in 1952 received the Coty Award, fashion’s highest accolade.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn in 'Sabrina' wardrobe test shot on September 22, 1953. Photo © Paramount Pictures. Photo source: The Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund (www.audreyhepburn.com)

In the 1950s, film and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn made ballet flats fashionable in the movie Funny Face when she wore them with skinny jeans. Ballet flats are still being sold around the world today. Likewise, throughout the 1980s, films such as FameFlashdanceand Dirty Dancing made dance looks and themes trendy. Who doesn’t remember the fabulous 80s leg warmers? In addition to this, mainstream fashion was inspired by leotards, jazzy fishnets and slouchy t-shirts worn by dancers during rehearsals.

Another look fashion took from ballet is the conservative ballet bun hairstyle. While origins of the style date back to ancient Greece, the bun really received attention on the ballet stage, giving dancers the appearance of long necks. It soon became the height of style in the Victorian period and has continued into today. Classic ballet buns are still seen in various advertisements, films and on catwalks.

More recently in 2010, the controversial movie Black Swan starring Natalie Portman influenced spring runway lines. Chanel sent numerous looks down the catwalk that reflected the gothic, dark look of Portman’s Black Swan character.

Last year, Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani designed costumes for New York City Ballet. It was reported that Garavani emerged from retirement just to create the costumes for three premier ballets. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker, a former dancer herself, helped plan the event.

Boléro at the Paris Opera Ballet in 2013. Photo by Opéra national de Paris/A. Deniau.

Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci’s costumes in a new production of 'Boléro' at the Paris Opera Ballet in 2013. Photo by Opéra national de Paris/A. Deniau. Source: Paris Voque Magazine (www.vogue.fr)

And by no means was Garavani the first in recent years to design costumes for the world’s leading ballet companies. Even in the last few months ballet has been having a renaissance in the fashion zeitgeist. On May 8th of this year, luxury women's ready-to-wear clothing designer Joseph Altuzarra's ballet costumes made their debut in choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s pas de deux A Place For Us at New York City Ballet’s annual gala. In April, Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci’s moody, ethereal costumes debuted in a new production of Boléro at the Paris Opera Ballet, and David Hallberg, American Ballet Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet principal, graced a spread in Vogue.

Just last year, the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, devoted an entire exhibition to the relationship between dance and fashion, highlighting ballet costumes designed by Christian Lacroix, Ralph Rucci, Viktor & Rolf, Akira Isogawa and others. “Ballet costumes really are works of art with their ornate designs and incredible craftsmanship,” said The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister on the exhibit.

Overall, fashion and ballet’s history are often interlinked, if not actual mirror images reflecting the whims and trends of popular culture. David McAllister is reported to have simply said, “Ballet and fashion have inspired each other for as long as performers have been dressing up and dancing.”

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Sources:

- The Lure of Perfection: Fashion And Ballet, 1780-1830. Chazin-Bennahum, Judith. ‪Psychology Press. 2005.

"Dancing King: Louis XIV's Roles in Molière's Comedies-ballets, from Court to Town." Prest, Julia.  Seventeenth Century. 2001. University of Durham. Centre for Seventeenth-Century Studies.

Ballets Russes Style: Diaghilev's Dancers and Paris Fashion. Davis, Mary E. REAKTION BOOKS. 2010.

Apollo's Angels. Homans, Jennifer. Random House. 2010

- “Dance, expression and Audrey Hepburn.” Vashti, Lorelei. Behind Ballet, the official blog of The Australian Ballet. May 5, 2010. www.behindballet.com/dance-expression-and-audrey-hepburn.

-  “Ballet & Fashion” exhibit at NGV International. The National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne, Australia. media.ngv.vic.gov.au/2012/11/01/ballet-fashion.

- “En Vogue, En Pointe: Fashion's Influence on Ballet.” Wyma, Chloe. Blouin Art Info International Edition. May 14, 2013. sg.artinfo.com/news/story/902640/en-vogue-en-pointe-fashions-influence-on-ballet.

- “Black Swan Inspired Catwalks.” Kim, Deborah. Trendhunter. August 16, 2011. www.trendhunter.com/trends/trash-couture-spring-2012.

