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What is a Ballerina???A ballerina (Italian for female dancer) is a title used to describe a principal female professional ballet dancer in a large company; the male equivalent to this title is danseur (French) or ballerino (Italian). Although the term ballerina is commonly used informally to describe any female ballet dancer, it was a rank given only to the most exceptional female soloists. The opera singer informal equivalent is diva. More or less, depending on the source, the rankings for women, from highest to lowest, used to be: • Prima ballerina, première sujet or première danseuse • Sujet • Coryphée • Corps de ballet For men, the ranks were: • Premier danseur noble • Premier danseur • Sujet • Coryphée • Corps de ballet Today, ballet companies continue to rank their dancers in hierarchical fashion, although most have adopted a sex neutral classification system, and very few recognise a single leading dancer. In most large companies, there are usually several leading dancers of each sex, titled Principal Dancer or Etoile to reflect their seniority within the company. Other common rankings include those of Corps de Ballet and Soloist. The title of Prima Ballerina Assoluta is rarely used, and it is usually reserved as a mark of respect for an internationally renowned dancer who has had a highly notable career. Dancers who are identified as a Guest Artist, are usually those who have achieved a high rank with their company, and have subsequently been engaged to dance with other ballet companies around the world, normally performing the lead role.
Dear Jodee care of Prothinspo… Hi, I am an aspiring ballet dancer and I was wondering what the professional ballet dancers eat. How do they stay so strong and so thin at the same time? I know there are a lot of misconceptions out there... thanks, Love always, Cindy Erman New York
Dear Aspiring Young Dancer:
What a terrific question. Good nutrition is one of the most important parts of being a good dancer, and the earlier you eat well, the better chance you have of being your best in daily class and on stage. Nutrition is a huge and sometimes complicated field, but it’s never too early start learning how to eat for maximum performance and maintaining a trim body (but not too thin).
Restricting calories is not encouraged today because of problems in the past of dancers becoming too thin. The emphasis today is on eating the right kind of foods that have “staying power” yet don’t add excess calories to your diet. So a few basic rules about food are a great place to start:
1. You must eat, and eat regularly in order to have the strength that a professional dancer needs. But when you are no longer hungry – stop eating. Learn to recognize the signal in you that says you have had enough, and simply stop. The philosophy of “always cleaning your plate” has turned out to be rather bad for us.
2. Choose foods that digest more slowly so they will give you energy over a long period. Dark courser foods such as brown rice, dark breads (especially whole wheat), and yellow vegetables are only a few. Refined carbs such as white bread, white rice, deserts, and anything made with white sugar tends to be rapidly digested by your body, only to leave your system quickly release insulin, clearing your system of the fuel and leaving you hungry again way too soon. With refined and high sugar foods, people eat more frequently, adding unnecessary calories to your system, and leaving you with less energy.
3. Go really light on meat, especially red beef. These foods have the protein you need to make new tissue, but they are also extremely high in animal fat which is loaded with calories and the “bad” kind of fat (saturated and transfats) which promote plaque build-up in your arteries. So not only do you gain unnecessary weight, but beef and fatty meats contribute to heart disease later in life.
4. On the other hand, all growing children and teens need adequate protein to build proper muscle and bone. The best sources are fish, chicken without the skin, and nuts which – all of which contain the protein you need, less calories than beef and hamburger, and the “good” fats (polyunsaturated) which prevents plaque in your arteries.
Lastly, one important point to understand is that ballet is not “aerobic”. Because of the “start/stop” nature of ballet class, your heart rate rarely rises to a high workout level, and it certainly doesn’t continue beating fast as your heart does with running, soccer and many other sports. So most professional dancers have learned that doing 30 minutes of a “non-stop” activity a couple times a week such as stationary biking, brisk walking or using an elliptical machine will not only increase stamina but will help burn calories. Studies have shown that these activities do not build bulky muscles or detract from the long straight leg so prized in dance. And the real pay- off is that you are giving yourself years of healthy life. Regular aerobic exercise should be a life- long habit with all of us.
I hope this helps. May I offer one excellent source on healthy eating that works for dancers beautifully, because the advice it gives maximizes good energy, healthy growth, and only the number of calories that you need. The very best of luck to you.
