The Barre is Your Friend!

Ah, the ubiquitious ballet barre. But is it really needed for developing good technique? Why don’t other forms of dance use a barre? Where on earth did it come from?

As you know from this site, ballet originated from court dances that look almost nothing like the ballet technique of today. And as that dancing evolved, steps got more difficult and more balance was required for them. Eventually, dance teachers had their students hold on to the backs of chairs while learning the tough steps, and so the ballet barre was born. It’s hard to imagine ballet without it now – imagine beginner pointe in the center! Continue reading

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Technical Tricks of the Trade: Advice from an Amateur (via You Dance Funny, So Does Me)

How about some technical tricks and tips today, kiddos? Here is an excellent (and funny) article with a by a male dancer and amateur dance historian with a concise list of some of the best quick technique tips!

You’d be surprised what you can learn from a set of new eyes, even when they may not be the most experienced.  The fact that people read this blog has given me an inflated sense of ego, and I feel impudent enough to offer some advice when it comes to taking class.  I believe that our flaws shape our perceptions, and as someone with bad feet, bad turnout and no natural flexibility, I’m always looking at how people use such things.  One of the teac … Read More

via You Dance Funny, So Does Me

Dancewear en l’air: The New Princess-Seamed Camisole

Sleek and sophisticated is what I think when I look at the construction of Bloch’s L2750. This style gives homage to classic shape through flattering empire and princess seams, but brings it to 2010 with updated fabric and a modern cool-toned Steel version. The straps are camisole style, but not too thin that they’ll dig into your shoulders.

This piece is great for class, rehearsal or even a leotard performance. Just add dance shoes.

Pretty Pointe Shoes, We Hardly Knew Ye!

Peachy pink satin pointe shoes … so beautiful! But they don’t stay that way for long do they? No, after a few hours worth of barre, your pointe shoes will be broken-in and start showing small signs of wear. That perfect amount of break-in only last so long before they start getting too soft and worn down.

If you are taking multiple pointe classes a week, your shoes could even be all used up in a week or even less! If you are still early in your pointe training, your shoes will last much longer – you may even grow out of them before they have a chance to get totally “dead” – but it’s still important to know how to look for signs of too much wear.

The reason that pointe shoes are unfit for wear at a cetain point is that they stop supporting the foot. That will put unnecessary strain and stress on the joints, muscles and connective tissues of your feet. Your pointe shoes are unfit for wear when they offer only minimal resistance in roll-through releve, when they stop supporting the arch and certainly when they allow the metatarsal to pop out of the throat of the shoe.

Some dancers prefer to keep their dead shoes for demi-pointe use during non-pointe ballet classes. This can help a dancer continue to become comfortable in a pointe shoes. Personally, I prefer a real soft shoe for ballet technique classes, but some might find the dead pointe shoes useful for training. Plus, they don’t have to buy soft shoes anymore.

Before storing your “dead” pointe shoes or giving them away as gifts, take some time to analyze how they broke-in. Did the shank break or break-down much more quickly than the box? You may need a stronger shank or possibly a higher vamp. Did the box break down before you got the shank broken-in? You might need a softer shank or even a lower vamp. Take note of how the features of the shoe worked for you throughout your working in them. Make a list of good and bad things you noticed about the break-in and bring it and the shoe’s brand and style name with you when you go for your next fitting. This information is invaluable in deciding whether you should move to a different brand or style or if you are having technique issues that need to be straightened out. Ask your teacher for help if you’re not sure how to make these observations.

Pointe shoes are expensive and breaking in new ones can be no fun, but your health and safety are paramount! Learn to recognize when your pointe shoes are beyond safe use and when it’s time to get re-fitted and buy new ones.

Dancewear en l’air: The Pro Pad by Ouch Pouch

Toe pads are essential for most pointe students, but some can be bulky and prevent articulation. The Pro Pad by Ouch Pouch is an excellent alternative to traditional pads because it features gel padding only on the top of the pad to protect the toe joints from friction and pressure. The bottom of the pad is fabric only to allow real connection to the shoe and floor.

Fits Like a Glove – For Your Foot! – Part 2

Once you’ve found the best pointe shoe combinations of box, width, vamp and shank, try the remaining shoe or shoes with cushioning. I do not recommend loose lambs wool, paper towels or newspaper. There are so many much better options available these days!

Cushions should enhance comfort and fine-tune the fit; they should not be used to compensate for a sloppy fit! Use as little cushioning as possible. Many dancers who wear no pads find they need at least one of the oval or mushroom cushions. If these are not sufficient, use additional cushions. It is also possible that a narrower box or a box liner is needed to prevent the foot from dropping in too much. If the length and width are correct but there is pain or pressure on the toe(s), more cushions may be needed. Here are some options: Continue reading