- “Valentino to Create Ballet Costumes.” Kepler, Adam W. New York Times. June 3, 2012. www.nytimes.com/2012/06/04/arts/dance/valentino-to-create-ballet-costumes.html?_r=2&.

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Can diet help you remember choreography?

by Admin3. February 2014 11:58

By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD for Dance Informa.

One of the many things I wish I had understood better when I was a professional dancer was the role of nutrition in memory and quick learning. Being labeled a “quick-study” can do as much for your career as your body type. We can’t control what kind of feet we are born with, but we can make a difference in how well our brains work through the power of nutrition.

Meal timing: fuel the brain

A common theme in many of my articles for Dance Informa, is the concept of “smaller, more frequent meals.” Providing a regular source of fuel to muscle and brain cells improves mental and physical performance, mood and fatigue levels. This means eating breakfast and then making healthy choices about every three hours during the day.
The brain runs on glucose from digested foods. No food in the system, especially after an overnight fast, means that brain function suffers. Providing fuel first thing in the morning improves test performance1. We have known for years that breakfast is associated with academic success, but one Chinese study actually showed that breakfast improved IQ scores in young children2. There was an improvement in brain function when subjects ate a low-glycemic index (LGI) breakfast3,4. LGI foods such as whole grains, fruits, soymilk, oatmeal and nuts digest slowly and provide sustained energy.
The nice thing for dancers is that eating breakfast and eating regular LGI foods will not only enable you to think faster, but will help you have a healthy body weight and decreased body fat.  See my “Glycemic Index” article in Dance Informa (April 2012) for more details.
Protein also has the power to help us stay focused longer. So if your energy promoting carbs have a protein to accompany them, you will be able to pick up choreography much faster. Try nuts, veggie sausage or even a tofu scramble. Keep eggs to a minimum because of the fat and cholesterol in the yolk.

“Power foods for the brain”

Dr. Neal Barnard’s groundbreaking book by this title describes a “Brain Enhancing Menu.”5 Instead of the food groups most westerners grew up with, he simplifies it into four main groups: fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. The many reasons these protect memory and boost brain function range from their low-fat content to their storehouse of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
I highly recommend getting four servings of veggies and two to three servings of fruits every day. One serving of vegetables is only ½ cup or three to four broccoli spears. Throw some on a cup of salad greens and that’s two servings right there. Add walnuts, flax seeds or chia seeds for brain boosting omega-3 fats and pumpkin seeds, garbanzos or edamame for protein, and you have a brain-boosting lunch. Blueberries have also been shown to protect memory so add ¾ cup of organic blueberries to oatmeal in the morning with some nuts and seeds and you will be labeled a “quick-study” in no time.

Foods and substances that sabotage memory

We all know that to maintain our lean dancers’ bodies we have to limit or avoid foods found in the typical western diet such as saturated fats, refined grains, cream, butter, bacon, red and processed meats. But now research demonstrates links between these unhealthy foods and memory loss. It’s not just about forgetting where you put your keys. Risk for Alzheimer’s goes up when people eat these types of foods. It seems that both fat and cholesterol affect brain function and are linked to the development of plaques that make it harder for your brain cells to communicate.5 Columbia University tracked 908 elderly New Yorkers over four years and those who ate the most meat and dairy had a higher risk of Alzheimer’s than those who favored a more “Mediterranean” style of eating.5, 6 Don’t wait until you are elderly to protect your brain. The good news is that eating more plant foods that don’t have saturated fat or cholesterol provide protection from memory loss, but they also boost mental and physical performance at any age.

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Sources:

1.      Rampersaud GC, Pereira MA, Girard BL, Adams J, Metzl JD.  Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 May;105(5):743-60; quiz 761-2.

2.      Early Hum Dev. 2013 Apr;89(4):257-62. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2013.01.006. Epub 2013 Feb 8. Regular breakfast consumption is associated with increased IQ in kindergarten children.

3.      Degoutte F et al. Int J of Sports Medicine 2006

4.      Tarnopolsky MA. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine 1996

5.      Barnard ND, Power Foods for the Brain.  Hachette Book Group. 2013.

6.      Scarmeas N, Luchsinger JA, Schupf N et al. Physical Activity, diet, and risk for Alzheimer’s disease. JAMA. 2009;302:627-37

 

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Nutrition

What it Really Means to “Use Your Core”

by Admin3. February 2014 11:39

By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa.

