How did you get your start in dance? Tell me about the path you’ve taken to get where you are now.

My parents enrolled me in creative movement classes at the local arts council when I was 3 years old, and then I danced at a local ballet studio from age 5-18.

I didn’t figure out I wanted to continue dancing post-high school until quite late, the end of my sophomore year, when I discovered that I could dance and get a college degree.

I’m now studying Dance Pedagogy at Butler University and am about to begin my senior year. I’ve only fallen more in love with dance, as I’ve gotten older.

Dancer Allison Haan

What is your focus right now?

Right now I’m focusing on how to work within the mechanics of my own body. I’ve been navigating what areas are more difficult and need improvement vs. the ones that come more naturally.

I’d like to be my body’s own engineer and hone in on my technique as I head into my last year of undergrad.

What inspires you to dance?

I’ve always thought of dance as the means to mobilize my soul. When I dance, I feel that I’m truly giving everything I can offer to this world. I’m also a very methodical thinker, and to have something that combines a passionate expression with order and balance, it’s a match made in heaven.

I’ve grown to love being in technique classes as much as performing. To every day start at the barre in first position and do that first port de bras, it’s like opening yourself up to the world; I actually get teary even just thinking about that.

Nothing seems more right to me, that mind/body connection that can be found through dance. When else in life are you thinking about literally every sensation in your body?

My constant fascination with the art is what inspires me, and I can’t see myself losing that wonderment any time soon. 

What are your favorite foods and dancing fuel?

I have so many favorite foods, but my go-to dinner is a plant based bowl. My favorite combination is Mexican-styled roasted sweet potato, broccoli, onion and bell peppers with black beans, quinoa or brown rice, and vegan nacho cheese sauce (made with a base of cashews!). I top that with avocado and/or hemp seeds and I’m good to go.

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Some of my other favorite foods include curry, stir fry, fajitas, vegan mac and cheese and avocado toast.

At this point I am plant based with the exception of eggs here and there. I have many reasons for why I eat this way including ethical, environmental and health purposes; but I don’t like to label myself because of how easy it is to feel pressured to maintain perfection.

Most of my favorite foods happen to be vegan, so that’s the kind of food I like to keep in my kitchen. I’ve been eating this way a little over a year now and I’ve honestly never felt better!

Allison Haan Butler University

Are there any specific things you do to care for your mental health?

I’ve actually written every day in a journal for over 5 years now.

Sometimes it’s a drag and at times I get a little behind in writing, but I’ve found daily journaling to be really important for my mental health. It keeps me checking in with myself at the end of each day, even if it was a busy one.

It gets me asking how I’m doing and what needs to be addressed. Besides that, sleep always helps me with any mental funk.

I’ve also learned how to most effectively process my thoughts. For me I best process information and emotions through talking with another person.

However you best organize your ideas, I think it’s so important to know that about yourself so you can keep your mental health in check.

How do you maintain balance in your life?

I’m very aware of how I’m feeling at all times; I think that’s the biggest thing. If you’re starting to feel grumpy or sad or stressed out, don’t ignore it. Pay attention to your needs; you probably feel the way you do for a reason.

Back to my comment about journaling, that’s a great way I keep myself in check. Some days when I feel “off”, it’s usually because I didn’t go outside, socialize, eat well, or exercise. Or maybe I socialized too much or maybe I did one task for too long.

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Take note of those “off” days and learn for you what’s in excess or what’s lacking. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

When I’m not at dance, school, or work, I run a food page called Eating Always with my good friend (@eating.always on instagram) where we post pictures and recipes of our food creations.

I love giving tips and inspiring people to cook great food! Besides that, you’ll find me drinking coffee in my pajamas, riding my bike, talking on the phone with my mom, hanging out with friends, or taking a yoga class.

Ballet Dancer Allison Haan

How do you deal with disappointment in dance? How do you deal when you’re struggling with confidence?

I try to just stay in the zone as much as I can. I go to ballet class, I go to my rehearsals, and I do my homework. I make my bed, eat good food, and remember to shower—the brain loves mini accomplishments.

My advice would be to do what you need to do and don’t let that insecurity impact how you treat others or yourself. Don’t get involved with gossip.

People love to talk trash about others so they can feel better about their own lack of self-confidence. Keep your head low and keep moving forward.

Never be afraid to ask for help or input from teachers. Check in with your mental health and know what works for you.

What does being a ‘Whole Dancer’ mean to you?

To me, a “Whole Dancer” maintains balance both inside and outside the studio. In the studio, a “Whole Dancer” focuses on all areas: artistry, strength, flexibility, technique, and musicality.

The best dancers let their personality shine through artistic expression while still having a solid technique and healthy body. Outside the studio, a “Whole Dancer” eats well, gets plenty of sleep, addresses injury, keeps her mental health in check, and maintains an identity outside of dance.

Anyone can be a “Whole Dancer” as long as their attention is on all aspects of life and dance and they realize it’s all entirely interconnected.

The “Whole” College Dancer : Allison Haan

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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