Extreme Performance

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Altitude. If you're not accustomed to it, altitude can be difficult to deal with. You can experience a wide range of symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, earaches, difficulty sleeping, and loss of appetite. In severe cases, altitude sickness can even deadly.

In many regions, these symptoms are often accompanied by dehydration, which can have a severe negative impact on  among other things  your voice.

Now, that all sounds pretty unpleasant. But there are benefits, too  benefits so significant that world-class athletes flock to high altitudes (in places like Colorado Springs, Boulder, Flagstaff, Mexico City) for training.

In essence, living and working at high altitude can force your body to function better than it does at lower altitudes. Your body creates a mechanism for transporting oxygen more effectively, through increases in red blood cells, and it then processes that oxygen more efficiently.

(Unfortunately, our bodies can't store up oxygen. Otherwise people with emphysema could tank up with a few good hits at the beginning of the day and not have to drag their tanks around with them. Oxygen tanks can relieve the immediate need for oxygen but they can't help you over the long haul.)

So what does all this mean to performing artists? What is a performer to do when required to work under such circumstances? While performing arts events like the Aspen Music Festival, the Santa Fe Opera, the Vail International Dance Festival provide unique experiences  for both audiences and performers alike  they also present unique challenges for performers.

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High Altitude Tips

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