Healthy Dancer Summer Feature
Where do you dance? Share a bit about your journey in dance.
My journey in dance has been somewhat unconventional. I grew up doing competitive swimming, but unfortunately I quit when I was 11 because my parents, who both worked full-time, were unable to get me to the more advanced swim team practices. They still wanted me to do an extra-curricular activity though, and since my mom was interested in starting adult ballet, I started taking lessons once a week at the same studio.
Since our family didn’t have much experience with the world of dance, the studio I started at seemed great, but as I got older and started attending summer intensive auditions, we quickly realized that it did not provide the quality of training I was looking for.
I am SO fortunate because right around the time I decided to change ballet schools, my mom was also able to start working from home. This allowed her the flexibility to be available to drive me to ballet at any time and start homeschooling me, especially since I didn’t have the skills to move away to a dance school with housing.
I started dancing at Southland Ballet Academy in California when I was 14, and have trained there for 2 years.
What’s a challenge you faced in pursuing dance professionally? How did you overcome it?
I’m not a professional dancer yet, but starting so late with poor training has been one of the hardest challenges. Sometimes it’s hard not to compare myself with people my age who have had excellent training since they were three, but I have to remind myself that everyone blooms at a different time. Some dancers are ready to go professional after high school, but others are ready in their 20’s.
Even through dance is challenging, I love how there is always so much room to constantly grow and improve, and I do think being a late-starter has some perks. I feel that I have a greater appreciation for dance since it hasn’t always been a part of my life.
What does it mean to you to be a “whole” dancer?
To me, being a whole dancer means being a person first and a dancer second. I think it is especially important to find your own worth as a human being, and not just a dancer.
Of course, as dancers, we spend a majority of time dancing or doing other dance-related activities, but I think it’s necessary to cultivate other areas of our lives as well and recognize what we excel at. Not only can this prevent burnout, but also give us a fresh perspective when we approach dance.
Do you have any special self-care rituals that help you feel balanced?
Some of my favorite self-care rituals include soaking in Epsom salts, reading, and cooking while watching an interesting movie. I especially like cooking because it allows me to do something relaxing and creative, and also allows me to have some great, healthy food available during the week when I don’t have time to cook!
What role does cross-training play in your life?
I’m still figuring out cross-training. I used to do the elliptical or swim for a few hours a week, which I think was a little extreme in addition to my dance schedule. I also tried pilates at a studio for a year, which did get expensive.
Now, I mainly walk my dog every day, do specific pilates/floor barre exercises I need for strength at home (there are SO many great exercises that don’t require a reformer or special equipment!), and sometimes do another form of cardio.
How do you keep a positive relationship with food and your body in the face of aesthetic pressure in dance?
I think this question goes back to the concept of finding my worth as a person rather than just a dancer as well as creating balance in my life. Even though aesthetic pressure is a real problem in the dance world, finding things I like about my body as opposed to picking it apart, and focusing on technique rather than how I look in the mirror really helps.
There are consequences to abusing your body. Realizing that my primary goal is to be the best, strongest, and healthiest dancer I can be rather than the smallest, and possibly not-as-great dancer makes me want to take good care of the body I have.
Do you have a favorite recipe to share?
When I was younger, I thought all salads were boring and unsatisfying, but I have really discovered a love for them after I learned how great then can be with the right ingredients! Having a great dressing, some more filling ingredients, and your favorite combination of vegetables can make a salad exciting.
Here is the recipe for my favorite salad and dressing combination.
Find Chamonix on Instagram @aballerinasfood
-Prepackaged or home-cut salad greens (I used a prepackaged blend of kale, broccoli, and shredded carrots and purple cabbage)
-Roasted Sweet Potato Chunks
-Any other additions you’d like!
Creamy Almond Butter Dressing:
-2-3 cloves garlic
-1/4 cup almond butter
-1/3 cup lemon juice
-1/4 cup water
-1 tbsp maple syrup
-a dash of salt and pepper
Blend all dressing ingredients in a high speed blender, assemble your salad, and enjoy!