How to Eat Green and Enjoy It

We all know that green vegetables are extremely nutritious, but they don’t usually taste good. It’s hard to get excited about eating green things, especially when they’ve gotten such a bad wrap for their often-lackluster flavor. Your body deserves the best, and in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, we’re here to show you how you can eat healthy, green things and actually enjoy them! Read on to discover some of our favorite recipes and tricks to making green vegetables taste good! Before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to eating (and enjoying) your next serving of green veggies!

 

1 — Green Smoothies

We’ve all seen these crazy concoctions, but have you ever mustered up the courage to try one? You may be surprised to find out that they are absolutely delicious. Green smoothies are one of the easiest and most effective ways to sneak leafy greens into a meal. Sometimes, adding greens to a smoothie can taste like your literally drinking a salad, but here are a few tips to makes sure yours are scrumptious.

  • Add naturally sweet fruits like strawberries, mango, pineapple and banana to help sweeten things up a bit.
  • Use fresh avocado to get a nice creamy texture.
  • Use a natural fruit juice like orange or apple as your liquid base. This will help give it a great flavor and also help the blending process.

Check out these 9 Green Smoothie Recipes You’ll Actually Enjoy Drinking from Greatist for some more ideas to help make you a green smoothie-making expert!

 

2 — Baked Zucchini Fries

Next time you find yourself craving French fries, consider going for this healthy alternative. Zucchini slices are coated in an egg, breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese mixture to make this simple dish extra flavorful. Check out the full recipe from AllRecipes.

 

3 — Bacon Green Bean Bundles

When in doubt, put some bacon on it! Ordinary green beans become extraordinary and positively delicious when they’re wrapped in crispy bacon and glazed with buttery brown sugar. Check out the full recipe from Five Heart Home here.

 

4 — Spinach Pancakes

We agree that these look pretty crazy, but hear us out! If it weren’t for their crazy color, you’d honestly have no idea that there is a heaping serving of spinach in these tasty pancakes. Pro tip: You can make these ahead and freeze them to have breakfast for the entire week! Trust us on this one; check out the full recipe from Living Well Kitchen here.

 

5 — Mint Chocolate Chip Pea Pops 

We love a sweet treat, especially when it’s healthy! Adding peas (yes, peas) to these popsicles add a fun green color and loads of nutrition to this mint chocolate chip dessert. The chocolate chips pair perfectly with the fresh mint and you’d honestly never know the peas are there aside from the color! Try this one out for yourself. Check out the recipe from Happy Healthy Mama here.

 

Do you have any favorite “green” recipes? Share them with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Show Yourself Some Love

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In the spirit of February and Valentine’s Day we’re focusing on love. Yes, it’s important to show your love and appreciation for family, friends and dance teachers, but you must not forget to love yourself! Now that competition season is in full swing, it’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day tasks. Read on to find out how you can take a moment each day to show yourself some love while still powering through your days for a successful season.

 

1 — Always be prepared.

Set yourself up for success! Whether it’s dance class or competition, it’s important to be prepared for whatever may come your way. That means all the right shoes, snacks, hair-ties and anything else you can think of. Check out this post for more ideas on how you can properly prepare yourself for success.

 

2 — Eat well.

 

Healthy bodies start in the kitchen and finish on the dance floor. If you really want to stay healthy and get stronger throughout the competition season, eating well will help you reach that goal. Stumped on where to start? Check out this post for some tips and recipe ideas.

3.  Rest.

We all know that competition season is an extremely busy and somewhat stressful time. This is why it is truly imperative to give yourself some rest. Rest days are important because it gives your body time to recover from all of that hard work and come back stronger. Here’s a great article on why rest is so important and how it can benefit you.

 

We hope you’ll take a moment to treat yourself this season. Remember, you deserve it! What’s your favorite way to show yourself some love? We’d love to hear! Share them with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Dance Resolutions for 2017

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The holidays are officially over and it’s time to get back to the grind. Have you taken a moment to think about your goals and aspirations for 2017? If not, we’re here to help you create those goals and make 2017 your best year yet! Here are five great resolution ideas to help you build toward a happy and healthy dance future in the New Year.

1. Focus on getting stronger.

It’s important to do strength-building activities to help you grow stronger which, in turn, helps you perform better on stage. Check out these ideas from Dance Spirit.

2. Listen to your body. 

If something hurts, make sure to tell your teacher or coach and never dance through the pain. Addressing the pain early on could help prevent more serious injuries in the future.

3. Get out of your comfort zone. 

This could mean performing that hip-hop solo instead of your usual contemporary, or maybe even auditioning for a new team or production. Your life truly begins when you step outside of your comfort zone — go for it!

