A story about courage and inspiration by Gina Assetta – NDWF Executive Board Member

When I was asked to write for the NDWF blog I thought I’d write about how I’ve watched National Dance Week grow over the last 9 years.  I’d like to save that topic for another day and talk about how dance inspires me.  I’m not a dancer, yet I have worked closely with dance teachers and those in the industry since 1999. I also grew up near Boston and still live in Massachusetts.  The bombings at the Boston Marathon in 2013 deeply affected me. Not only was I devastated that people can be so cruel to others, but I was proud of my city and how they worked together to find the bombers, and how they stood united to show the world how strong we can be when united.

adrianne-Gina's Blog

One of the survivors is Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a ballroom dancer (notice that is not in the past tense).  On the day of the bombings, she lost her left leg below the knee.  She was at the race on a whim, with her husband newly returned from Afghanistan.  On the day they were celebrating his safe return.  Despite knowing that no amputee has ever before danced- she knew she would do it.  And she did. Less than a year after her tragedy.  Not only did dance inspire her to work towards her goal, but she inspires the rest of us.  Since I saw her first dance on youtube I have thought of her frequently.

Many of you reading this blog are dancers yourself and will most likely be familiar with her story on some level.  Why am I writing a blog about her in January- it’s not an anniversary of the bombing?  She hasn’t been in the news recently.  I’m writing about it because when I think of the mission of National Dance Week, to celebrate dance and promote fun fitness.  Every time Adrianne dances, she celebrates dance.  The “fun” she puts into dance is not easy, or something to take for granted.  Her drive to do what brings her joy has inspired me in my daily life to work harder to achieve and realize my own goals.

For an in depth view of Adrianne’s journey, watch Adrianne Haslet-Davis: The Survivor Diaries (2014)



Sports Nutrition for Dancers By Shantha M. Wilson, R.D.

Wraps - Jan 2015

As dancers, you know your body is your instrument.  But have you ever thought of yourself as an athlete?  Dancers are indeed athletes, with many dancers training 6-8 hours per day five to six days per week.  Sports nutrition is key for dancers, just as it is for all athletes.  Good nutrition is critical for energy, for the body to repair itself daily, and for injury prevention.  Adequate calories, protein, and water are necessary for your body to keep up with the demands of strenuous dance training for hours every day.  Proper nutrition is key to high performance and injury prevention.  Nutrient timing is also an important component of sports nutrition.  A proper diet will fuel your body correctly, allowing you to perform at your highest level.

Don’t starve yourself!  Your body needs adequate fuel in order to perform. This is much like fuel for a car.  The car won’t run without it.  Neither will your body.  You can’t have your best extensions or leaps without proper energy.  Many dancers limit food prior to an audition so that they look extra lean.  The most likely consequence of extreme calorie limitation is that you don’t have enough energy to get through the day’s class schedule.  This is because you have depleted glycogen stores of fuel in your body.  The second consequence to calorie limitation is injury, which can cause you to sit out for a period of training, performance, competition, or audition, and possibly be permanent.

By the same token, the proper fuel is required for your body to perform at its peak.  Similarly to a car, if you add water or diesel instead of unleaded fuel to a car, it will not run properly.  If you don’t have enough or the right fuel for your journey, your car will stop running before you get to your destination.  This is similar to dance athletes needing proper nutrition to fuel the body.  Not only do you need enough fuel to get you through your class and rehearsal schedule, you need the right kind of fuel (nutrients) to avoid crashing in the middle of activity.  In other words, eating junk food won’t get you through your schedule or allow you to perform at your peak.  You will crash in the middle of your scheduled day or performance.  Does this mean a dancer can never have any sweets or other empty calories?  Not at all.  The key is moderation and timing.  A good guideline to remember is no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from sweets or empty calories.  An average female dance athlete needs 2,000 calories per day which means 200 calories or less come from treats.

