Healthy Dancer Summer Features

Alexandra Hoffman

Share a bit about your journey in dance…

Currently, I am in my fourth season with American Midwest Ballet. I grew up dancing in Cleveland, Ohio under the instruction of Ana Lobe of Cleveland San Jose Ballet. I started my professional career with the Louisville Ballet in 2010.

I danced there for four seasons before joining AMB in 2015. Since then, I have had the opportunity to dance some amazing roles such as The Sugar Plum Fairy, Dew Drop Fairy, and Snow Queen in The Nutctacker, the principal girl in Mariana Oliveira’s, Death and the Maiden, Fee in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a Cygnet in Swan Lake.

What’s a challenge you’ve faced in pursuing dance professionally? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I have faced in my career was a knee injury that occurred during my first season with American Midwest Ballet. I remember the exact moment it happened, and trying to brush it off as something that would fix itself in a few days time.

Unfortunately, my leg was no longer able to bear weight, making my leg give out. I had microfracture surgery as soon as the season ended, and spent all summer rehabilitating my leg. Learning how to bend my knee again, was definitely the most painful and frustrating part of recovery. The surgery was not a guaranteed fix, and I was afraid it was going to cost me my career.

Thankfully, I had a great surgeon and team of physical therapists that kept me motivated throughout the process. I’m thankful to have made a full recovery since then!

What do you think it means to be a “whole” dancer?

For me, being a whole dancer means being healthy, physically and mentally. I spend many hours a week cross training to keep my body strong to avoid injuries as much as possible. Fueling my body with the right kind of food is also super important to me. I cook as much as I can for myself, so I can control the quality of ingredients that go into my meals.

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Do you have any special self-care rituals that help you feel balanced?

Wednesday’s are my only nights off from teaching and rehearsing. I use that night to de-stress with an epsom salt bath and a face mask. I also like to use that time to plan out all of my meals for the following week. I love looking at the sale ads for grocery stores, and finding as many coupons as possible! I try to revolve my meals around the sales to help me stay on budget!

What role does cross-training play in your life?

Pilates, physical therapy exercises, and swimming are crucial for keeping my knee tracking properly. I want to dance for as long as I possibly can, so cross training is just as important as refining my dance technique.

How do you keep a positive relationship with food and your body in the face of aesthetic pressure in dance?

Cooking is definitely another passion I have in my life. I love trying to “lighten up” classic dishes in my kitchen, as well as indulging in comfort foods. Sticking to a strict and restricting diet has never been appealing to me. I think keeping a healthy balance of foods in my life is the key to keeping me both healthy and happy.

Food is a dancer’s fuel, so if I’m hungry, I know I need to eat! It can be difficult to eat a bigger meal during a strenuous rehearsal day, so I make sure to eat a really filling breakfast, and have plenty of smaller snacks to get me through the day. Dinner is always my largest meal of the day to help replenish my body with as much nutrients as I can possibly get!

Do you have a favorite recipe?!

This recipe is one of my go-to recipes during tech weeks! Throwing everything on a sheet pan, and letting the oven do all the work is my ideal kind of meal when I have zero time to meal prep. This recipe is filled with lots of good fats, and carbohydrates that I definitely need to  perform my best on stage! I hope you like it as much as I do!

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One Pan Lemon Roasted Salmon, Roasted Potatoes and Parmesan Asparagus

Prep Time 10 min

Cook Time 30 min

Total Time 40 min

Serves 4 people

  • 1 lb baby potatoes, halved if large
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • Salt + pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb skin on salmon
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • ½ Tbsp each, dried parsley, thyme, and oregano
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne (omit if sensitive to spicy foods)
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 lemons-zest of 2 lemons + 1 sliced for roasting
  • 1-2 bunches of asparagus, ends trimmed
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
Basil Chimichurri
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, combine the potatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt + pepper. Toss well to evenly coat the potatoes. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, the honey, garlic, parsley, thyme, oregano, paprika, cayenne, basil and lemon zest in a bowl.
  4. After 15 minutes, remove the potatoes from the oven. Add the salmon to the center of the pan. Rub the spice mixture onto the salmon, making sure the salmon is well coated.
  5. Add the asparagus to the pan and toss with the potatoes. Sprinkle both the asparagus and potatoes with parmesan. Scatter lemon slices all around the pan and on the salmon.
  6. Place in the oven and roast for 10-20 minutes or until the salmon has reached your desired doneness.
  7. To serve, remove the skin from the salmon (if desired)  and cut into 4 pieces. Serve with potatoes + asparagus and the basil chimichurri.
Basil Chimichurri

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until combined and pesto like. Pour into a bowl or glass jar.

Alexandra Hoffman – Healthy Dancer Feature

Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Holistic Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Coach for high level dancers. She founded The Whole Dancer in 2015 after identifying a greater need for balance, wellness and support in the dance world. Since The Whole Dancer was founded, Jess has worked with 100's of dancers worldwide at top companies and schools. She has been featured in or written for Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine, and Dance Spirit Magazine.

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