by Tuhina Bhattacharya
Last season, (choreographer) Christine Zimmermann, got me to dance with a rope. I had not danced with a prop for years! This season she has me crawling on the ground as a zombie in her contemporary piece (Heavy in Your Arms). And if that wasn’t enough, she is also getting me to buy a perfectly new dress and trash it to make it look like I came out of an old grave.
Yes, Tuhina, who hand washes much of her clothing in an effort to make them last longer, will use scissors, dye, dirt, etc. on a new dress. Considering how much fun I’m having during rehearsals as a dancing zombie, trashing a dress will probably be fun too. A big thank you to OnStage Dance Company and Christine, for getting me out of my comfort zone.
If you were expecting to see a picture of my trashed zombie dress, you’re out of luck. You’ll just have to come to the show on June 28 at the Boston Conservatory.
*Tickets for OnStage Dance Company's Season Nine Performance will go on sale in June.
By Heather Dowds
By this point in my OnStage blogging career, you all should recognize me as the girl who does literally as many dances as Jen and Kelly allow (typically 6). For dancers new to the company, I'm the one Jen called out at the meeting as signing up and actually committing to all the dances I can do. I love to dance and I love my dance family at OnStage, so why wouldn't I want to be at the studio every second that I can?
Preliminary rosters only cause stress when I don't get into one of my top choices. But most times, I am happy with what I've gotten into and simply submit my commitment to the season. I also look at what I got wait listed for and hope the dance gods and goddesses are on my side and will allow me to dance every night of the week! Honestly, I often get very lucky when it comes to wait lists, so that should be a bode of confidence for new members worried about how many they didn't get into on Prelims! I typically sit back and watch my friends try to work out their schedule so they can be in the pieces they want to be in. Me? I egg them on with comments like: "Life is much easier when you do all of the dances."
My only challenge this season is that Jen and Kelly lowered the max number of dances to 5. OH NO! THE HUMANITY. Just kidding, because I wanted to do #only5 anyways.
by Terez Lowry
Food directly affects mood, health and performance. With tech, dress rehearsals, run throughs and two performances on the horizon, what should you be doing nutrition-wise to feel healthy, stable and energized this week? Here’s some info on dancer nutrition I've pulled together that might be helpful:
Week before the performance:
Don’t try to drastically change your diet, lose weight, etc. Try to eat well balanced meals with plenty of carbohydrates to fuel your muscles, protein to build and repair them, and vitamins to keep your body functioning at it’s best. Aim for 8 glasses of water a day to keep your muscles and mind healthy.  To help your muscles recover quickly after rehearsals and run throughs, grab a dose of carbohydrates and protein within 40 minutes, and try to get a good amount of sleep. Getting food into the body after a workout will help prevent soreness, improve the recovery of muscles and tendons and encourage the growth of lean muscle tissue. 
Night before the performance:
Avoid processed food which will contain too much sodium and cause bloating. Skipping alcohol is a good idea as well. Slower muscle recovery, depleted water and nutrients, and disrupted sleep are just a few down sides.  The dietitian for the Houston Ballet recommends a dinner along the lines of grilled salmon, brown rice, steamed broccoli and fruit salad, with lots of water to drink. 
Morning of the Performance:
Dance nutrition experts mostly agree that the best approach to performance day nutrition is eating small meals throughout the day, starting with a substantial breakfast to get your body and mind fueled and ready to go. Breakfast options should be low on sugar and high on nutrients, such as oatmeal with fruit, plain greek yogurt, whole grain toast with peanut butter, or a smoothie with banana, spinach, blueberries and oj. The head trainer for the Rockettes recommends a spinach omelette with wheat toast.  Watch your caffeine intake, too much can leave you shaky and can heighten your anxiety.
Pay attention to what makes you feel bloated and heavy. Everyone can have sensitivity to different foods. Try limiting the amount of beans, lentils, broccoli, asparagus, soda and milk you eat on performance day. You might find you need to cut back on sorbitol - found in peaches, prunes, apples and pears. Or starchy foods like bread, cereal and pasta - rice is a good alternative. Watch out for swallowing air (aerophagia) by avoiding chewing gum, drinking soda or eating too quickly. 
Throughout the Day:
Make sure you DRINK FLUIDS. Staying hydrated is key to performing your best and preventing injury. Your muscles are brittle without water, and when you’re hydrated, they’re more pliable. Not to mention you’ll remember that choreography more easily and recover faster later.  Liquid energy boosters like oatmeal, smoothies, apple sauce, soup and gatorade are great because they are easy to digest and will empty your stomach quickly.
