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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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...

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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.

The Conversation
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It's February! The month of love (and by extension, the month of pink) is upon us. We are major fans of a good class theme, and dressing lovey-dovey is one of our very favorites! So this month, to keep you on brand, we have a list of our favorite pink leos on the market right now. They're all kinds of wonderful.

Check them out and let us know your favorite in the comments!

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Just for fun
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It's the day after Valentine's Day, and every single one of us is in a chocolate coma scrolling through endless love posts on social media. It's both the best and the worst day of the year 😂. Obnoxiously mushy Instagram captions aside, whether you have a significant other or not, we all know that your studio co-workers are the actual loves of your life.

Check out our five reasons why, and let us know over in our comments if we got 'em right!

XOXO

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: Do you have any advice for dividing students into groups?

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Dance Teacher Tips
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In Antoine Hunter's jazz class, students inevitably pick up sign language just by virtue of being his student. Though he doesn't typically incorporate ASL into his class combos, this dynamic phrase, which is one of his favorites, includes four signs: "heart," " re," "gone" and "deaf."

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The Big Apple Tap Fest, courtesy of Dee

Debbi Dee took her first tap class at age 5 from vaudevillian hoofer and rhythm tapper Curly Fisher, in Rochester, New York. She studied tirelessly with him in the garage he had turned into a small, makeshift dance studio until she was 13 years old, when he claimed he had taken her as far as he could, and she needed to find herself a new teacher. Instead, she jumped feet first into her professional career, tapping with the Lawrence Welk and Count Basie orchestras on the traveling state fair circuit, on the Bob Hope USO shows, and in nightclubs in Vegas and the Catskills.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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We've all had times when we've failed miserably while trying our best to communicate important concepts and ideas to our students. We are all well-meaning with hopes that our dancers will achieve their dreams and become kind humans along the way. Unfortunately, our delivery may need some honing in order to help them without causing some damage,

Here are four common phrases dance teachers often say, and four ways we can adjust them to make them constructive and productive.

Let us know over on our Facebook page what phrases you try to avoid as a dance teacher!

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Just like your car, your studio needs periodic tune-ups to keep it humming along smoothly. If you take the time to address a few small fixes, your business will stand out. And you don't have to break the bank, either—you might be surprised how low-cost, DIY improvements can make a surprising difference.

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Running a studio can be a major juggling act. It's no surprise, then, that a few things slip through the cracks—costing you money or students. Watch out for two common but often unnoticed mistakes, and you'll find yourself with more time, clients and revenue on your hands.

1. Using online registration as a crutch

If you offer registration via your studio website, make sure you aren't losing clients by neglecting in-person registration. One day Kathy Morrow, director of Dance Du Coeur in Sugar Land,Texas, overheard a front desk staffer directing a new client to the studio's website to register, rather than offering to do it over the phone. "I thought, You had a fish on the hook—why didn't you walk them through it?" she says. "When you register, there are a lot of boxes to check off. Some people want to pay with a check, some to link to a credit card. We can make it easier by answering any questions directly."

2. Not delegating

Have you heard yourself say, once too often, "If I want it done right, I have to do it myself"? Overextending yourself because of perfectionism or a misguided need to control can be counterproductive. By creating choreography, teaching, bookkeeping, cleaning, making phone calls, typesetting, doing payroll, mailings and ordering, you could be leaving no time for the very things that will create your best business. Misty Lown decided to delegate all the teaching at her Onalaska, Wisconsin-based studio, Misty's Dance Unlimited. "Giving up teaching was super-hard," she says, "but it's the best decision I ever made. Whenever I was teaching, it meant I never saw the other five classrooms that were operating during that time. Now I can rotate my time checking on classrooms and interacting with students."

Dance Teacher Tips
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Working with a 9-year-old student, Alexandra Koltun asks the young girl to face the barre. She reviews fifth position, demi-pointe with the front foot and coupé devant. "I separate all the positions, so the student understands each one," says Koltun, founder and artistic director of Koltun Ballet Boston. She reaches down to shape the girl's foot into sur le cou-de-pied, leaving the heel in front and gently squeezing the toes around the ankle. "This position will equip the foot with more strength," she says.

Depending on a ballet teacher's preference and style of training, sur le cou-de-pied (meaning "on the neck of the foot") may be incorporated into class at different times and in various ways. From steps like pas de cheval to frappé and développé, the wrapped position can be fundamental to a student's technical development. Or it can be used less often and as a supplement to cou-de-pied front and back. Either way, the value of the position remains constant as a tool to mold and strengthen dancers' feet.

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Just for fun

Show your significant other how much you love them through dance! Send them one of your favorite romantic dance videos that best describes your feelings, and they're sure to swoon!

Here are four of our favorites that depict a range of emotions along the spectrum of true love. Let us know over on our Facebook page which one best represents your relationship!

You're welcome in advance!

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The best way to celebrate a holiday in the dance teacher world is to create a class combo that fits the theme! It's a sure-fire way to get you and your kiddos into the spirit of the day! So, Valentine's Day, we recommend some mushy, cheesy, oh-so-wonderful love songs!

Check out these six songs for potential class combo ideas. They're sure to be a hit.

You're welcome!

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When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

Here, Clough shares her best advice for new studio owners, and the answers to some common questions that come up when you're getting started.

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