The Dance Diet Lose weight while maintaining the energy you need for dance class.
A couple of years ago, this article was originally wrote for a dancer, whose main concern was to lose about ten pounds while having enough energy to attend 2-3 dance classes a day plus rehearsals. So, I came up with Plan A. See below. Time passed, and the dancer had sustained a knee injury. Suddenly, he couldn't take class every day, and didn't have rehearsal three times a week. So now he had a different set of circumstances, and he still wanted to keep his fighting weight so he would be in pretty good shape when he could dance again. If you're in that boat, see Plan B. See below What's the difference between the two plans? In a word: carbohydrates. In Plan A, It gives the dancer plenty of carbs in order to recover from a heavy load of physical activity, and in keep the protein pretty low, since too much protein really can make some dancers feel sluggish in class. Plan B is scaled back for minimal activity, e.g. physical therapy/weight-training with a little water aerobics thrown in, or just a few dance classes a week while you're getting back to speed. Pick a low-carb diet ( click here) the pounds literally fall off as soon as someone cuts out bread, potatoes, and other starches. You may want to try my methods, or use them as a springboard to come up with what works best for you. The great thing is that once you find what the key to your own metabolism is, you learn so much about yourself. Everyone’s body is different…Dance ON!
His diary how he worked plan A And plan B… Plan A Before I became a dance maniac, I'd used a number of different diets to lose the ten pounds that always seem to creep up on me. Most involved calorie or "points" counting, and I also had a go-round with food combining. There was usually a punitive aspect, whether that manifested itself in daily or weekly weigh-ins or in simply the guilt-ridden feeling that I had not stuck perfectly to the plan. It always felt as if something were being imposed on me from the outside in -- which it was! When I started to dance seriously and wanted to get into better shape, I remember reading something called The Dancers' Body Book, which claimed to tell us what famous ballet dancers did to keep their much-lower-than-average weights. What I learned instead, is that dancers themselves don't seem to have much of a clue when it comes to nutrition. So, I began to look elsewhere for guidance. And I also wanted to come up with a plan that I fully understood, so I wouldn't have to feel guilty about minor infractions. I believed that really understanding what a diet was trying to do and how it worked would make me a "partner" with the diet, rather than feeling that the diet was the authority figure and that I was the errant child. After a great deal of reading, and using myself as a guinea pig, I have come to what I feel is my solution to the diet thing. I took a basic diet for long-distance runners, and started to tailor it to my own needs. Like runners, we too want lean muscles and a high level of endurance. I started out with a ratio of 60% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 25% fat -- and I felt as if I was going to explode from all the carbs (even though I'm an inveterate bread- lover). The long-distance runner probably needs much more carbohydrates than we dancers do, since our highest level of exertion is usually in short spurts. So I started to dicker with these percentages until I found the level where I felt best. For me, that turned out to be 55% carbs, 20% protein, and 25% fat. I could probably cut the carbohydrates even a little bit more, and increase the protein a little. But, after you strictly watch your diet for a couple of months, you'll simply feel when you're eating the proper quantities, and you can put your calorie counters away. Everyone who reads this probably knows approximately how many calories/grams he or she can have on a weight loss diet. If not, pick up any basic diet book, or subscribe to my newsletter ;-) , where I give you formulas to find your personal calorie limit based on your desired weight and level of activity, as well as how to turn calories into grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. I also give you best times of day to eat your carbs and protein to maximize your performance in class and your recovery time after class. The 55:20:25 diet can be based on percentages of calories or on grams (which makes it easier to figure out what percentages you're eating based on the nutritional labels you'll find on all prepared foods). I gave myself a very modest calorie deficit, so I'd lose no more than a pound each week. This way, I was able to change my eating patterns through slow weight loss, and keep my energy level high enough that I could keep going with my 10+ classes a week. So ten weeks, and my ten extra pounds were gone -- plus I had trained myself to know what to eat, when to eat it, and I could feel very acutely when I was far off track with what I was eating. I want to point out that dieting this way is not an extreme, difficult regimen. You're not limiting yourself to bare bones dieting. You get enough food, and with your paperback gram counter in hand, you're in control of which foods you eat. If you find that eating only 20% protein leaves you feeling weak, then try changing your ratios. I found that when I was eating less than 25% fat, I was cranky and worn out -- I felt dried out and lifeless. 