To properly fuel your body and avoid injury, dancers need adequate carbohydrate, protein, fat, and water.  To receive these essential nutrients, eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible that are made up of mostly whole, unrefined foods that retain their nutrients and fiber.  This is the rule for the majority of your food intake.  Right before, during and after an event, think of fueling more than nutrition.  At these times, eating refined or processed foods make the most sense so that food is digested easily and energy can get to muscles quickly such as a sports drink, protein bar, or protein shake.  It is important to include carbohydrate and protein in the post workout/recovery window.  Recovery nutrition occurs 15 minutes to one hour following exercise.  The carbohydrate does more than restore energy, it helps with immune function and decreases the amount of muscle breakdown.  Protein has a slower absorption rate than carbohydrate and will help build muscle.  Be sure to eat a small amount of protein along with carbohydrate and fat at each meal and snack to maximize muscle building and repair.

Since fats can cause discomfort and possibly impair performance, choose dietary fat at meals and snacks further away from training and performance or competition.  Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as avocado, nuts and nut butters, and olive, canola, or avocado oils.  Omega -3 and omega-6 fats from fish are also good choices.

During training sessions of two hours or longer, drink 16-20 oz. sports drink or water and a few pretzels or crackers.  Fifteen minutes following your training session, eat a protein bar or a protein shake or a snack with equivalent protein and carbohydrate similar to the sample AM/PM snack above.  Drink at least 64 oz. of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAShantha M. Wilson, R.D. received a B.S. in Clinical Dietetics from Brigham Young University.  She has worked as a dietary director for Sunrise Healthcare Corporation.  She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and is in private practice.  Shantha offers consultations and classes for dance studio patrons to make life easier and healthier.  She participated in dance and cheerleading in her youth and competed in ballroom dance during college.  Shantha resides in Arizona with her husband and three children and works as a freelance contributing editor.  She also started ShOvation Online Ticketing which is another service offered to make life easier for dance studio owners and their families.  Contact:  shanthawilson@cptg.com.  This content is copyrighted and used by National Dance Week with permission.



A NDWF’s cookbook receipe

Wish Come True

Enjoy this wonderful appetizer from A Wish Come True

Spicy Shrimp and Crab Bruschetta

6 servings

¼ bottled clam juice

6 ounces uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 ounces crabmeat, drained

½ baguette, cut diagonally into 1/3 inch thick slices

3 tablespoons olive oil

Bring clam juice to boil in medium saucepan. Add shrimp; reduce heat to medium, cover and cook just until shrimp are opaque in center, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon transfer shrimp to cutting board; cool. Coarsely chop shrimp.

Mix sliced green onions, mayonnaise, lemon juice, paprika and cayenne in medium bowl. Mix shrimp and crabmeat. Season with salt and pepper (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 375. Bush both sides of baguette slices lightly with oil; arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Bake until bread is golden, about 10 minutes. Cool. Mound shrimp mixture atop bread. Place on platter and serve.


Let’s help dancers follow their dreams and discover their future by Susan Epstein NDWF Board Member and owner West Park Productions

SMU, Meadows School of the Arts Division of Dance.  Sharen Bradford.

SMU, Meadows School of the Arts Division of Dance. Sharen Bradford.

About a year ago a colleague of mine sent me an e-mail from a distraught parent.  It seems his daughter, we’ll call her Kelly, wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree in dance. With misguidance from high school counselors or her parents or dance teachers, Kelly chose a large state school that had a dance department with a good reputation.  In her first year there she discovered that there were not many opportunities for undergraduates as the dancers in the graduate program were given the performing and choreographing slots first.  So Kelly transferred to a smaller college where she had many more chances to perform and choreograph.

In her junior year her parents came to see an adjudication concert.  Instead of being thrilled with their daughter’s performance, they said “to our eyes, she not only has not grown as an artist, but also seems to have taken a bit of a step back.  Watching the other dancers, we saw what looked like a real lack of fundamentals.  Our concern now is that the standards there are not high enough to give her a decent chance of a career in the field.”

And they had questions – Was it too late for the daughter to have a career? Was there another school for her to go to? Should she pursue a Master’s degree?

I only wish this was an isolated occurrence. I have heard of similar situations time and time again.  Of course there are many different answers to the parents questions, but my thoughts are how did this happen?  Why weren’t the parents and the dancer better informed to make more intelligent choices to begin with? Are the parent’s expectations the same as the dancers? What kind of dance career did Kelly want? What were the other factors like school size and location that entered into her choices?