"Use your core, engage your abdominals, suck in your belly.... " These are all phrases that dancers hear over and over again. The idea of "using of your abs" seems fairly straight forward. Just contract your abdominals, right?

One of the difficult things about understanding the core muscles is that they are not easily seen. But wait, you're asking, what about all those images of men and women with 6-packs? Don't those people have strong cores? They might, but a visible 6-pack doesn't necessarily mean that a person has a good understanding of their core and how to use it. It does mean that they have very little body fat on their belly and that their rectus abdominus muscle is strong. What many people do not consider is that their core strength involves strength and coordination in many more muscles than the rectus abdominus.

Battling Misconceptions

When teachers refer to "using your core," they are actually referring to a coordinated muscular effort of several muscles in the abdomen, back, and sometimes even the legs. All of these muscles work together to assist with what fitness trainers, yoga teachers, and Pilates teachers often refer to as "core integration."

To understand core integration, it's helpful to know some basic anatomy. If you begin at the outermost layer of the abdomen, your rectus abdominus runs down the front of the belly from the rib cage all the way to pubic bone. This muscle is primarily responsible for postural support and spinal flexion, which modern dancers might have some familiarity with in the form of a "contraction." Below the rectus abdominus are the external and internal obliques, which run in diagonals along the sides of the abdomen to the front of the body and these muscles assist with side bending and twisting, among other actions. Finally, below the obliques is the powerful transverse abdominus. This muscle is often compared to a corset because it wraps all the way around from the back of the body to the front and aids with the compression of internal organs, breathing, and stabilization of the spine.

Additionally, core integration involves many muscles of the back, such as the quadratus lumborum, which runs from the base of the rib cage to the top of the pelvis. This muscle moves and stabilizes the spine in coordination with the eight erector spinae muscles that run up the vertebrae from the sacrum to the back of the skull. Likewise, certain leg muscles, such as the hamstrings, quads, or psoas, may be considered part of the core, depending on the movement. A grand battement to the front, for example, requires a great deal of strength in the psoas and hamstrings, in addition to abdominal support, in order to lift the leg above 90 degrees.  Finally, in coordination with all of these muscular actions, a pulling up of the muscles in the pelvic floor is also essential because it contributes to the internal compression that stabilizes the spine.

Considerations and Real Life Applications

Ok, so now that you know some of the muscles in your core, how do you use them?

One common mistake in dancers when they are told to "use their abs" is to contract their rectus abdominus so tightly, as well as their gluteal muscles, that their freedom of movement is actually limited. This often causes the pelvis to be "tucked," where the tailbone curves more foreword than is necessary. For most warm-up exercises in ballet and other dance styles, working with a "neutral" pelvis, where the sitting bones of the pelvis are pointed directly towards the floor and the spine retains its natural curves, allows for safe but free movement. Core integration should not restrict movement to the point of blocking mobility, but restrict movement only to the point of protecting the spine, pelvis, and surrounding muscles.

The key to finding proper muscular engagement in your core is often one of proper imagery and use of breath. For example, if you are standing in first position, instead of thinking of the front of your belly contracting, you can imagine that your belly button is sliding in towards your spine as you exhale, and then maintain that engagement while continuing to breathe normally. If you are unable to breathe normally, then you are either contracting too hard or not engaging the proper muscles. In fact, the additional compression that occurs in the abdominal muscles while doing this should allow the diaphragm to move more freely, and thus, allow for easier breathing.

Another important consideration when working on the core is the lower back. Similar to over-engaging the front of the belly, dancers often contract the muscles in the lower back too tightly, which can limit range movement and place the lumbar and sacral joints at risk for injury. In this instance, the tendency is to "tip" the pelvis forward and point the tail bone farther back than its neutral alignment. Once again, finding a neutral pelvis and spine is key to properly engaging the core.

For example, when doing a demi plié in first position, instead of thinking of tightening up around your lower back, first imagine that the front of your hip bones are narrowing towards each other  and that the pelvic floor is lifting. Then, as you begin to bend the knees, you can allow the back of the pelvis and the lower back to actually widen, creating more space around the sensitive places in the lower back while supporting the spine as you descend towards the ground. To come up, use your exhale as you lengthen the legs. 