4. Pick one move you’d like to perfect and stick to it. 

Rather than trying to work on ten different things at once, pick one thing at a time and give it your undivided attention. Once you have perfected this move, continue on down your list to the next thing.

5. Relax and have fun!

We dance because it’s fun! Try not to get too caught up in the stress of practice and competition and remember why you started dancing in the first place.  

Have you made some New Year’s Dance Resolutions of your own? We’d love to hear! Share them with us on Facebook and Twitter!

 

2016 Dancer Gift Guide

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Let’s face it. You’d rather be doing chaîné turns and grand jetés through the mall than actually looking for presents to buy your dance friends, right? Lucky for you, we’ve crafted the ultimate dancer gift guide so you can get your holiday shopping out of the way and get back to perfecting your fouettés.

 

Sweatpants

Keep it practical! You can’t deny that there’s nothing better than cozying up in a pair of comfy sweatpants before or after practice.

Personalized Water Bottle 

Everyone needs H20. This is a great one for your teammates and your dance teachers!

Candles

We could all use a little help relaxing after a long day of practice. As you relax and watch these candles burn, a cast iron sculpture is revealed as the wax melts away.

Leggings

In a dancer’s world, there is no such thing as too many leggings.

Wall Art

A little bit of inspiration goes a long way. This would be a great addition to dancer’s room or studio!

Jewelry

This bracelet is perfect for the person whose life revolves around dance!

Caboodles

Competition season is almost here and we all know how important it is to stay organized. These great organizers keep all of your hair, makeup and costume necessities in one spot.

Portable Speaker

You never know when you’ll need to break out the music and dance. This is perfect for an impromptu dance party or practice!

Crop Top

A new top always gives us a little pep in our step. Practice in style in this teal PNDC crop top!

What’s on your wish list this year? We’d love to hear what you’re getting your dance friends! Share with us below, or on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Faculty Spotlight: Shannon Atkins

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We jumped at the chance to chat with our own Shannon Atkins, who is currently teaching our dancers at #Convention! Read on to find out what some of her favorite dance memories are.

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Q: How long have you been dancing, and how long have you been teaching dance?

A: I have been dancing since I was 5 and I’ve been teaching since I was 13. I jumped at the chance to become an assistant as soon as I was old enough and I haven’t stopped. I actually performed my own self-choreographed jazz solo when I was 10, much to my teacher’s horror!

 

Q: Do you have a favorite type of dance to teach and why is it your favorite?

A: I love to teach all styles; however, I would have to say that my favorite is tap. I enjoy creating different rhythms and seeing students get such enjoyment from them. I love it when kids come up to me at the end of class at workshops and conventions and say “I’m going to get back into tap” or “You’ve inspired me to take tap”. I feel like tap is that one style that gets left behind with the trends of contemporary, lyrical and hip hop and it is therefore extremely important for us tap lovers to continue to pass on the joy of tapping!

 

Q: Which classes are you teaching at Convention?

A: I will be teaching the tap and musical theatre in the junior and senior rooms. Get ready to work up a sweat but also have a great time!

 

Q: There’s always that one move or combination that gives you a hard time. Is there any specific dance move that has been difficult for you? If so, how did you get better at it?

A: I have always struggled with jumping and leaping – I just wasn’t naturally able to achieve elevation. I would see all my friends leaping through the sky effortlessly and I would be green with envy. So, being the determined little dancer I was, I would practice and practice. I would go into the studio whenever I could and just leap and leap and leap. This did help me build strength – I guess, like anything, practice makes perfect. I also used it as an excuse to jump for hours on the trampoline. Ultimately, I think taking on extra ballet classes is what helped me. Ballet is always the answer!

 

Q: What is your favorite dance memory?

A: Aside from getting to perform in my dream musical, 42nd Street, which was incredible, it would have to be a memory from a competition with my students in Australia. We discovered we had an extra entry in the contemporary category and thought we would do something spontaneous and create something in the three hours we had on break and put it on stage. Three of my other teachers and all the kids banded together and we came up with a piece and the kids competed.  Nobody suspected it was a last-minute creation and, in fact, we got complimented on what a great routine it was. The thrill and rush combined with the fun that was had is something we will all talk about forever. We all bonded in a way that took things even further than just traveling away to compete. It was one of those “aha” moments where I thought this is what this is all about – it’s not the trophies won but the crazy memories made.

 

Q: Who are your favorite people to follow on social media (dance related or not!)?

A: This might sound corny but I like to follow my friends and family from back home on social media. It helps me to feel like I am still involved and not missing out. Our time zones are completely opposite, so it is exciting to wake up and see what the other half of the world has been up to. Like any dancer, I’m also obsessed with dance videos! Social media is great for getting new ideas and showcasing talent. I’m looking forward to seeing and sharing some videos from Convention.

