Archive for the ‘Pointe’ Category

What is the Breaking Pointe?

May 30, 2012

I’m not a big fan of reality television shows, but I have high hopes for the new ballet show, “Breaking Pointe”.

This new show follows Salt Lake City’s Ballet West (BW) company dancers. Supposedly it will set the record straight about the real behind the scenes work of dance and will erase misconceptions created by the movie “Black Swan”. The BW Artistic Director, Adam Sklute, is a creative consultant for the show and plans to make sure that this is the case.

I hope that there will be lots of dance and that the show will foster an appreciation of ballet. We’ll see tomorrow night when the show premieres on the CW (May 31st).

If you watch it, share your impression of the show.


New Dance Movie to Open

May 10, 2012

I’m excited about a new ballet movie, “First Position“, that opens on May 11, 2012.  I’m not sure if it will be as popular as “Black Swan” was, since this new movie is a documentary.

“First Position”, directed by Bess Kargman, follows six young dancers as they prepare and then compete in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP). The YAGP is the world’s largest student ballet competition that provides scholarships to leading dance schools worldwide. This prestigious competition is held annually around the world and in New York City.

I had the opportunity to view a couple of stories about the movie on Good Morning America and Nightline. The dancing looks out of this world! And the reviews are remarkable.

For those of you that are in the Capital District/Saratoga NY area, there will be a screening at the Saratoga Film Forum on Sunday, June 24, 2012, 7:30 pm, as part of the Film Festival of Dance (some other great dance films will also be shown during the four day festival). I can’t wait to attend this screening in June!

Book of Foot Strengthening Exercises

October 18, 2011

The Perfect Pointe Book , by Lisa Howell, has many excellent foot strengthening exercises. Included with the book are video clips of students who demonstrate the exercises.

As you can guess by the title, it is geared towards dancers who are preparing to go on pointe for the first time. However, the exercises are great for any dancer or athlete. We don’t always think of strengthening the feet, but it is important.

All my younger dancers that are preparing for pointe work or who are already studying pointe do these strengthening exercises. I also incorporate them into my Balletone classes, which is a barefoot workout.

Do you exercise your feet?

Tips for Tying Pointe Shoe Ribbons

January 6, 2011

There are many different ways to tie pointe shoes. I’m not sure if the ‘one ribbon at a time” or ‘both together’ is the best method. I do know that the following tips should be followed:

  • Ribbons must be tight enough to hold shoe on and provide support.
  • Ribbons must also be tied tight enough so that there is no gap when the dancer is on flat.
  • Tie the knot right in back of the ankle bone, but not all the way in back of the foot.
  • Ribbons must be tucked in securely, so that they do not hang out.
  • Tie ribbons as close to the ankle as possible. They should not go high up on the leg.
  • Use elastics on the back of the shoe to help keep the shoe on the foot.


Here are links to two excellent videos that show you how to properly tie the pointe shoe ribbons:

Lisa Howell, who has an excellent book and blog on pointe shoe training has a video about tying pointe shoes at

The Aneheim Ballet also has a good video that show two different methods for tying point shoes at It also includes some other pointers.

Let me know if these tips helped. And I’m also curious about which method you use to tie your pointe shoes.

So Many Pointe Shoes to Choose From!

October 28, 2010

I was surprised to see over 15 types of pointe shoes explained in an article in the June/July 2010 issue of Pointe magazine. And there are even more types than those mentioned in the article!. I only remember having the choice of three different types of pointe shoes when I was a young dancer.  None of them suited my narrow, low-arched foot, so I had to settle for a pair.

Now that there are all these options, dancers should take the time to try on different shoes.  An experienced fitter will help you find the shoe that is appropriate for your foot type, toe length, and arch. Expect the fitting to take at least an hour. When trying on the shoes, the dancer should see how the foot feels when in full releve. In addition, it’s also helpful to try a demi plie in second position since the foot needs additional room for plie. The fitter will also want to see how the shoe reacts when the dancer performs a releve to demi pointe.

The shoe that is selected at the first fitting may not continue be the “perfect shoe” throughout a dancer’s career. Feet change due to growth, technique, and injuries. And along with that, the shoe manufacturers are continually producing new and improved types of pointe shoes. It’s a good idea to go for a fitting even after the feet have stopped growing.

When is a Dancer Ready for Pointework?

June 8, 2010

When I was studying dance as a child, there was a rule that students could not begin pointe work until they turned twelve. I remember that I could not wait and even had dreams that there was a medical reason that I had to start earlier.

After researching the question: When is the appropriate age to start pointe work, I found that it is alright to start before the age of twelve. In fact, age has nothing to do with being ready. It depends on how strong the student is and if they have proper placement when performing ballet steps.

This makes sense to me since children mature at different rates. Also, each body is unique. Some students are naturally more flexible and some are stronger. In addition, many dancers take multiple classes per week, are more focused, and may have studied for several years. Others take class on a recreational basis, so they are not as strong. So, age should not be the indicator of pointe work readiness.

And, it is fine for adults to do pointe work. Of course they must study ballet regularly and have proper alignment and technique.

Here are some of the books and articles that I used for my research:

The Pointe Book, Shoes Training & Technique

Perfect Pointe Book (strengthening exercises and tests to see if the student is ready for pointe work)

The Healthy Dancer, ABT Guidelines for Dancer Health

Too Old for Pointe? (Blog by Debra Vogel)