60% carbohydrates was too much starch for me (no matter how many vegetables I ate to reduce the amount of bread and pasta). More than 20% protein, and I felt too heavy and bogged down for ballet. Try it out and you'll see. When counting grams of carbs, protein, and fat, you'll become much more aware of what you're putting into your body, and how it affects you. Then you can carry that knowledge and awareness with you for life! Plan B Well, I was recovering from my injury with lots of extra time on my hands (all those hours when I would have been dancing) and the pounds starting affixing themselves to my thighs immediately. So I want to be absolutely upfront and say that my main concern was not choosing a healthy way of losing the weight. My first concern was to get it off and keep it off until I could get back to dancing. But, I ended up learning a lot about my metabolism in the process. I was sitting in front of the TV watching Oprah, when she had two weight-loss doctors on who were talking about carbohydrate addiction. They were talking about a diet for people who, once they started eating potatoes or cereal or breads or sugary desserts, just kept feeling hungrier and hungrier and didn't feel satisfied after eating these foods. Instead, they wanted to keep eating more and more. Wow. This got my attention. This really sounded like me. I'd choose a huge bowl of macaroni and cheese over even my favorite protein foods or fruits and vegetables any day. And desserts, or a big loaf of garlic bread -- well, I'm simply not to be trusted. In short, the program these doctors advocated was one in which you ate protein (meat, eggs, cheese, fish, poultry) and vegetables in equal amounts, with starches or dessert items only at one meal of the day, and only as one third of the total volume of the meal (to be eaten at the same time as the rest of the meal, not hours later). I headed out to the bookstore, looking for a low-carbohydrate diet book. There were many, so I picked the cheapest paperback, which was the Dr. Atkins diet. This turns out to be the most extreme of the many low-carb diet versions out there. But I wanted to see results fast, so extreme was fine with me. Without going into the details (take a trip to your bookstore), you start out with protein and fat, plus a couple of handfuls of vegetables a day. The good news is that you can have all the protein and fat you want, and you can get some variety by choosing among meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, bacon, sausage, cheese -- butter on your broccoli -- and you can eat as much of these foods as you want. The bad news is that it's a little challenging to eat out: throwing away the bun on your hamburger, avoiding the hash browns with your breakfast, or pushing away that side-dish of spaghetti. However, this is the most miraculous diet I've ever been on. The pounds just fell off, and there were many other positive changes as well. No bloated feeling. My hair, nails, and skin looked glossier and better. I slept much better and felt much calmer than usual. And my energy level was way up -- no mood swings. The downside: Okay, I'll just say it, ((constipation)). But this improved as I started to moderate the diet, adding more vegetables, some fruit, and even some starches once I got the weight under control. I learned that starches and desserts (basically, sugar, since all starches are sugar) are the trigger that causes me to gain weight. When I avoid them, or eat them only in moderation, I don't generally have a weight problem. All these years, I've been fighting those same 10-15 pounds that creep up on me. Through my low-carb diet experience, I now know why. There's really never a reason to fill up on breads and pastas unless your level of activity is very high and you need the fuel. Now that I have my two plans in place -- one for high activity, and one for moderate activity -- I feel I've got my bases covered, and feel at peace knowing how to eat and what's going on with my body. And, if I'm suddenly gaining weight, I know the reason. There's no reason to agonize over it. It's just time to cut back on the carbs and snack on some protein instead…