 

Q: You came here all the way from Australia! What has been the biggest difference or adjustment you have had to make?

A: Learning to brave the New York weather! Winter is brutal! Snow and blizzards are very different in Australia, where you can pretty much go to the beach all year round, and the most important clothing issue is not having enough bikinis rather than worrying about whether your winter coat is warm enough. In terms of dance, learning that most kids here only have 1-2 solos was a major shock to me. In Australia, an average kid would have around 10-12 or sometimes up to 20 solos – most dance teachers here almost fall over when they hear that.

 

Q: What do you think the biggest challenge is for young dancers today, and how can they overcome it?

A: I think the biggest challenge for young dancers is finding balance in day-to-day life. Even if dance is your priority, it’s important to still make time for family life, education, time with friends, and dance training.  It is very easy to get caught up in this idea that everything revolves around dance and that you are definitely going to become a professional dancer when you are a young aspiring dancer. However, the reality is that dreams change, and it’s important to still enjoy your life outside dance and make sure you don’t miss out on making memories with family and friends. Experiences outside of dance can all be fed into your routines, and having some downtime is just what you need to make sure you crush it at competition. Sacrifices need to be made sometimes, but don’t lose sight of why we all dance – because we love it!

 

Q: Are you on social media? Our dancers would love to follow you!

A: Come and check me out at @shanzy1982 on Instagram! I’m looking forward to checking some of the dancers out on social media before convention.

 

Q: What has dance taught you?

A: If you work hard and do what you love, anything is possible! My passion for dance has brought me all the way from Australia to New York city and let me travel the world chasing my dreams. I still have to pinch myself when I remember I can walk to Broadway and see shows whenever I want!

 

Q: Dancing is tiring! What is your favorite food to help you refuel after a day of dancing?

A: I’m obsessed with the vanilla protein shakes from Juice Press. For all the Australians, I have to say it – there is no better way to feel good than eating some Vegemite toast!

Faculty Spotlight: Michael Deeb

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We can’t get enough of #Convention! It’s been great to see our dancers, dance families, and especially our amazing staff! We had the chance to chat with Michael Deeb, one of our fabulous staff members, about why he loves Convention and what he hopes our dancers will learn this year.

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Q: How long have you been teaching dance?

A: I started teaching dance when I was in high school. Dancers in the senior classes at our studio were invited to be assistant teachers starting at age 14, and I was given my first junior jazz class to teach when I was 16! I just kind of never stopped teaching after that point, and I’ve now taught many styles of dance to all ages and levels.

 

Q: Do you have a favorite type of dance to teach and why?

A: I love all styles, but my favorite to teach is Musical Theatre. I love placing focus on storytelling through movement, and watching dancers think out of the box and develop their own unique characters. I always explain that this style of dance is not about the next “big trick” or flashy step – it’s about telling a story. These focal points are things that dancers can apply to all other styles of dance, as well.

 

Q: What are you most looking forward to about Convention this year?

A: I’m looking forward to being wowed by the incredible technique and love of dance that all Platinum dancers show! The dancers attending PDE conventions get me so excited and truly inspire me!

 

Q: Which classes will you be teaching at Convention?

A: This year I am teaching Musical Theatre and Tap in the Junior and Senior rooms.

 

Q: There’s always that one move or combination that gives you a hard time. Is there any specific dance move that has been difficult for you? If so, how did you get better at it? 

A: Okay, this is embarrassing, but it took me almost an entire year to figure out how to do drawbacks in tap class. Literally just spank, heel, step. Couldn’t do it. I remember faking them across the floor for months, absolutely dreading them! I eventually asked my cousin (who was in class with me) to help me break them down, and just kept working at them until one day, everything clicked!

 

Q: What is your favorite dance memory?

A: My favorite dance memory is the four years I spent as a dance major at the University at Buffalo. Dancing in college was absolutely the best decision I could have made. I was able to train in all styles of dance, from ballet to jazz to modern to tap to ballroom, and I met my very best friends through our program. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to work hard, grow as an artist, and to cultivate my own personal style under the watchful eye of our incredible faculty.

 

Q: Who are your favorite people to follow on social media (dance related or not!)?

A: I’m a huge fan of the Final Five USA women’s gymnastics team! They are simply incredible – I think in a past life I must have been an Olympic balance beam champion…

 

Q: You have been involved in quite a few productions — which one is your favorite?

A: My favorite show of all time is A Chorus Line, and I was lucky enough to be cast as “Mike” in the national tour a few years ago. I had a blast sharing that story across the country! It’s an incredibly important piece of theatre for dancers to see. An amazing story full of classic, stylized jazz movement, and characters to root for – how can you go wrong?