For optimum strength, put something in your stomach a couple hours prior to dancing. Trail mix, a banana with peanut butter, or yogurt are all good choices. Watch the labels on energy bars, you want nothing containing sugar alcohols, which tend to cause gas, cramping, bloating and diarrhea. The physician for the San Francisco Ballet says “White bread, white rice, and other junk foods break down so quickly that it’s almost like eating plain sugar. You get an insulin rush, and 15 minutes you’re left with less energy and you’re hungry again.”  So try switching out the donut for edamame, hummus on crackers, or nuts.
After the performance:
Within 40 minutes of performing, eat again to help your muscles repair and hydrate. Combine protein and carbohydrates to maximize your recovery. And feel fabulous because you made it!
Liked this article? You may also enjoy: Second-Day Soreness by Jessi Haggerty, RD.
by Jillian Coen
Girrrrrrrrrrrrrrl. It's about that time! Get ready to slay 'em out there on the stage. I am a big believer in "if you look good you feel good," and if you feel good, you will turn it OUT on stage. Can we kiki for a minute?
There are two things that are true in this world: Watch your fucking face, and YouTube is forever. Get into it! Make them eat it! When I go out on the stage, I just pretend I am a drag queen...specifically Alyssa Edwards. Not only is she my favorite, she owns a kids' dance company in Texas, where she breeds tiny girls into drag queens. She "doesn't get cute, she gets drop dead gorgeous." Google her... you're welcome.
She has complete confidence and owns every minute of her performance. We have been working so hard for this for 10 weeks! Getting up early, coming home late, missing out on time with family and friends... so you better make it worth it on Saturday, Jan 31st hunty!
Get your hair right, your makeup right, your choreo right. And most importantly - your face! Ain't nobody paying $15 to see you NOT kill it girl. People are coming to be entertained! Get yourself a good judy in the dressing room that Saturday, beat your mug and feel your oats. Perform for the Gods. I can't wait to get all up in this gig, girls.
Alyssa's mantra though: "Kick dip, spin, pose...watch us turn the party on these hoes."
Purchase tickets for OnStage Dance Company's Season Eight Performance.
by Jennifer Crowell-Kuhnberg
We asked our dancers to share their New Years Resolutions for improving dance-related skills in 2015 and how they plan to achieve their goals. Here's Part II of our post...
Name: Tuhina Bhattacharya
Favorite Dance Style: Jazz
New Years Resolution: My goal for this year is to strengthen my core so that I can increase my endurance and improve my jumps and turns.
How I plan to achieve the goal: I've added plank exercises to my daily abdominal workout and hopefully I can hold these planks for longer and longer as I gain more strength.
How long I think it'll take to achieve: At least a few months, but the real goal is to maintain it once I get there.
Name: Alyssa Rosenfeld
Favorite Dance Style: Sassy Jazz
New Years Resolution: To do a handstand! And then walk on my hands.
How I plan to achieve the goal: Do more yoga!
How long I think it'll take to achieve: A whole lot of yoga classes
Name: Siobhan Christopher
Favorite Dance Style: Ballet. I love Lyrical and Contemporary Jazz as well, but if I had to pick I would say Ballet. It's also my strongest style of dance.
New Years Resolution: My New Years resolution is to take more dance classes. When I was living in California I danced practically every night, but with my intense work schedule it's difficult to take as many dance classes as I would like to. I teach dance and coach gymnastics for a living, so I feel grateful for that and at least still get some practice in by doing so, but it's not the same/
How I plan to achieve the goal: My plan to achieve this goal is to make myself go take class the nights I can make it fit into my schedule even when I'm feeling tired!
How long I think it'll take to achieve: I feel this goal should only take me a few weeks to achieve.
Name: Valerie Angell
Favorite Style of Dance: Tap
New Years Resolution: To not break myself for once
How I plan to achieve the goal: I plan to achieve this goal by investing in a bubble wrap suit.
How long I think it'll take to achieve: Theoretically it should take a year, but I'd be happy to get to the show.
Name: Jennifer Crowell-Kuhnberg
Favorite Dance Style: Contemporary
New Years Resolution: To expand my knowledge of dance in general and be more well rounded. As a dance instructor and choreographer I'd like to have a greater understanding of dance history, the evolution of dance styles, anatomy, etc. and be able to incorporate that into my work.
How I plan to achieve the goal: Actually read the dance books I own and not just look at the pictures. Take class by a variety of teachers, even ones that are out of my comfort zone.
How long I think it'll take to achieve: Hopefully this can become part of my regular routine soon - but I hope I never stop learning and growing as an artist, so this is more of a life-long goal. No pressure!