The 55:20:25 diet ….INTRODUCTION: Low-carbohydrate diets (LCD) efficiently induce weight loss and favorably affect plasma lipids, however, the effect of LCD on atherosclerosis is still argued. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of LCD on the prevention of atherosclerosis. METHODS: Twenty guinea pigs were fed either a LCD or a low-fat diet (LFD) in combination with high- cholesterol (0.25g/100g) for 12 weeks. The percentage energy of macronutrient distribution was 10: 65:25 for carbohydrate:fat:protein for the LCD, and 55:20:25 for the LFD. Plasma lipids were measured using colorimetric assays. Plasma and aortic oxidized (oxLDL) were quantified using ELISA methods. Inflammatory cytokines were measured in aortic homogenates using an immunoassay. H&E stained sections of aortic sinus and Schultz stained sections of carotid arteries were examined. RESULTS: LDL cholesterol was lower in the LCD compared to the LFD group (71.9+/-34.8 vs. 81.7+/- 26.9mg/dL; p=0.039). Aortic cholesterol was also lower in the LCD (4.98+/-1.3mg/g) compared to the LFD group (6.68+/-2.0mg/g); p<0.05. The Schultz staining method confirmed less aortic cholesterol accumulation in the LCD group. Plasma oxLDL did not differ between groups, however, aortic oxLDL was 61% lower in the LCD compared to the LFD group (p=0.045). There was a positive correlation (r=0.63, p=0.03) between oxLDL and cholesterol concentration in the aorta of LFD group, which was not observed in LCD group (r=-0.05, p=0.96). Inflammatory markers were reduced in guinea pigs from the LCD group (p<0.05) and they were correlated with the decreases in oxLDL in aorta. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that LCD not only decreases lipid deposition, but also prevents the accumulation of oxLDL and reduces inflammatory cytokines within the arterial wall and may prevent atherosclerosis.
Naturally thin dancers always seem to have an unfair advantage over those with hips, and breasts.
Cocaine and the Ballet Dancer..
We hear all the time about dancer’s who were turned away because of their weight, or dancers who were already thin and were still asked to “trim down” by their dance company. This type of expectation poses a real threat on impressionable dancers! Recently The Daily News has its dance belt in a bundle upon the arrest of New York City Ballet principle dancer Nilas Martin, son of balletmaster Peter Martins, for possession of cocaine. Though we're more ABT fans than NYCB, a little perspective is needed. Namely, that pretty much every single ballet dancer includes cocaine in their nutritional regimen of Diet Coke and cigarettes. How else could Martins, at age 40, and with a history of excruciating bone spurs, maintain his ballon? How else do these ballerinas—jostling for a place on stage in an extremely cutthroat environment— maintain their weight and self-esteem? Clavicles like that don't define themselves on pure grit alone, people. Cocaine and the ballet have a long history together. Anyone who has read Gelsey Kirkland's memoir Dancing On My Grave recalls her prodigious consumption of the stuff. In 1988, ABT star Patrick Bissell died of a cocaine overdose. Perhaps Nilas' greater crime is being such a putz trying to hide the baggie as a Saratoga Springs cop walked by his Beemer. I mean, Skidmore is right there. Cops are used to seeing baggies in Beemers. Just be cool, man! But given that Nilas is a 40 year-old dancer, working in his father's company, while younger danseurs come up the ranks, ready to push him down the stairs like so many Nomi Malones, can't we forgive him a half of a gram of snow? He Can't Dance Out of This [NYD]
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Dance Quotes…."Ballet technique is arbitrary and very difficult. It never becomes easy--it relentless, in many instances painful, the effort to maintain the technique so grueling that could not be maintained." ~Agnes de Mille
"There are likewise three kinds of dancers: first, those who consider dancing as a sort of gymnastic drill, made up of impersonal and graceful arabesques; second, those who, by concentrating their minds, lead the body into the rhythm of a desired emotion, expressing a remembered feeling or experience. And finally, there are those who convert the body into a luminous fluidity, surrendering it to the inspiration of the soul." ~Isadora Duncan
"Basic dance--and I should qualify the word basic--is primarily concerned with motion. So immediately you will say but the basketball player is concerned with motion. That is so--but he is not concerned with it primarily. His action is a means towards an end beyond motion. In basic dance the motion is its own end--that is, it is concerned with nothing beyond itself." ~Alwin Nikolais
"If one had to define one essential gift with which a dancer needs to be endowed, there might be a rush of answers. A beautiful body, grace of line, graciousness of spirit, joy in the work, ability to please, unswerving integrity, relentless ambition towards some abstract perfection. Certainly all these factors determine a dancer’s character, and every element exists in some combination within the performing artist’s presence." ~Lincoln Kirstein "I will make an average man into an average dancer, provided he be passably well made. I will teach him how to move his arms and legs, to turn his head. I will give him steadiness, brilliancy and speed; but I cannot endow him with that fire and intelligence, those graces and that expression of feeling which is the soul of true pantomime." ~Jean Georges Noverre
"The choreographer cannot deliberately make a ballet to appeal to an audience, he has to start from personal inspirations. He has to trust the ballet, to let it stand on its own strengths or fall on its weaknesses. If it reaches the audience, then he is lucky that round!" ~Gerald Arpino
BALLET EXERCISES BELOW... SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE.
