Dance Nutrition & Healthy Eating...A Primer.

As an ongoing theme in our blog Northstar staff and blog contributors will commonly focus on the most talked about topic from dance moms.  Dance Nutrition and fueling a healthy dancer.  To perform at their best, dancers need to be well fueled for classes, rehearsals, and performances.

Before we get started you should know...Our goal is to share our knowledge and insight on maintaining a healthy lifestyle to improve dance performance.  The dance world is rampant with eating disorders and false ideas of what a dancers body should look like.  At no point is our emphasis nor should yours ever be on dieting, weight loss, calorie counting, or specific physical appearance goals.   You should always exercise your best parental judgement first and seek advice of a pediatrician if looking to make changes to your children's diets.

Now let's get started!  For today we will focus on a high level overview of nutritional tips to support an active dancer.  As we continue this blog we cover topics in more detail but for today a brief primer on dance nutrition as a whole...

Dance is unique in that it is both sport and art, and a dancers body dually serves as a instrument and machine.  Therefore, it is vital to fuel and dancer with proper balanced nutrition and hydration so they may continue to dance at their fullest potential and stay free from injury. 

What is "balanced nutrition" as it pertains to a dancer?

Same as anyone else really.  Eating the right mixture of high fiber carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fat.  It should noted that complex carbohydrates provide energy for the body and are a key component of a healthy breakfast.  A good example of healthy carbs that our bodies use efficiently and are high in vitamins and minerals would be whole grains, oatmeal, beans, legumes, and of course fruits and vegetables.

Lean protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, which dancers need due to the nature of their rigorous routines and practices.  Excellent sources of lean protein include chicken breast, Salmon, most white fish, beans, legumes, & tofu.   Fat is also important because it helps bodies adsorb vitamins, keeps joints strong, and provides satiety.  Good sources of fat include nuts, nut butters, avocado, hummus, olive oil, and Salmon. 

  • Try adding a light amount of clean fat to snack!  Try Apples with a light amount of all natural peanut butter.  A great snack to have 45-60 before dance class!

Hydration....WATER & MORE WATER!

For women the general guideline for water consumption is 2.7 liters per day and 3.7 for men.  It is VERY important for dancers to stay hydrated with water plain and soda, no sugary sports drinks, no vitamin water...just plain old boring water.  Dancers should be drinking water though out the day.  Soda's, Sports drinks, and processed juices provide tons of sugar and empty calories.  A dancer needs their calories from clean natural food not beverages that will later fail them in dance class. 

What and When are the best foods to eat?

We recommend having a meal 1 1/2 - 2 hours prior to dance or performances.  Doing so will give your body enough time to digest the meal with out giving you any discomfort during your time dancing.  The meal should be a proper ratio of carbs, protein, and clean fat.  Fat content should be low as fat is processed slower by the body.  An example of a good breakfast would be 1/2 cup of oatmeal (no sugar) made w/ skim milk or almond milk.  Add a tablespoon of raw nuts such as almonds with a side of non-fat Greek Yogurt.  Throw in a glass of water and maybe a cup of an all natural juice and you are good to go!  For lunch try a Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce, tomato, and avocado.  Don't like avocado?  Try skipping the mayo and adding all natural hummus! 

For a more detail read try this article

Learn more about Northstar Dance Company and our Dance Studio located in Jordan, MN.

5 Things Every Parent Should Know Before Choosing a Dance Studio in Minnesota

Aren't most dance studios the there really a difference?  Does it matter which studio you decide to enroll in?  Yes!  and here are five important things that will make a huge difference in the quality of instruction and care your child receives.  Combined they also reduce the amount of extra work and stress that parents must deal with, and increase the overall enjoyment and satisfaction of being involved with a dance program.  These five things should be considered by every parent making a decision on a dance studio for their child.

1.) What type of dance floor is used?

  • Dance is a very physical activity that requires a lot of jumping, which can put stress on bones and joints.  Most dance footwear does not provide any cushioning or support, so the shock of dance movement can place a lot of pressure on the knees and back of a dancer.  The best way to prevent against potential injury is by choosing a studio with a professional "floating floor".  A floating floor is a dance floor that rests on a system of high-density foam, to absorb the shock of jumping.  A high-density foam base is superior to a "sprung" floor, which usually consists of a wood structure built on a regular floor.

2.) What will my child be a set curriculum used?

  •  Unlike many studios where instructors teach whatever they personally decide, NSDC has a proven, set curriculum that each student and teacher follows.  This curriculum is broken into levels that build upon each other.  Each level contains the needed building blocks for success in later levels.  These building blocks are a proven method in turning out strong dancers.  All teachers adhere to this curriculum and teach the same principles. 

3.) What to look for in an instructor?

  • Not all instructors are alike!  NSDC does not just hire anyone.  Special care is taken in our hiring process.  Our instructors are some of the most qualified teachers in the industry.  Our teachers have Bachelor of Fine Arts Dance Performance, Bachelor of Arts with an Elementary Education, and Masters in Human Development degrees, and or nationally certified as well as vast experience and recognition in their chosen field.  Our teachers are also chosen for their ability to relate to the needs of our students. 

4.) Can I observe my child's class? 

  • It is important to support your child by being aware of his or her progress, and it is comforting to know exactly what takes place in the classroom.  Some dance studios only allow parents to watch several set times throughout the dance season, and some dance studios do not allow parents to observe class at all.  This poses a disadvantage to families by considerably reducing the opportunity for parents to see their child's growth.  Additionally, parents pay for the lessons, so they should have the opportunity to see their dancer.  Other studios allow parents in the classroom for multiple dance lessons.  This classroom traffic can be a distraction to both students and teachers, and, ultimately, reduces the quality of the learning environment.  So how can you watch the dance class without disrupting the classroom? 

Through the use of our unique viewing windows, we encourage parents to view their child's class.  Parents are able to observe their child, the instructor, and other classes all from our viewing areas without interrupting class progress.

5.) Can I get immediate assistance and customer service? 

  • Many studios may have no customer service available if the teacher is in a class.  To have a good experience, it is important to choose a studio that can assist you with any customer service needs...even if a teacher is occupied.  Our studio has office staff on hand during all regular class times, so you can get immediate assistance.  Additionally, your phone messages will be returned in a timely manner, and emails are responded to within 1 business day.