Is Dance Enough?

If you are training regularly with knowledgeable teachers, a regular dance routine may be enough to achieve the core strength you require for your dance technique. However, it is not unusual to find that regular dance training isn't doing quite enough for your core to get you where you want. If you notice that your extensions are not as high as you'd like, your plies not as deep, or your upper body strength inadequate for partnering, it might be appropriate to consider alternative methods of training.

Cross training has long been recommended for dancers to combat injuries and provide extra care to their bodies. Taking on a regular Pilates or yoga class will most certainly help strengthen your core and your understanding of core integration. As with anything in life, consistent and regular practice will make the most difference, so it is important to set a schedule for yourself. Make sure that any class you take is taught by a certified teacher who understands the anatomical principles and the breath coordination necessary for core engagement. 

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Sources:

Perri, TaraMarie. Class Lectures. Mind ® Body Dancer 200-hour Teaching Training Course. September- May, 2013.

Martin, Lynn. Guest Lecture. Mind ® Body Dancer 200-hour Teaching Training Course. January 2013.

Deitzel, Rebecca. Guest Lecture. Mind ® Body Dancer 200-hour Teaching Training Course. December 2013.

Dowd, Irene. Taking to Root to Fly: Articles on Functional Anatomy. New York, 1995.

Clippinger, Karen. Dance Anatomy and KinesiologyPrinciples and Exercises for Improving Technique and Avoiding Common Injuries. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2007.

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Genevieve Eveleigh's health and dance tips

by Admin17. January 2014 14:49

We’ve asked Capezio Brand Ambassador and student at the Royal Ballet School Genevieve Eveleigh to share with us some of her health & dance tips. Check out her answers below!

Name: Genevieve Grace Eveleigh
Years Dancing:
I’ve been dancing since I was around 3 years old but I only started taking it seriously when I was 13 and was accepted into the Royal Ballet Mid Associates.
Dance Discipline: Ballet
Dance school: Royal Ballet School

Typical food menu for a long day at school: For breakfast, I would have granola and yoghurt with some kind of fruit. My favourites are pomegranate, kiwi or an assorted range of berries. Then for lunch, I would have a pasta dish that I would make before class, something simple like pasta with salmon or chicken. Id also have an apple or another fruit as its a light but filling lunch. Sometimes after class, we go for a frozen yogurt to fill a whole and as a little treat.


Favourite healthy recipe:
I absolutely LOVE smoothies! Theyre tasty and hydrating. My top two smoothies would have to be 1. Raspberry and mango 2. Strawberry and watermelon!

Favourite Capezio product to dance in: Tights. I couldn’t live without them. I don’t buy any other brand!

Favourite song to warm up withReally inspirational music gets me pumped for class. I really like listening to 'Rudimentals' songs as they have really great stories and words behind them. But to be honest, there is nothing I love more than a good Disney song before an audition; they put me in a great mind-set and it makes me so happy!


Showing that you love to dance is really all its about. Class is for technique and perfection but when youre on stage, I kind of have to push that aside and just feel the passion. The more you enjoy yourself, the more the audience will enjoy watching you.

 

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Capezio Athletes Share New Year’s Resolutions

by Admin13. January 2014 09:24

By Tara Sheena of Dance Informa.

Hear from your favorite dance artists and be inspired for 2014!

What’s your New Year’s Resolution? Do you make goals for yourself at the start of a new year, in the hope of becoming a better dancer, choreographer, or teacher? Even the industry’s most renowned dance artists set new goals for the New Year.  Dance Informa spoke to four of our favourite Capezio Athletes about their plans for 2014...

Tiffany Hedman

“What's next for me is actually a big question. I'm not someone who is complacent and satisfied staying at one even level in any area of my life. I want to be constantly enriching my life both on and off stage. I've decided to relocate and embark on a new adventure with a different artistic home for this new season ahead of us. I am taking steps forward to reach my ultimate goal and although it is hard to leave behind such wonderful memories, I take all of it with me in my heart.”

Sarah Hay

Sarah Hay. Photo by Ian Whalen.

