The life of a twenty-first century ballerina often means jumping from one persona to the next, out of pointe shoes and into socks, tattered technique shoes, bare feet and bruises. For three hours we are bunheaded and floating, while the next three have us rolling through the floor, hair and hips flying loose and low.


Of course, this can wreak havoc on the structure of the ever-important feet and ankles, dramatic shifts in positioning and pressure causing all kinds of inflammation, irritation, and injury. Our February program jumps from balletic Serenade to apocalyptic Smoke & Mirrors and creature-like Coma, and all I can say is THANK YOU, SHOCKS.


With compression in the arch and ankle, the Performance Shocks from Apolla are saving my feet. They hug just the right areas to provide support and protection, while still allowing the toes to shape and the heel to ground into the floor.


Before a long day in pointe shoes, (my feet and) I love taking barre in my Apolla’s. They give me the perfect lift without being restricting or bulky. Ah, can a person truly love a pair of socks, you ask? I’ve rambled on and on about all of their many benefits, but for now let’s check out some close up glam shots and find out how well they really perform…


Oooooh, aaahhhhh. Who knew a pair of socks could make me feel some kinda way? If you’re looking for a date this Valentine’s Day, might I recommend a fresh pair of Performance Shocks? Just kidding…kind of.

In you’re interested, Apolla is offering a discount to STB readers! Use the code SETTING*THE*BARRE19 for 10% off at checkout.

All photos by Jenay Evans for STB.

p l a n t e d

As I mentioned yesterday, my foot has been bumming me out these days.  And when I say bumming, I mean, bum planted on the couch, toes wrapped in ice, meh.  But speaking of plants (stay with me as I reach for romanticism in this medically-charged* post here), to quell the inflammation, I’ve been exploring the many methods through which Mother Nature heals.

Coupling my strong aversion to western pharmaceuticals (I blame a sensitive stomach and exposure to the miracle of acupuncture) with the aches and pains that accompany a ballet career, in recent years I’ve found myself charging down a quite intriguing path towards holistic healing.  I’m pretty convinced that plants rule the world.  A few of my favorites and the strange ways I’ve been harnessing their powers recently:

ginger. DSC07785minced up in sautéed kale, grated over strawberry-rhubarb crisp, bulky chunks steeped in tea.  it’s healing gingerols are powerful, and I love them in all forms.

turmeric.DSC07818 (1)which, thanks to my mom, i currently have in full root, ground and extract forms.  the curcumin found in this tasty spice is hailed by masters of Chinese medicine as one of the world’s most powerful anti-inflammatories.  try steeping the roots in hot water (mixed with a bag of green tea for added anti-inflammatory benefits!), sprinkling its grounds over a cauliflower before roasting or blending into your favorite smoothie recipe (it’s taste usually disappears amongst fruits and berries), or popping the extract capsules along with water and some food (the most potent and effective method, so I’ve read).

tea.DSC07834tea is a great way to absorb more of those wonderful inflammation-fighters found in the aforementioned ginger, turmeric, and yes, the magical flavonoids packed into green tea leaves.  the high level of catechin polyphenols in green tea have many healthy benefits, and relief from joint pain and swelling just so happens to be one of them. fill a mug and drink up!

maple and walnut.DSC07774curled into a beautiful (and efficient!) foot roller by the talented husband of a fellow FBP dancer, what once branched up from the earth now relaxes my roots.  it may look unassuming, but this bad boy has been a lifesaver for my cramped arches and stuff joints.

garlic.DSC07783in my (italian) opinion, garlic turns any dish it touches to gold**.  but its strength is not just in flavor; did you know garlic works hard to fight inflammation, too?  okay, so this is mostly based on dancer suspicions and old slavic advisors, but hey, it can’t hurt to add a little more gusto to your dish in the hopes of reliving some pain, right?  if you can get your handsome boyfriend to cook said dish for you, you’ve got it made in the shade!

arnica.DSC07766 (1)conveniently gel-ified by the wizards at arnicare, the arnica flower delivers an impressive collection of natural soothers.  the sesquiterpene lactones, found predominantly in the stem of the plant, share their anti-inflammatory effects to the body when applied topically.  yes, please.

actual flowers.DSC07828last but not least, never underestimate the effect of a cheery spring bouquet in lifting your spirits (especially if you’re currently experiencing a snow storm during the first week of April).  positivity=power!  bonus points if they are delivered by your sweet mother.

Happy healing!

*full disclosure: I am not a doctor.  The suggestions in this post are just that.  If you are experiencing pain or swelling in your body, I recommend seeing a medical professional whom you trust, listening to their advice, and experimenting with plant-based treatments that work for you and your body.

