Sorry for the short hiatus since my last post. I’ve been feeling pretty down and mopey, so I haven’t been going to class or doing much at all. Now I’ve finally started to snap out of it and I’m getting back to reality. When it comes to these things, it’s so easy to get stuck in a spiral of forever putting everything off. The longer you mope, the scarier it seems to get back to your usual activities. The more guilty you feel about how long it’s been, the more depressed you get, and the less you want to get out there! Luckily I have the best support going, and whenever I’m down the people around me are there to gently encourage me to start moving again. I’m feeling much happier and my motivation is renewed!
That’s why I think now would be a great time to announce that I’ll be starting a new series of posts called the Dare to Dance Book Club.
I love to immerse myself in all things dance, and that definitely extends to my reading list. Having started ballet late (and being of a curious nature), I consider it my job to educate myself as much as possible about my art form. It’s surprising how many people get by with just doing class and don’t realise that they could be enriching their dancing in even more ways, and enriching their minds, too.
If you’re someone who has struggled in their dance journey, learning more is a great way to give you an edge, and to enrich you as an artist. Any dancer, including the keen amateur, will benefit from reading more about dance. I want to share some of the books I have read, and how they’ve helped me to grow as a dancer. I’d love for you to join me by reading these books, too. Also please, please throw any book recommendations my way in the comments!
The first book I want to talk about is a relatively new release, “Ballerina Body” by Misty Copeland.
Misty Copeland has always been an inspiration to me, because she had an atypical start to her career. She started training in her teens, and didn’t have the same privileged and cultured background many dancers enjoy. She faced racial barriers and overcame them to become the first African American principal dancer at ABT, and, as covered in this book, has struggled with her weight, body shape and emotional eating.
As someone who also struggles to keep my body shape in-line with the expectations of classical ballet (and is prone to emotional eating!) I found this a really comforting and positive read. As a dancer, I’m often surrounded by people with ideal bodies who seem to have no problem staying slim and healthy. Whilst I’m sure that’s not always the case, it can be isolating to think that way, so it’s such a huge relief to hear about how Misty used to bury her feelings in a box of doughnuts. Aside from that, I think that this book is an excellent choice for anyone who is looking to improve their health by eating better and becoming fitter and stronger.
I found this book to be aimed more towards the everyday person than towards serious dancers. It has a lot of advice for people who want to get a “ballerina body” but also have their own busy lives, with jobs and children. I think that adult amateur dancers will LOVE this book. I also think that even those who don’t dance, but want to replicate a dancer’s slim, strong physique, will find this book invaluable.
However, this book is still a great read for dancers, too. Even if you have a slim figure, if you know that you could eat better, or just want some recipe and cross-training ideas, this book will be beneficial to you. I think that for me, the most value I got from this book was the side-notes on things like visualisation and achieving the correct mindset. There are also step-by-step exercises, recipes, and even a 21-day ballerina body meal plan complete with grocery lists for those who want to follow a set routine.
It’s here that I’ll make one important point: take ANY diet advice that’s not given by a qualified, registered nutritionist with a pinch of salt. I’m not saying that only nutritionists should share diet advice. Many food bloggers, writers and others share advice that’s proved successful for them. Often, people can identify with that and find it works for them, too. Misty shares some wonderful advice and recipes in this book, based mainly around the principles of eating a diet that’s high in good fat.
However please also take a moment to look at this post about advice I learned from a dance nutritionist. If I stay in line with that advice that I was given, I think that the given meal compositions are slightly too high in fat and too low in carbohydrates for many dancers- so, read the book, have a look at some other nutrition advice given by registered nutritionists, and then try it for yourself and see what suits you best. There is no need to take everything written in a book as gospel, and the most reliable information comes from qualified nutritionist, in my opinion. Conflicting advice can be confusing, which is why I recommend seeing a nutritionist if you feel that needs to be addressed. That way you can get reliable advice that’s tailored to you.
That being said, I think that this book really inspired me to get creative with how I get those good fats into my diet. It’s also provided some amazing recipes which I can’t wait to try. I don’t really like cooking and in my recent mood I’ve been shelving the responsibility completely. Now I’m getting back in to the kitchen and I’m going to have a crack at some of these recipes! I’ll let you know how they go!
I think that this book is an amazing asset to adult amateurs and will make a great gift to yourself or someone you know will love it! I also would suggest it to anyone who wants to get healthier and admires ballet and the dancer’s physique, even if they don’t dance.
Although it’s not specifically aimed at more serious dancers or those in training, I think that it’s a great book to have on the shelf for all dancers. I think that the nutrition advice should be considered carefully as I mentioned above, but there are some fantastic healthy eating tips and recipes. What’s more, the book is full of inspiration and ideas from beginning to end that will benefit any dancer. If you’re a serious dancer and know that you could be healthier, or just want a resource with good recipes and exercises, this book is worth getting. However, if you’re under 18, make sure that you’re definitely eating plenty and eating from all food groups.
If you’ve read “Ballerina Body”, and especially if you’ve been using the recipes and exercises, I’d love to hear how you found the book and how you’ve been getting on-let me know in the comments!