“My hopes and dreams are to have my family healthy and happy, to find peace in my life and to inspire others as well as be inspired. I don't have any resolutions that are just for the New Year, I like to constantly be challenging myself all year long to achieve what I have set out to.”

Sarah Hay

“I think 2013 was a year of big personal growth for me.  I am very happy to be where I am and I am very fortunate to have everything that I have.  My goals for the future are almost the same every year.  I hope this year brings new experiences and more good work to be done.  I also wish to become even more of an open book to connect with the audiences.  I want the audience to be able to feel my emotions.  What I love about this career is that there are always things to improve and discover which will make personal growth a goal for me until the end of it.”

Sabra Johnson

“I'm in my third year of dancing with a dance theater company - Tanz Theater Darmstadt in Germany.  When I started I had no idea what that was.  Turns out it's extremely eclectic and entertaining!”

Adrienne Canterna. Photo courtesy of Adrienne Canterna.

Adrienne Canterna. Photo courtesy of Adrienne Canterna.

“My director, Mei Hong Lin, is fantastic— she is demanding but has a clear vision.  She gives us a basis for our character or scene and then complete freedom of choreography.  I have found it exciting, fun, and interesting, but mostly it can drive me CRAZY having to continually recreate myself!   But that is exactly the best part.  I grow and grow and grow, and in other ways I would not have foreseen. But when I look back I know I've learned, and that is satisfying.  I'm not sure what this new year will bring, but I'm hoping I can be better yet!”

Adrienne Canterna

“I'm so excited for 2014. What a blessing it is to be given a new year to dream, live, love, work and grow! In 2014, I will watch my sweet little girl graduate from kindergarten, start 1st grade and hopefully continue to excel in dance and gymnastics!”

“I will continue to tour the world with my company Rasta Thomas' Bad Boys of Dance with our two shows, ROCK the Ballet and Romeo & Juliet. We will tour over 10 countries and countless cities, giving up to eight shows a week throughout the year. What a joy it is, to share the gift of dance to fans across the globe!”

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5 Foods That Dancers Must Eat

by Admin7. January 2014 13:30

By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD for Dance Informa

Dancers are performing athletes. As a former professional ballet dancer myself, I wish I had better understood what a big impact eating good food can have on performance, risk for injuries, and of course, how we look in a pair of tights. Now as a nutritionist for dancers, my message is always to eat well and choose foods wisely. But how is a dancer to know what good choices are? Here are my tips for the top 5 foods (or food groups) that dancers must eat.

Apples, blueberries, pineapple, and pretty much all fruits

Fruit is the perfectly portable pre-rehearsal snack. Having trouble remembering that ballet you learned last year? Flavonoid-rich foods like blueberries have been shown to enhance spatial memory and speed rates of learning. The dark red skins of apples and grapes contain polyphenols, which have a protective effect against oxidative stress. Pineapple has been shown to reduce inflammation.

These high-water content foods, which are packed with fiber, vitamins and phytonutrients, are low in calories and have almost no fat. The body absorbs Vitamin C much better from an actual piece of fruit than some mega-dose powdered mix. Fruits have been given a bad rap for their sugar, but it is naturally occurring fructose not the processed sugar you find in bars or beverages. The quick burst of energy they give you can be a good thing when eaten during a short break or intermission. Avoid fruit juice and stick to the whole fruit.

Beets, greens, and other performance enhancing veggies

A certain cyclist may have taken the term “performance enhancing” to a different level, but in sports nutrition we know that certain veggies do actually help athletic performance. All veggies contain bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids and lycopene. Sure they fight cancer and all, but they can also help you on stage today. Naturally occurring nitrates in foods like beets, arugula, spinach and rhubarb have been shown to significantly improve performance with better power output and speed. Dancers might see benefits by eating more of these veggies and/or drinking beetroot juice. Nitrates help the body deliver more oxygen to working muscles and increase muscle endurance. Nitrates from pills have not shown the same benefits as eating the actual veggie containing them. Regularly eating beets, kale and other veggies will help you get through those tough pieces of choreography.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain with a long history, but it is becoming very popular today. It is one of the only grains that is a complete protein. It also cooks faster than rice, absorbs flavors nicely, is cheap and a great source of energy promoting carbs. Carbohydrates are the preferred source of fuel for all athletic activity so dancers should be trying to get a broad range of carbs from whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, wheat, barley, rye and oats. Cook quinoa in water on the stove just like you cook rice - one cup of quinoa to two cups water or vegetable broth. 