Choosing the right dance program can be a painful process, but dance college and career information IS out there.  The problem is the information is so fragmented it’s difficult to navigate. Add that to the many misconceptions about dance as a career, not just a hobby, and it spells confusion and missed opportunities.

And I am not the only one to see that we need to make a sea change and help educate parents, school counselors, dance teachers and dancers about the wonderful choices there are for every dancer so that they are able to keep dance in their lives, forever. Many dance organization/institutions are now hosting college days to bring together students and program.  Just google dance college fairs and you’ll get a short list of events.

The Dance College Guide published by Dance Media is also a terrific resource.  It lists over 651 colleges and describes their programs in detail.   http://www.dancemagazine.com/collegesearch. The sister website Dance U101 has a library of articles related to the subject.   hhttp://www.danceu101.com/

But most of all: do your homework – ask yourself the hard questions- and take the time to match your dreams with your future.


Dancers Kick Bullying to the Curb By Sue Gordon NDWF Secretary and Algy Costume Company

You don’t have to be a Super Hero to fight injustice. Every day we have the opportunity to make our world a little better. As dancers we are always trying to grow and improve. We Sue's bully imagewant to be better in class and on the stage. We recognize the importance of our teachers and student leaders.  We recognize their greatness even as we strive for some of our own. But we have the power to be great and to stand up for others who may not be able to stand up for themselves. Dancers everywhere are participating in NDWF’s Kick it for Kindness campaign. It’s a fun and easy way to increase awareness about the hurtful nature of bullying. By sharing your personal story about bullying or something you’ve learned in school or online, you are helping others. Community involvement is a big step in ending this hateful act, which can often have longtime consequences. Victims of bullying can experience low self-esteem, difficulty trusting, isolation and anger. It’s hard to get actual statistics on the number of people who have experiences bullying, because so many cases go unreported. But most of us will experience some type of bullying. I encourage you to get together with your dance class or team and record a message on why bullying is hurtful. They do some high kicks and kick that bullying to the curb! I’ll be checking out our youtube channel, to see the latest posts.

Sue Gordon


Proud Sponsor of Kick for Kindness


“Stop Comparing Yourself to Others”


Agnes DeMille

No matter how much things change is how much things stay the same.  This is a great article that is encouraging to us all….plus a bit of history

“Martha Graham on the Hidden Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others” by James Clear



How to Celebrate National Dance Week at Your Studio by Maureen Gelchion NDWF Representative and Owner Astoria Dance Centre, Queens NY

ndw - headerHow to Celebrate National Dance Week at Your Studio

You love dance, you know its benefits and you want others to share in your joy. 23 years ago I thought NDW is the perfect way to share my joy.  The hard part for me was to get everyone else on board. I was quite surprised to find out how many dancers and teachers were not even aware that National Dance Week existed.  I first remember reading about it in one of the trade magazines back in the late 80’s and quite possibly hearing about it at one of the first UDMA’s at the Millennium Hotel in NYC.


That what’s we do, right?  So why not about National Dance Week.  I decided to educate within my own studio and celebrate.

How it all began:  A big sign stating that it was National Dance Week, balloons and borrow a book about dance table set up in our waiting area.  All the books were lent by faculty and myself.  Next year the same as above plus an Annual Student Choreography Showcase in honor of NDW flyer distributed to students and faculty.  I am proud to say that we have just celebrated our 23rd Annual Student Choreography Showcase which is always held during NDW.  Much to my surprise I have had several young students who are now brilliant choreographers one of which majored in choreography at SUNY Purchase and the others are dance teachers. Students who don’t want to choreograph can sign up to be a dancer in a student piece, create the program cover or usher at our annual NDW event.  Other ideas to share the joy is to offer what dance means to me essay contest and a dance poster contest.

Getting your Faculty on Board

Brainstorm with your faculty. Once they hear about your love of dance ask them what they would like to do to help celebrate NDW within your studio.  You will be surprised at some of their suggestions.  One of my favorite ideas of theirs was to switch teachers for National Dance Week.  Collaborating and meeting with your faculty is a great way to spread your enthusiasm.