"One is born to be a dancer. No teacher can work miracles, nor will years of training make a good dancer of an untalented pupil. One may be able to acquire a certain technical facility, but no one can ever 'acquire an exceptional talent.' I have never prided myself on having an unusually gifted pupil. A Pavlova is no one's pupil but God's." ~George Balanchine
"Dancers are the athletes of God." ~Albert Einstein
"We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance." ~Japanese Proverb
"Try to be fearless, because fear can inhibit you and keep you from a life." ~Miranda Weese (NYCB)
"There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them." ~Vicki Baum "Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels." ~Faith Whittlesey
"Artists lead unglamorous daily lives of discipline and routine, but their work is full of passion. Each has a vision and feels responsibility to that vision." ~Merryl Brockway
"Dancers are an admirable bunch of people. The way they work. The stress is extraordinary. It's a difficult career. I think it's hellish; the fact that they are over the hill as they're emotionally maturing. That calls for a terrific strength of character." ~Lady D. MacMillan
"Ballet is not technique but a way of expression that comes more closely to the inner language of man than any other." ~George Borodin
"Light quirks of music, broken and uneven,Make the soul dance upon a jig to Heav'n." ~Alexander Pope, Moral Essays
"It's what I always wanted to do, to show the laughter, the fun the joy of dance." ~Martha Graham
"I don't want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance." ~George Balanchine
"Life is a dance, from one stage to the next." ~Anonymous
"Dancers are instruments, like a piano the choreographer plays." ~George Balanchine
"Imagination is more important than knowledge" ~Albert Einstein
"Dancers are among the most passionate and dedicated of artists and rarely take their work for granted." ~Anonymous
Ballet Quotes.."I’m very excited about dance and love it with a deep passion. I also struggle, tire and become discouraged. But what has always revived me...has been the rebirth of energy each time the creative process is awakened and artistic activity begins to unfold even in some infinitesimal measure." ~Ann Halprin
"Stifling an urge to dance is bad for your health - it rusts your spirit and your hips." ~Adabella Radici
"Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair..." ~Susan Polis Shutz
"Dancing is the poetry of the foot." ~John Dryden
"Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is not mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself." ~Havelock Ellis "Dance is the hidden language of the soul." ~Martha Graham
"A child sings before it speaks, dances almost before it walks. Music is in our hearts from the beginning." ~Pamela Brown
"Then come the lights shining on you from above. You are a performer. You forget all you learned, the process of technique, the fear, the pain, you even forget who you are you become one with the music, the lights, indeed one with the dance." ~Shirley Maclaine
"Socrates learned to dance when he was seventy because he felt that an essential part of himself had been neglected." ~Source Unknown
"I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what it too deep to find for words." ~Ruth St. Denis
"Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather." ~Martha Graham
"Dance is a song of the body. Either of joy or pain." ~Martha Graham
"The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word." ~Mata Hari
"Dance for yourself, if someone understands good. If not then no matter, go right on doing what you love." ~Lois Hurst
"Dance is your pulse, your heartbeat, your breathing. It's the rhythm of your life. It's the expression in time and movement, in happiness, joy, sadness and envy." ~Jaques D'ambroise
"All there is to be said for work compared to dance is that the latter is so much easier." ~Heywood Brown "There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good." ~Edwin Denby
"Please send me your last pair of shoes, worn out with dancing as you mentioned in your letter, so that I might have something to press against my heart." ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance." ~Japanese Proverb
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