Almond Milk

Dancers are at higher than average risk for stress fractures. It’s time for dancers to think outside of the (milk) box for getting more of their crucial calcium and Vitamin D. One cup of a leading brand vanilla almond milk contains 45 percent daily value of calcium and 25 percent daily value of Vitamin D. Plus, it is a beautiful source of Vitamin E, which is often lacking in dancers’ low fat diets. It also has zinc and Vitamin A, which are both important for a strong immune system. Keep in mind that bone health is more than just calcium and Vitamin D. Did you know that Vitamin K is important for strong bones, prevention of stress fractures and osteoporosis? Good sources are leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard and even broccoli - yet another reason to love greens!

Black Beans

Getting more of your protein from plant-based sources and eating less meat is the single most important thing you can do for prevention of disease. I consider this right up there with not smoking. Beans are a very inexpensive and easy way to consume protein, iron, zinc, fiber and disease-fighting phytonutrients. For example, one half cup of black beans has only 114 calories but about eight grams of protein. Dancers need multiple sources of protein but don’t have money to spare. You can make a great pot of three-bean chili in a slow cooker for less than $2 per serving. A full cup of organic pinto beans only costs $0.33. Throw all the ingredients together in the morning and your slow cooker will take care of the rest.

How do you put all this in practice? Here is my Protein Packed Quinoa recipe which uses most of these ingredients. Drink a side of Almond milk and you will feel and dance great.

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup cooked black beans
½  pineapple chopped into small pieces
2 mangos chopped into small pieces
2 limes, squeeze the juice into separate bowl
1.5 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups water

Preparation:

Boil 2 cups of water in medium pot. Add quinoa and reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer cooked quinoa to large bowl and add pre-cooked black beans, pineapple and mango. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk dressing together using lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, salt and red pepper. Mix well. Add dressing and mix well.

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Nutrition

Drinks that Dancers Should Avoid

by Admin7. January 2014 13:05

By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD for Dance Informa.

Dancing is thirsty work! We all know that hydration is important, but you shouldn’t drink just anything. If you’re serious about your dancing and your health it’s important to select the right drinks to quench your thirst. Generally, most things in moderation are fine.  However, some drinks can have serious health effects and should be avoided.

Avoid Energy Drinks

Now more than a 5.7 billion dollar per year industry1, the FDA is investigating reported deaths and injuries possibly associated with these caffeine bombs. In the US, the FDA is considering action limiting energy drinks and some of their false marketing2,3.  One energy drink has about the same sugar as 30 jelly beans, but the jolt of “energy” that you get isn’t so much from the sugar as it is from the 200-350 mg of caffeine in each can. Real energy to dance only comes from when you eat and metabolize actual food.  The high sugar in some of these products does give you a short burst of quick energy, but it’s the caffeine that stimulates the central nervous system.  Certainly, a little caffeine is fine and can make you more alert.  However, excess caffeine each and every day places dancers at higher risk for injury for three main reasons.
- Caffeine is an appetite suppressant and it makes you jittery, so dancers might accidently or intentionally exercise without enough real fuel (calories) which can lead to an injury.
- Energy drinks lead to increased fluid losses from the body and the first two signs of dehydration are fatigue and poor balance.
- Energy drinks and other drinks with high caffeine are often acidic which can lead to increased calcium loss from bones, placing dancers at higher risk for stress fractures long term.

Avoid Juices, Powders and Shakes with Excessive Doses of Vitamins    

Generally the body doesn't absorb nutrients well when they are taken in unnaturally high doses all at one time.  Our bodies absorb nutrients best when obtained from real food because food contains other co-factors in just the right amounts that help vitamins absorb into our systems the way they were meant to. Dancers should take supplements with caution, including drinks containing supplements.

B vitamins are often added to juices, bars, and energy drinks.  But very few people are actually deficient in B vitamins when they eat a normal diet.  B vitamins themselves don’t give you energy; it’s the carbs, fat, and protein that do that.