Getting your Community Involved

Connecting with a local dancewear store.  Propose a local merchant to donate a pair of dance shoes to a dancer and bring your dancer to the store, take a photo with the dance wear store owner and send it along with a press release to all of the local papers in your area.  Spread the word and share the joy.

Start small, share your enthusiasm and check the nationaldanceweek.org for other great ideas to celebrate National Dance Week

Maureen Gelchion

NDWF Representative

Owner Astoria Dance Centre, Queens NY


Dancing Through the Holidays by Anneliese Wilson ABC For Dance and NDWF Vice Chair

Holidays are stressful times for many people.  Very often those in the dance industry find them even more stressful due to the pressures of family, work, holiday performances, disrupted routines and parties and celebrations.  Whether you are a dancer, teacher, studio owner, parent or just someone who enjoys the art of dance, there are some techniques you can incorporate to help you dance your way through the season.

  1. Create a special holiday season calendar
    1. Write any “must do at a specific day/time” events in permanent marker
    2. Write any “would like to do, but can be flexible about” events in pencil
    3. Allow yourself to adjust the pencil events as needed without guilt or stress
    4. If you notice overlapping must do events, start to plan how to delegate now
  2. Use this time to network with people who can compliment your skills and relieve pressure off of you
    1. If you are a studio owner or company director, bring in a special speaker or presenter for your group, instead of doing individual gifts some ideas might be –
      1. A nutritionist or dietician who can provide information on healthy eating
      2. A pilates, yoga, body rolling or gyrokinesis instructor to teach a workshop on self care for dancers
  • A makeup artist to help your dancers create special looks for stage or a fun night out
  1. A hair stylist to teach updos to your dancers
  1. Dancers treat yourself to a service that will help you to stay healthy and uninjured
    1. A bodywork session to relieve muscular strain or help balance overuse of certain muscles
    2. A personal training, pilates, yoga, gyrotonics or kinesis session to cross train
  • Some prepared healthy meal choices to keep fueled well while in performance mode
  1. Take care of yourself
    1. Eat healthy foods and carry healthy snacks with you so you aren’t caught in a pinch
    2. Stay hydrated
    3. Sleep
    4. Get some physical activity every day – even if it’s not dance

My Story by Nancy Stone – NDWF Chairman and Art Stone the Competitor

A long time member and supporter of National Dance Week, I was asked, in 2002 to be NDWF logothe National Spokesperson for NDW—what an honor!  So many things have happened to in the past 12 years. Our recognition nationwide has grown by leaps and bounds.  We have increased our delegates and more events are taking place than ever before.  We became a 501c3 in 2011 and appointed our first board of directors. We have launched several national projects that have been very successful.  Our DANCE MOB movement, now in its third year, had more dancers than ever before and ourKICK IT FOR KINDNESS anti bullying campaign is going into the second year with more celebrations planed.  We have once again started our poster and essay contest.  Our celebrations that take place during NDW have grown in size and in number of events.  Our long time National Director, Patti Goulding retired due to poor health and we passed that torch on to our present National Director, Cathy Graziano.  NDWF is execited about our growth and our success—we see a bright and shining future ahead.

Nancy Stone

Chairman of the Board



Giving Back – Drea’s Dream

It was my privilege to have the opportunity to spend some time with Susan Rizzo at the Dance Life Teacher Conference in Scottsdale AZ.  I would like to introduce to everyone who already doesn’t know her – the foundation she created in the memory of her daughter.  The Andréa Rizzo Foundation raises funds to help children with cancer and special needs, fostering Andréa’s dreams of providing dance therapy to children with cancer and special education needs. A non-profit corporation, the Foundation is dedicated to the growth and success of Dréa’s Dream, a dance therapy/expressive movement program for pediatric and young adult populations in hospitals, special education classrooms and medical settings throughout the country. Please take the time to learn more about them. – www.dreasdream.org

Rhee's picture

2013 DanceLife Studio Conference – Scottsdale AZ

We are actually sitting next to one another in the picture.  It was a wonderful conference and I am looking forward to it again in 2015.