 

Q: What do you think the biggest challenge is for young dancers today, and how can they overcome it?

A: The biggest challenge young dancers face today is trends vs. technique. Trends come and go, but technique never goes out of style. If dancers would replace one jazz or contemporary class a week with a ballet class, they would benefit tremendously (and we would enjoy watching them even more!). Taking ballet class is like eating your vegetables – it might not be your favorite, but it’s the most important.

 

Q: Are you on social media? Our dancers would love to follow you!

A: Yes! Follow me on Instagram @mpdeeb!

 

Q: What has dance taught you?

A: Dance has taught me how to be confident and to assert myself in space. It’s the place where I feel most confident and the most “me.” It’s not just a part of me… it IS me! I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t followed my cousin to our dance studio at age five.

 

Q: Dancing is tiring! What’s your favorite food to help you refuel after a day of dancing? 

A: Greek yogurt, low-fat string cheese, and an apple with peanut butter are my go-to snacks to get through a busy dance day. I also love protein bars – I’m a vegetarian so I need to get my protein in! Quest and Think Thin bars are my current faves. I try to always have something to munch on, since I rarely get a chance to sit down and eat a whole meal on a busy day! Oh, and WATER! Chug it. Gallons of it. Gotta stay hydrated!

 

We’ll see you at our next stop, Michael! Dancers, keep checking our blog to get to know more about our great faculty and staff.

Faculty Spotlight: Kyle Shukis

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Convention season is in full swing, and we couldn’t be more excited! Our dancers and staff are in it to win this year. We had the chance to speak with one of our great faculty members, Kyle Shukis, about why he loves to teach at Convention – and what he hopes you’ll learn this year. Read on to learn more about Kyle!

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Q: What are you most looking forward to about Convention this year?

A: I am always excited to work with a bunch of new dancers but also look forward to the students who return each year.  Getting to see their growth over time is so rewarding!

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to the dancers coming to Convention, what would it be?

A: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.  So many dancers get used to the same teachers and styles and let that box them in.  Conventions are a great place to challenge yourself in new ways and you can grow so much as a dancer in just one day!

Q: How long have you been teaching dance?

A: I started teaching dance as an assistant when I was only fifteen and haven’t stopped since!

Q: What kind of dance classes do you enjoy teaching the most? Which ones will you be teaching at Convention?

A: I love teaching classes that push your thought process as well as your technique – improvisation, choreography, movement studies etc.  I will be teaching both contemporary and jazz at the convention and love those, as well!

Q: You have a lot of experience in many areas of the dance world – which part of this industry is your favorite?

A: I used to do a lot of work on the side as a lighting designer in NYC – it was a great way to supplement my income as well as have a flexible schedule.  It’s amazing how much lighting can change and influence a piece of work and you truly feel as though you are a part of what is happening on stage.

Q: What do you think the biggest challenge is for young dancers today, and how can they overcome it?

A: I honestly think that much as the way magazines can cause people to have image problems, social media and what is posted dance wise often has the same effect on young dancers.  Most of what people post and share are things that are “perfect” and when inundated with these videos and images it causes young dancers to think they aren’t good enough.  Always remember that people are only going to post their best, and no matter how amazing a dancer is, they have both fallen and failed at something – you just aren’t there to see it.  Use these posts for inspiration, but don’t let it dictate what you feel like you need to be as a dancer.

Q: You have been involved quite a few productions – which one is your favorite?

A: I was in an all-dance production of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.”  I got to play Edmund and it was so fun to have to portray a child while also performing challenging movement.

Q: There’s always that one move or combination that gives you a hard time. Is there any specific dance move that has been difficult for you? If so, how did you get better at it?

A: I always struggled with flexibility as a younger competition dancer.  Learning how to stay warm and stretch properly and for the right amount of time helped increase my range by a huge amount.

Q: What is your favorite dance memory?

A: I have so many! One of my favorites was getting to work an extended residency in the Cayman Islands where we taught residents in the community about dance.  Everyone was so welcoming and so open minded and excited to learn new things.  We also got to perform on an open air stage outside where chickens would wander into the wings – it was so cool!

Q: Who are your favorite people to follow on social media (dance related or not!)? 

A: I love Michelle Obama on social media – she is so inspirational as a person and does so much good work around the world.  She has a snapchat that really lets you in to see how much she does each day and she is always full of positivity.

Q: Are you on social media? Our dancers would love to follow you!

A: Yes! My Instagram is kyleasaurusrex.

 

We can’t wait to see you at our next Convention stop, Kyle! Dancers, check back here to learn more about our amazing faculty and what’s in store for you this season! Are you coming to convention? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!