Be careful of vitamin C drink powders.  We typically need between 45-85 mg of vitamin C per day, not 1000mg!  All that vitamin C is in the form of ascorbic acid, which if taken in high doses results in calcium loss from the bones.

Some supplements are OK and can be needed. Vitamin D, for example, is hard to get from your diet and dancers aren’t always out in the sun. So dancers might need to supplement with 400-600 IU.  But don’t go overboard! Vitamin D in extremely high doses can be toxic.  Talk with a dietitian to see what you personally need and in what quantity.

Avoid Sugary Beverages

Dancers can’t afford to drink empty calories.  Many sodas, teas, and juices can have more sugar than a bag of candy.  Diet or sugar-free drinks have artificial sweeteners that can be up to 600 times sweeter than regular table sugar.  They change our perception of what sweet tastes like by tricking the taste receptors in the mouth.  So we lose the sweet joy of a summer strawberry or winter carrot.

Sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol, etc) are also low-calorie but can cause stomach upset and gas if you consume too much of them.  Even many so called natural sweeteners are still processed. Don’t be fooled by the term “natural”, it is quite meaningless when it comes to drinks and most foods. This word is only legally defined when it comes to meat, chicken, or eggs.

Women who regularly drink sugary beverages might be at higher risk for heart disease and stroke, even if they don't gain weight. Sugary drinks are a factor in a woman's waist size getting larger, even if her weight stays the same. Just making a small change to drinking mostly water can make a big difference over time4.

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Sources:

1. Malinauskas BM et al.  A survey of energy drink consumption patterns among college students. 2007  www.nutritionj.com/content/6/1/35

2. www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/business/scrutiny-of-energy-drinks-grows.html

3. FDA Investigation into adverse effects of energy drinks. www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofFoods/CFSAN/CFSANFOIAElectronicReadingRoom/UCM328270.pdf
www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ucm328536.htm

4. Tufts University Health and Nutrition Newsletter 2013.

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Nutrition

Understanding Yoga for Dancers

by Admin3. January 2014 13:08

By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa.

It seems that everyone is doing yoga these days, and dancers are no exception. In New York City, yoga studios are cropping up on every corner, offering a myriad of class options and styles, all with a different heritage and place within the tradition of the yoga practice.

Despite differences in approach – most forms of yoga are in contemporary – western life all promise the benefits of improved strength and flexibility, which also happens to be two of the most common cornerstones of most dance techniques. It’s no wonder that the physical component of the yoga practice is a natural draw for many dancers to get on the mat. But you might ask – what keeps them there? How does yoga actually contribute to a dancer’s technique and performance skills? Is there something more to the picture than the physical training?

Making Observations

TaraMarie Perri, an experienced yoga practitioner and certified teacher, is also a lifelong dancer and faculty member at the Dance Department of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. While pursuing her MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography at NYU, Perri began looking for outlets to experience her body in new ways. Perri, a self-professed “nature nut,” had always been interested in alternative practices of connecting to nature and energy, and she reasoned that the physical element of yoga would probably pique her artistic and athletic curiosities as a dancer. But when she took her first yoga class at a studio in New York’s East Village, she did not expect that a whole new world of understanding the mind and the body would become available to her.

Yoga for dancers“Yoga was way more intellectual than I’d ever imagined. It was so vast. It taught me about my body in a different language,” says Perri.

This language proved to be a new and valuable tool she could use on the mat in yoga practice, or off the mat in dance class or performance. Eventually, Perri received her yoga teaching certification, and when she began teaching, she realized that there was an opportunity and need to share this valuable information to performers and non-performers alike.

“When I started teaching yoga, I started to realize there were some core lessons and ways to compartmentalize the information to share with others,” Perri says.

In 2009, Perri founded Mind Body Dancer ®, “a community for teachers and students of yoga.” Offering classes and workshops internationally, around the country, and throughout the city in studios such as Steps on Broadway, Mark Morris Dance Center and Broadway Dance Center, Mind Body Dancer ® specializes in teaching mindful, Vinyasa-style yoga classes that emphasize sustainable movement pathways and overall mind/body wellness. Mind Body Dancer ® is also part of the curriculum at the dance department of NYU. With ongoing research and education in the arts and sciences and an active teacher-training program, Mind Body Dancer® offers dancers, and non-dancers, the opportunity to observe and learn about their bodies and minds in a safe environment.