**unless your mom accidentally slices up a chocolate-almond croissant on your garlic cutting board.  garlic-flavored sweets are decidedly disgusting…haha.

striking a balance


Earlier this summer, I hopped a bus to NYC to visit a friend temporarily in town from the Royal Danish Ballet. Seven years had passed since our bonding at Jacob’s Pillow but! thanks to the joys of social media, there was a strong sense of uninterrupted connection between us.  If not in a multi-paragraph message framed in Facebook Blue, than through the remarkably vivid  612×612-pixel window of good old Instagram, over the years we shared in our adventuring.  We watched each other grow.  Separate, but together.

At long last on a rooftop above Brooklyn, pocketed by twinkle lights, we reunited.  The alfresco table was beset with blondes, some faces familiar and some new.  Among those whose acquaintance I’d only just made was the delightful Miss Shelby Elsbree.


As the sun slipped away, we loaded up on fresh mussels, al dente pasta, and July-ripened artichokes.  Basketballs abounded, flirtatious chefs offered shots and the rosé seemed to reappear endlessly.  We discussed Copenhagen, Boston, Providence, Bournonville, Forsythe and Balanchine.  Collectively reliving old romances, mulling over the merits of dating apps and fantasizing future travels we filled the gaps between our cities with easy communication and the breaking of bread.

The notoriously small nature of the ballet world felt tangible on that breezy New York evening and again this past weekend, when Jessica Spinner of The Whole Dancer reached out to me about her webinar on eating and injury prevention for dancers.  The internet seminar, live on August 27th at 8 pm (or whenever it hits your inbox- all who register will receive a copy of the discussion via email) is completely free and features none other than, that’s right, Boston Ballet Corps Member, Shelby Elsbree.


Balancing strength and artistry seems a fitting topic for Miss Elsbree, a spirited pint of a person whose energy supersedes her.  The collection of “culinary curiosities” and bits of ballerina life comprising her blog, Tutus & Tea, showcases her unique ability to maintain a harmony between the two.  Here, in her lovely little corner of the web, Shelby proves she has as much grace and power in the kitchen as she does in the studio.


Avoiding injury as a professional dancer is hard.  Cultivating a healthy relationship with food can be, too.  That essential, deeply personal balance between dance and life often alludes us.  To steal Shelby’s secrets, register for the free webinar (live one week from tonight), and join as she and holistic health coach, Jessica Spinner, navigate the twisting road towards a protective and empowering dancer diet.  Learn how to decipher primary and secondary foods, choose superfoods when recovering from an injury, and experiment with an eating plan to reach your ideal dancer’s body.  Nourish your body and mind.  Your tastebuds (and injury-free bod!) will thank you.

photos by Kenneth B. Edwards.

no sunlight


There’s a running joke amongst us “dancer folk” poking fun at the ghostly pale ballerina complexion, a trademark only achieved by spending every last hour of daylight in the studio.  At FBP we even (lovingly) refer to the black-box-conversion studio as “the dungeon”, thanks to two thick, black curtains that block out any and all eager little rays of sunshine attempting to stretch their warmth down into the building.  But are our many days spent under fluorescents instead of sunlight putting us in danger?  New studies say they could be, and here’s why…

The sun provides us with an essential nutrient that contributes to high serotonin levels, strong bones, healthy hearts and even boosting the immune system: Vitamin D.  The crucial vitamin notes treating weak bones, bone pain, and bone loss as some of its main benefits, with aiding in muscle weakness and arthritis not far behind.  These are all issues that dancers deal with daily!  A study conducted for the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport followed 24 dancers at the Birmingham Royal Ballet as they danced between 6 and 8 hours a day (totalling nearly 38 hours a week).  The results revealed all of the dancers as being either Vitamin D deficient or insufficient in the winter months, with only a mere 15 % of the group sustaining normal levels of Vitamin D during the summer months.

After giving half of the dancers Vitamin D supplements and studying the effects, the results were too dramatic to go unreported.  The dancers taking supplements showed increased muscle strength, improved vertical jump performance, and perhaps most notably, they  suffered fewer injuries.  Of the 17 dancers taking Vitamin D, 12 claimed to be injury-free and only 5 reported sustaining 1 injury.  Of the dancers not taking the supplement, only 1 was found injury-free, with 5 others sustaining 1 injury, and 1 dancer suffering 2.

There were a lot of numbers being thrown around there, but what you really need to know here is that although the group of dancers being assessed in this study was small, the results are still convincing, and our next move is obvious: it’s time to take charge of our Vitamin D-intake.  If it can’t soften our vampire-like skin tones, at least it can protect us from injury.  So, spread the word, tell your mom, tell your teacher, tell your brother, sister, friend, cousin, dad, grandma, and her poodle.  Vitamin D supplements for all!

photo via