Read: Dance, Dance Resolution - Part I
by Jennifer Crowell-Kuhnberg
If there's one thing we all have in common on New Years Day, it's our big push to accomplish our new resolutions. Whether it's overcoming bad habits, learning new things or improving a skill, we all have things we'd like to focus on to make us better, healthier and happier people.
We asked our Season Eight dancers to share their dance-related resolutions, how they plan to achieve them and how long they think it'll take to reach their goal. What about you? How are you planning to challenge yourself in 2015?
Name: Nina Pomponio
Favorite Dance Style: Lyrical
New Years Resolution: My dance goal for this year is to improve my flexibility, especially in my ankles and feet. I have noticed that my small plie (due to my horribly inflexible ankles) is really hindering my ability to turn as well as I would like. Turns were always my strength in my teens, so I definitely do not want to lose that skill now that I am in my thirties.
How I plan to achieve the goal: So much stretching! I've started by stretching my calves and feet first thing every morning when I wake up. Then it's more stretching at my desk, waiting in line, post-workout, before bed, whenever!
How long I think it'll take to achieve: I don't believe any goal is truly "achieved" in the sense that you can check it off the list and forget about it. The goal is to make this another one of my healthy habits from here on out.
Name: Caitlin DeCortin
Favorite Dance Style: Contemporary
New Years Resolution: Become more flexible... I want to get my oversplits!
How I plan to achieve the goal: Stretch every day or at least 4-5 times a week...hopefully having this on the OnStage blog will hold me accountable!
How long I think it'll take to achieve: Definitely at least a couple of months...maybe closer to a year!
Name: Sydney Robinson
Favorite Dance Style: Contemporary
New Years Resolution: Diving back into choreography/collaborating with other dancers, and finding improvisational dance opportunities!
How I plan to achieve the goal: Converting my living room space into a temporary dance studio, learning to discretely choreograph in my head while walking, riding the T and working during the day, and finding workshops that bring me out of my comfort zone.
How long I think it'll take to achieve: Already in the process but hoping to create a piece that can live on for more than a couple of months or one performance!
Name: Jillian Coen
Favorite Dance Style: Hip Hop
New Years Resolution: Learn how to dance Dominican Dembow
How I plan to achieve the goal: Go back to DR!
How long I think it'll take to achieve: 6 mojitos
Name: Jessi S.
Favorite Dance Style: Emotional!
New Years Resolution: Build up my endurance for fast/long dances. I get winded and fatigued rather quickly because of health issues, and my own lack of strength.
How I plan to achieve the goal: It’s going to be hard since I’ll most likely be missing spring season! I should probably take up running…yeah, not going to happen. But with working out at least a bit each day, practicing old dances, and maybe a class or two; someday I’ll be ready to kick any dance’s butt!
How long I think it'll take to achieve: Its an ongoing process. But I’m hoping to make significant progress even by the time of our show! Steady as she goes from there.
by Jennifer Crowell-Kuhnberg
This past summer, I had the awesome opportunity to choreograph the latest music video for Boston musician, Jamie Lynn Hart. Her new single, "Bad," was a pop/rock/funk/disco jam in need of some seriously sassy moves.
From full-stage productions to one-time "throwaway" combos for class, I've probably created hundreds of routines over my 10-year career as a choreographer and dance instructor - but this was my first music video. I couldn't wait to get started and take on this new challenge.
Jamie wanted a pop-inspired dance that fans would want to learn themselves and follow along to the video. She referenced Haim's "If I Could Change Your Mind" and I immediately thought of iconic girl groups: The Supremes, TLC and Destiny's Child. Jamie would be flanked by two lovely back-up dancers, the very talented Shannon Corey (also a Boston musician) and Twyla Everett, the best Hip Hop dancer I know.
We only had a few hours of rehearsal time over the course of two days to learn, clean and practice the routine. At first, we were all a little worried that we wouldn't have enough time - but these ladies were super professional and hard working. By the end of day two I was confident they would look amazing in front of the camera.
I arrived on set ready to get to work - but had to wait for what seemed like forever for the girls to get their hair, makeup and wardrobe done! I lost count of how many outfit combinations they tried on before deciding on the winning looks. We also had to wait for all the lighting and cameras to be set up and focused. Certainly, the hardest part of being a choreographer is sitting around and waiting!!
When everything was finally ready, Jamie, Shannon and Twyla danced the routine over and over and over again. It was shot from every angle, zoomed in and out, left to right, in different formations... you name it. There must have been a least a hundred takes. Talk about having to keep your energy up. Meanwhile, I did a little bit of coaching from the sidelines and tried to resist the urge to jump in the shot to join in!
