Former New York City Ballet dancer Linda Hamilton,
Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice, the
author of Advice for Dancers (Jossey-Bass) and
co-author of The Dancer’s Way: The New York
City Ballet Guide to Mind, Body, and Nutrition (St.
Martin’s Griffin). Her website is drlindahamilton.com.
Dr. Linda Hamilton
2000 Broadway, PH2C, New York, NY 10023
What’s your opinion about dating sites? Most of my dancer friends use
OkCupid to meet people outside of our crazy performance schedules. I
gave it a try—only to discover that the nice guy online cheats like my last
boyfriend, who I met at a bar. Help!
—Heartbroken, Yonkers, NY
Sadly, there are no guarantees in love whether you meet that special
someone in person or online. Still, dating sites do save dancers precious
time in their busy workday. If you are considering online dating, it pays to
do your homework by googling reviews of the site to help you get an idea
of the kinds of members it attracts. Once you start seeing someone new, I
like to refer to it as the “audition” phase, where you slowly get to know each
other. Watch out for red flags, such as inconsistent behavior, mysterious
phone calls or texts and roving eyes. That, along with a history of short-term
relationships, could signal problems with lying and monogamy. If you have
concerns, try to discuss them rationally, but be prepared to run, not walk,
to the nearest exit if you get blamed for being insecure. In the meantime,
consider this quirky fact: Breakups activate some of the same pain centers in
the brain as a physical injury. If you’re still hurting from the end of your latest
relationship, taking Tylenol for the next two weeks can work wonders.
I switched to a vegan diet six months ago because I am against animal
cruelty, but I’m starting to feel increasingly tired and run-down. Could my
diet be affecting my energy?
—Alyssa, Seattle, WA
Absolutely. While I admire your determination to be true to your beliefs,
it can be tough to meet your nutritional needs as a vegan—and a dancer.
As you know, a typical vegan diet excludes all animal products, including
eggs, dairy, meat, seafood and honey. Unless you understand how to
get the nutrients you need, you may be depriving yourself of crucial
food components like fat-soluble vitamins and high-quality protein.
Another potential problem for vegans is vitamin B12 deficiency, which has
been linked to anemia (which goes hand in hand with fatigue). But that
doesn’t mean you can’t be a dancer and a vegan. See your doctor for a
checkup and complete blood count to assess your levels of nutrients like
vitamin B12 and iron. You should also see a registered dietitian who can work
with you to create a balanced diet. Fortified foods and supplements can help
prevent nutritional imbalances in a vegan diet, while complete sources of
protein, like quinoa, with all nine essential amino acids, along with healthy
fats and protein from nuts and nut butters can help you maintain your energy.
What’s the safest way to return to class after being sidelined with a bad
back? I’ve stayed in shape with Pilates, and my doctor says I’m ready for
barre as long as I cut out anything strenuous—but that’s practically the
entire barre in company class. I don’t see how this is going to work.
—Curtis, Queens, NY
Based on your doctor’s advice and your own concerns, it sounds like
your body’s not ready to return to company class. Taking barre with your
colleagues might add undue pressure to catch up prematurely. A transition
class that bridges the gap between rehab and recovery would be ideal.
You need time to trust your body as you rebuild your ability to dance at
your peak. My advice is to find an adult beginner or intermediate dance
class with a smart teacher who focuses on proper placement, while taking
past injuries into account. Once you’ve mastered the entire class, you can
move up to more advanced levels with your doctor’s approval. As always,
keep your director informed about your progress. Many dancers come back
better than before by taking a slow, methodical approach to their career
advicefordancers | BY LINDA HAMILTON
Dating tips for busy performers,
plus how to keep your energy up
while eating vegan
Dancers on a vegan diet should make sure
they are getting enough fat-soluble vitamins,
protein and healthy fats to fuel their dancing.