Posts Tagged ‘pointe’

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.

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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?

Nutcracker Memories

December 9, 2010

I haven’t posted an entry in a while, since I’ve been busy reading a very interesting book, “Nutcracker Nation” , to prepare for a special class at the National Museum of Dance. The book went into an in-depth discussion of how The Nutcracker became an annual holiday tradition.

It’s hard to believe that the first performances in 1892 were not well-received. Especially since almost every company in the USA performs the show annually.  In fact, most companies have to perform it to be able to survive financially. George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet (NYCB) played a huge role in helping to make the ballet accepted in this country. Balanchine incorporated ‘holidays with the family’ into his version and the NYCB performances were broadcast on live TV in 1957 and 1958. This brought it right into the homes of Americans.

While reading the book, it made me think of my childhood years when I performed in the Nutcracker with my hometown ballet company.  It brought back lots of wonderful memories. For anyone that has performed in the show or helped behind the scenes, I’m sure that you would agree that it is a very special time. I remember my dad helped out backstage and my mom assisted with ticket sales and costumes. And they would both attend the many performances.

All this reminiscing makes me want to perform in Nutcracker again. It’s too late this year as most companies are about to perform or have already finished.  At this age, I would probably be cast as an adult in the party scene of Act I.  That would be fine……. I’ve never played that role.  We’ll see.

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)