You know what unfortunately goes hand in hand with the greatest time of year? The dreaded cold and flu season. But, never fear—you can stay ahead of the curve this year by keeping your immune system working smoothly before the sniffles set in. We've rounded up our best tips and tricks to help you stay healthy (and dancing!) all season long.


First, Know the Difference Between a Cold vs. Fall Allergies

Photo by Igor Mozjes/Thinkstock

Many people associate allergies with spring's pretty blooms, but fall allergies can wreak havoc on your body, too. "Fall is really a key point in the allergy season, mostly because of ragweed allergy, which affects most of North America," Dr. Nadim Bikhazi, an ear, nose and throat specialist in Ogden, UT, told Weather.com. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), if your nose is running, check the color of your mucus. If it's clear, you could have allergies, but if it's yellow or green, it's probably a cold. Also, a fever is almost always a key giveaway that you have a cold or the flu—it's never a symptom of allergies.

Make Sure You're Getting Plenty of Sleep

Thinkstock

Because this is also the busiest time of year—thanks to school, holidays, and intense dance rehearsals and performances—it's super important to make sure you're getting plenty of quality sleep. (Emphasis on quality!) Did you know that catching up on sleep over the weekend isn't actually beneficial? "You wouldn't stop eating Monday through Friday, then gorge yourself over the weekend," says Dr. Rafael Pelayo, pediatrician and clinical professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine. "Even if you skip sleep completely one night, you don't sleep 16 hours the next. Ten hours or so is the most your brain allows based on evolutionary needs."

Plus, an extra few hours of "catch-up" sleep won't fix the fact that you're not getting enough sleep when you should be. And sleep is our body's best defense against illness. Check out other common sleeping mistakes dancers make here and fix your zzz's for good!

Make Sure You're Eating the Rainbow

Thinkstock

Marie Scioscia, a registered dietitian with The Ailey School, says that most green, red, blue and purple, and yellow and orange produce all contain great doses of Vitamin C, which is key for supporting a healthy immune system. Make sure you're eating a wide color spectrum by consistently reaching for things like kiwis, kale, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, red peppers, blueberries, plums, cabbage, oranges, peaches, and sweet potatoes. "Less is more when it comes to immune support. It's all about having variety in your diet and not overdoing it on one particular food or vitamin supplement," Scioscia says.

Check out Scioscia's go-to smoothie recipe to fit lots of the above fruits and veggies into one snack. It's (very appropriately) dubbed The No-Sick-Day Slurp.

Destress with Plenty of #SelfCare

Thinkstock

We get it, stress is just an unavoidable fact of life for today's teenagers—especially teens who dance. But, "if you keep experiencing stress over and over again and you don't manage it properly, it can wear and tear on your body," says Lynda Mainwaring, PhD, a sports and performance psychologist and an associate professor at the University of Toronto. Chronic, long-term stress can weaken your immune system, making future illness all the more likely.

Make sure to fit time in your busy schedule for things that make you happy. Meditate, take a yoga class or a bubble bath, journal or color, bake, or just laugh with your friends. Anything that clears your mind can undo fight-or-flight responses triggered by stress and anxiety. If you're constantly agitated no matter what, though, check out this advice to know if you should talk with a doctor.

Make Sure You're Actually Eating Vitamin C

iStock

When you feel a cold coming on, it's easy to reach for Emergen-C. But this popular supplement contains 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin C—more than 10 times the recommended daily amount! Vitamin C overload can cause stomach distress and kidney stones, so next time, Scioscia recommends grabbing an orange instead.

Stay Warm in the Studio


Photo by Jayme Thornton, modeled by Tillie Glatz

Drastic temperature changes can make our immune systems crash. Make sure you're bundled up during warm-up so your body doesn't go from freezing to boiling. And stay toasty when you're leaving the studio, too, even though putting on something snuggly may be the last thing your sweaty body wants. Check out our favorite cozy jumpsuits, that are just as cute as they are functional.

Make Sure Your Diet Includes Plenty of Garlic

Thinkstock

When it comes to boosting your immune system, nothing beats garlic. Emily Cook Harrison, a registered dietitian at Nutrition for Great Performances in Atlanta, GA, says,"Garlic isn't just anti-inflammatory. It's also shown to reduce cold symptoms." Chop up two or three cloves and add them to whatever you're cooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And If You Do Get Sick...

Thinkstock

Stay home! We know, we know, the show must go on, but it's super important to let your body rest sufficiently so that you can recover quickly. And it's so not fun for anyone else around you...no one wants to be coughed or sneezed on! Sometimes, rest and recovery can even take your dancing to the next level.

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Jacqueline Chang, courtesy of Ailey Extension

Marshall Davis Jr.'s introduction to tap dance began at 10 years old at African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, where his father is director, in Miami, Florida. Training began in sneakers and dress shoes that Davis Jr. did his best to get sound out of. "My father was reluctant to invest in tap shoes, because he thought it was likely I would change my mind about dancing," he says. But it didn't take long before Davis Jr.'s passion for tap became undeniable, and his father bought him his first pair of tap shoes. Just one year later, Davis Jr. became the 1989 Florida winner for the Tri-Star Pictures Tap Day contest, a promotion for the movie Tap, starring Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr. Through that experience, a new tap-dancing future was opened.