Perri says, “While dance training can often be product-oriented, yoga can be more experiential. It can give dancers a new framework to view their instrument, which frees up the performer self to be an artist.”

TaraMarie Perri

TaraMarie Perri. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Finding Balance

One of the ways in which this framework can help dancers is an understanding of individual anatomy and how it functions uniquely for each person. Perri recommends that, even though the student is ultimately responsible for his or her own body in any class, it is important to practice yoga with a teacher who understands anatomical alignment and the limitations that are possible. This will allow students to learn about anatomy with a fresh perspective outside of dance vocabulary, and it will also help students to find a balance between strength and flexibility, which can combat the repetitive stress training that sometimes occurs in dance.

For example, Perri looks to the hips and a classically-trained dancer’s constant concern with turnout: “Alignment-based teachers know that external rotation of the femur in the hip joint does not equal turnout. There are many possibilities between internal and external rotation, and within that range you can find stability in the joints. It’s about protecting your alignment AND finding better function. Where can you function best within your rotation and still maintain the aesthetic of the dance form you are in? It’s about finding the balance and intentionally standing there that way,” she says.

Beyond the hips, Perri acknowledges yoga’s power to support dancing bodies in a myriad of ways. A consistent yoga practice can teach students how to stabilize their joints at the barre, how to harness the upper body’s strength in floor work and partnering choreography, and how to tell the difference between hypermobile joints and true muscular flexibility. In effect, moving through a balanced, creatively-sequenced Vinyasa class ends up working the entire body.

Perri says, “Take the feet, for example. Through the cycle of postures, especially the Warrior postures, the foot works in so many angles, and the foot is taught proper support and stability. The foot gets a chance to move in all the ways that it can, which can support dancers of all training and backgrounds.”

Additionally, the yoga practice teaches the coordination of the breath with movement, so that breathing and movement become a dynamic system that work together to support the body and the mind.

Yoga for dancersMaking Connections

“Part of yoga is training the body, part is training the mind, but training the mind body connection is a different instrument,” Perri says.

With this perspective, Perri affirms that there is much more to yoga than understanding anatomy and the physical body.

“The yoga practice should be viewed as support for life, as opposed to support for dance training. It is cross training, but it’s also something else. Looking at it simply as cross training limits yoga’s capacity to go into cultivating the artistic side of the dancer…There is an energetic, subtle metaphysical experience that can happen that is not at all about cross training,” she says.

For dancers of all ages, whether their dance study is recreational or professional, a life in dance can be full of stress, pressure and demanding schedules. So while the additional physical support that yoga can bring dance students is important, Perri recommends that students practice yoga that includes restorative postures, breath work and lessons in self-care.

“A dancer’s life is crazy and erratic. It’s hard to manage class and rehearsal with school or work. Skipping the self-care aspect of the yoga practice will lead to injury. A power yoga class will teach the same information that dancers are already receiving in their dance training. The best compliment to a long day of dancing is restoration and care,” she says.

Perri also brings up some special concerns for young performers. In most dance training, teachers and directors expect progress in a student’s technique to be linear, but adolescent dancers are going through growth spurts and hormonal changes that may affect how their dance technique progresses. Yoga can be a place where linear goals are replaced with experiential learning that teaches dancers about their changing bodies while giving them a place to also learn about their minds. Additionally, there can be a lot of pressure on young students to begin deciding if dance is a recreational or professional path. Perri says that the yoga practice can help young performers manage the stresses and trials along the path of a possible dance career.

For dancers of any age, but perhaps especially for experienced veterans, Perri asserts that yoga can also be a way to become re-inspired. Dancers are typically not strangers to difficulty, so the yoga practice can feed their love of challenge. In a Vinyasa class dancers can find real enjoyment and comfort in the connected movement from posture to posture, not unlike a dance sequence. The lessons in mindfulness and observation can directly translate to a dancer’s experience on the stage and open up a new awareness of performing. At any point in a performing career, professional or otherwise, yoga can feed and care for the total artist.

Perri says, “Yoga can awaken you if you’ve felt bored. You become curious about digging in. It can be this playground you can always come back to that is endlessly fascinating.”

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