We had to wait four whole months before the video would be released. The real hardest part of being a choreographer for a music video is having zero control of the editing process. You have no idea how the director will cut, edit or interpret your work and there's nothing you can do about it! Ask any choreographer what it's like to give up control of their work and their eye will probably start twitching. Luckily, Jamie Lynn had a great team working for her and the video came out amazing! I'm so glad to be sharing it with all of you and hope you'll spread the link far and wide across the internets.
by Christine Zimmermann
If you don’t already know who Yanis Marshall is, it’s high-time you do. A French choreographer, dancer, and teacher whose signature pieces are performed in heels higher than I could ever hope to walk in, he is the most profound personification of artistic ferocity.
Marshall’s is the only YouTube channel I subscribe to, and it is always a treat when new videos of his choreo grace my inbox. Last week, I was disappointed to load up for his work to Queen Bey’s “Rocket,” only to find that the audio had been removed for copyright reasons. As luck would have it, Yanis doesn’t need music. Watching this silent, black and white footage is like being transported back to a 1920’s Charlie Chaplin picture-show, just with more leg.
His movement in this piece is enthralling, and I’m especially mesmerized by the blur of his arms at 0:56. But, I warn you… watch on YouTube and it could be hours before you climb back out of the Yanis Marshall rabbit hole.
By Jillian Coen
Hey ya'll! Last time you heard from me I was super pregnant (Read: Step Up 2: The Womb) ...and I stayed super pregnant over two entire long hot weeks after I was supposed to give birth. Cruel summer for real. But now I am happy to report I am dancing in four pieces in my eighth season of OnStage Dance Company.
After spending the summer large and in charge...seriously, I gained over 55 pounds. I was so eager to get back to my old self. I wanted to lose the weight I put on and get back to my life of rehearsals and teaching fitness classes. Turns out my old self didn't have an adorable tiny BFF by her side at all times. My son Jack is my entire world... and in this world I have to find a way to make it work to continue to do all the things I love. My husband plays on two soccer teams, so between work, rehearsals, games and practices... the Coen family is always busy.
I refuse to stop being me. I can't tell you how many times people told me, "You're going to have to stop dancing when you have a baby" or "Get ready to give up your life." If anything life has just gotten fuller. I'm not giving anything up... I'm just adding more crazy fun. Sure, it takes a lot of hustle to make it work. Just to go to rehearsal, I have to pump and feed 60 minutes before. It's to the point where I have an adapter that plugs into the lighter in my car so I can pump on my way home from the studio. It's crazy up in here in this new life but I'm killing it everyday. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something. You can always make it work... bitch.
By Danielle Doody
I just had my first rehearsal for my jazz piece to 'Don't Stop Me Now.' I was very excited and nervous, to start working on the piece. All the nervousness for this piece coming to life came from prior to Onstage.
Before dancing with OnStage Dance Company I had only recently started dancing again. Once I graduated college, I didn't dance for four years. I didn't make it a priority. I made being an adult - with a job, bills, and school loans - my priority. I found a dance studio in my hometown of Beverly, MA that offered a couple adult drop-in classes so I considered starting again. The biggest push was from my husband who saw me stop dancing and knew how much I missed it.
I started taking a couple classes two nights a week. I thought it would easy to start again since I work out regularly. Was I wrong!? Right away I realized those dance muscles hadn't been used for years and it wasn't as easy to jump back in as I thought it would be!
A friend from college, Christine Zimmermann (we were on the same dance team together at Clark University) invited me to the Season Six performance for OnStage Dance Company. I couldn't attend, but checked out the website. Instantly, I was intrigued and emailed her probably a million questions. This led me to audition for Season Seven.
I was (and still am) so pumped I joined OnStage and have the chance to dance again. The studio is so close to where I live and it offers so many choices of dances styles. The great thing too is meeting other dancers, whom I wouldn't have met otherwise.
Now in Season Eight, I had not choreographed a group piece since college, so I was nervous! This is also the first time I have ever choreographed to the lyrics, not counts. This is out of my comfort zone, and for those that know me, I don't leave my comfort zone often. Although this is only my second season with OnStage Dance Company, I wanted to make sure I gave the same direction that the other choreographers I have worked with gave to me. On the first night of rehearsals, I quickly realized the group of dancers I have in my piece are truly amazing and awesome ladies! Their excitement and eagerness to keep adding on was so great.
I am truly looking forward to the next nine weeks of practice to see 'Don't Stop Me Now' develop and come to life.
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