I’ve been part of a dance team for close to 3 years now (it would have been 4 but life decided I need a break) and the importance of eating well especially on and during rehearsal days, when preparing for a dance production, is important. Besides the fact that you use a lot of energy, one has to make sure the type of energy you have is sufficient.
The primary form of dance we do is contemporary. Which means you need a tight core and even tighter contracting, stretching and releasing abilities. Not the mention the energy you need to actually do the dancing!!
None of that can happen without proper (eating) preparation. Without making it complicated I always eat to make sure my metabolism is going. This means eating before you starve and listening to your body when you are hungry to avoid food being used for storage, and not energy.
Rehearsals lasts 2 hours normally, but in the 2 weeks before our production rehearsals is no less than 4 hours. Rehearsals also takes place after work so I eat my normal breakfast, snack, lunch and my afternoon snack is a bit more energy to sustain me during rehearsals. Making sure there is a starch and protein present is what I stick to. Keeping hydrated during the day is a must so I attempt to at least get 750ml water in daily and more (definitely), but not less.
I take eating my energy (Which is starchy foods) seriously because this food group literally gets digested into what gives you energy.
During rehearsals (after warm up and stretches) you need energy that is available immediately. Basically the opposite of what you would have for your main meals and snacks. a Starch will take long to digest and you need energy now; glucose form energy is what I go for, that which do not require any digestion and is readily available to be used.
This is where drinking glucose energy drinks will be good (and also to replace electrolytes); eating fresh fruit is also what I do especially an apple, banana or grapes and then peanuts is also a good high energy snack to have during rehearsals. Drinking water is important during rehearsals as well.
Moral of the story, keep it light during rehearsals and always hydrate!!
Things to remember
Your Body is not a machine. It does help to look at your eating habits daily to improve concentration and focusing ability during rehearsals.
Staying hydrated is equally as important. You might get away with skipping a meal during the day but skipping to drink water will catch up with you.
You don’t have to do everything at once. It took me 3 years to figure out what I needed to do and how to apply it properly. Remember this is just a guideline, finding your own ways of doing things is the ultimate goal.
The main aim is to make you aware that there is a relationship between Nutrition and dance and to always do what works for you.