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Q: Are there good sources to find replacement dance teachers? When I go through standard employment services, I get people who are not properly trained or lack experience.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Courtesy of Susan Jaffe

Throughout Susan Jaffe's performance career at American Ballet Theatre, there was something special, even magical, about her dancing. Lauded as "America's quintessential American ballerina" by The New York Times, Jaffe has continued to shine in her postperformance career, most recently as the dean of dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She credits the "magic" to her meditation practice, which she began in the 1990s at the height of her career. We sat down with Jaffe to learn more about her practice and how it has helped her both on and off the stage.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Reviewing a simple recording of your voice when you're teaching can help you hear how you sound to your students. Taking the time to play back your instructions, corrections and compliments throughout class will help you find any weak spots as well as recognize some of your strengths. It's a great technique to help you evaluate your instructional ability and make improvements, and pat yourself on the back for things you are doing well. Plus, it's super-easy to do!

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Including ballet competition standout Alina Taratorin (photo by Oliver Endahl, courtesy Taratorin)

Congratulations to the 39 talented dancers just named 2020 YoungArts award winners! This year's group of awardees includes several familiar faces from the competition scene.

Keep reading... Show less
To Share With Students
Photo by Brian Babineau, courtesy Burghardt

When Alicia Burghardt entered Dean College in Massachusetts as a freshman dance major, it hadn't occurred to her that the Boston Celtics had a dance team. A competition kid with aspirations for Broadway, Burghardt never imagined herself as an NBA dancer. But by the time she was finishing her senior year, she'd not only joined the Celtics Dancers, she was choreographing a number for a major playoff game. And after finishing her rookie year, surrounded on that TD Garden parquet floor by uproarious fans, she couldn't help but stay for another. "It's unbelievable performing for Boston fans," she says. "They're so loyal to their team. It could be third quarter, down 20 points, and they're still cheering."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
"The Greatest Show on Earth." Photo by Brenda Rueb, courtesy of Vona Dance

Your year-end recital is your studio's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not only is it the time for your dancers to celebrate what they've accomplished during the year, it's your opportunity to demonstrate to parents firsthand the value of a dance education. A successful recital can also grant your school an influential role in the local community. Whether a prominent conservatory or a small-town studio, and whether your dancers win competitions or take classes once a week, your year-end recital is the chance for your dancers—and your program—to shine.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending

"No formal training. No dance studio. No mentor," says Erik Saradpon about his beginnings in hip hop.

"I think that's why I'm especially tough on these guys, because I don't take the relationship for granted," he says, referring to his students. "I'm like a dad to them. I had a shortage of role models in my life. I wanted that so badly. I project that onto my kids."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
From Coppélia. Photo by Toshi Oga, courtesy of MOGA

Your year-end recital is your studio's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not only is it the time for your dancers to celebrate what they've accomplished during the year, it's your opportunity to demonstrate to parents firsthand the value of a dance education. A successful recital can also grant your school an influential role in the local community. Whether a prominent conservatory or a small-town studio, and whether your dancers win competitions or take classes once a week, your year-end recital is the chance for your dancers—and your program—to shine.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Nanette Grebe/Getty Images

Have you heard the story about the dancer who needed a double hip replacement…at age 16?

It's not an urban legend—just ask iconic choreographer Mia Michaels. In a video series about dance injuries, produced by Apolla Performance Footwear, Michaels tells the tale of a teenage comp kid who pushed so hard she ended up in surgery.

That dancer's harrowing story was one of the inspirations for the Bridge Dance Project. The new initiative—brainchild of Jan Dunn, co-director of Denver Dance Medicine Associates, and Kaycee Cope Jones, COO of Apolla—aims to connect members of the competition and commercial dance communities with dance science experts. While many academic and professional concert dancers have benefited from recent advances in dance medicine, that information hasn't made its way to most of the young students in convention ballrooms. And as the technical demands on those students increase, so does the number of injuries.

We talked to Dunn and Jones about how the Bridge Dance Project was born, the initiative's long-term goals, and why young competition and commercial dancers should make injury prevention a priority.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Jessica Kubat (center) with her studio staff. Photo by Vincent Alongi, courtesy of Kubat

Jessica Kubat's path to becoming a studio owner wasn't typical or glamorous or the product of a family business, handed down. When she opened MJ's House of Dance in Lindenhurst, New York, this past summer, she had just turned 40, was a mom of three, and had worked at two different studios long-term. Over the last two and a half years, she'd painstakingly saved up $25,000 and had gone to the Small Business Development Center at a local college on Long Island for help creating her business plan. Her area was moderately saturated with studios, so she spent considerable time planning what would set her school apart—live musical accompaniment, for one—and hired a marketing director nine months before the business even opened. It was a methodical, careful approach—Kubat calls it "the old-fashioned way"—to opening a studio, and it's paid off: She started summer classes with 75 students and is well on her way to reaching her first-year enrollment goal of 250 dancers. "When I turned 40, I decided that it was time to do something bigger," says Kubat. "I always wanted to own a studio—it was just never financially available to me."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
From "Boston—Our City." Photo by Rachel Hassinger, courtesy of BalletRox

Your year-end recital is your studio's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not only is it the time for your dancers to celebrate what they've accomplished during the year, it's your opportunity to demonstrate to parents firsthand the value of a dance education. A successful recital can also grant your school an influential role in the local community. Whether a prominent conservatory or a small-town studio, and whether your dancers win competitions or take classes once a week, your year-end recital is the chance for your dancers—and your program—to shine.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox