Ballet Shoe Review: Body Wrappers A45 “Wendy”

Dancers are always looking for a reliable ballet shoes that will show clean lines and provides optimum comfort. The Body Wrappers A45 Wendy is a good start and tries to incorporate a lot of good new ideas, but overall it missed the mark for me.

The last, constructed of what they called TotalStretch canvas, was not as supple and comfortable to me as I had hoped but instead seemed just average. Which is fine, but I’m not sure why they marketed it as special. They say that it “supports and protects muscles.” While they did line it with a thin foam, I wish they provided info on what they are basing that claim on. They also claim to be antibacterial, which I do really like and I’m guessing was achieved by incoporating a chemical treatment to the fabric.

The last is curved for a right and left fit. The peachy pink color matched BW’s theatrical pink tights pretty well. It’s a prettier color than a lot of other brands have created. I liked how that extended the line, but they were still too light a pink to keep from looking gray after a few classes got them dirty.

I found the elastic drawstring to be a bit too thin, made thinner by its own stretchiness. I am not a fan of elastic drawstrings because they never seem strong enough to actually do anything. (Not that I love cotton either, considering that they offer almost no give – can’t we have a happy medium?) The problem was the same here. I did like the “lingerie elastic” binding and found that part really soft and pretty – it has a hint of shimmer to it. It did get a little fuzzy and frayed in the course of normal use.

My main gripe with these shoes had nothing to do with these superficial issues though and everything to do with the foam-padded heel. I love a shoe that incorporates impact absorption, but this heel pad was a huge impediment to proper fit of the shoe. It seems that BW did not calculate properly for the additional fabric at the heel that would be needed to include the heel pad, so the heel sat about an eighth of an inch below where is should – perfectly placed to irritate the Achilles tendons as much as possible and cause the shoe to come off the heel during jumps. This is just a terrible construction issue. What are the two main things a shoe must do? Stay on the foot and allow proper movement. Because of the poorly thought-out construction of this shoe, it could do neither. Tightening the drawstring only worsened the irritation and loosening the drawstring at all meant the shoe would pop off even more easily. Ironically, the packaging instructs that the shoes fit so well that most dancers won’t even need elastics.

All of this said, if you are a dancer who needs a lower heel – and I know there are plenty of you out there! – this might be the ideal shoe for you. Body Wrappers certainly had some great ideas, and I look forward to checking out their next try. I will continue to post reviews of the many shoes I have worn. Have you tried the Body Wrappers A45 Wendy shoe? What did you think?

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Dancewear en l’air: The Sleek Samurai Leotard

In the immortal words of Miss Piggy, “Hiya!” Yes, whether sheerly for clever marketing or from genuine inspiration, Bloch has created what they call the Samurai leotard, model L2042. But a cool name is not the only thing to like about this ensemble.

Constructed from a “microlux” blend,  the smooth surface is shaped into a curvy silhouette with wide-set and very short cap sleeves. A perfectly placed U back finishes the cut, mimicked by an open metal ring set into the left side of the wide neckline. Placement of the ring creates subtle ruching and a modern, slashed V-neck.

Available in red, black and two pastels, I’d opt for red or black to support the edgy feel of this leo. I’d pair that with black footless tights and a high bun for a look that says… HIYA!

Dear CBT: Does No Scholarship Now = No Contract Later?

If a student is accepted into the last two years of a selective company school without a scholarship, is she less likely than those who did get scholarships to be considered for the company? Is it more likely that she will mostly serve to benefit the school as a paying student? Or will she be considered to have equal potential for entrance into the company or second company?

I have been warned that only scholarship recipients move up into the company past graduation from these prestigious schools and have noted that most biographies of company dancers list their scholarship wins. My daughter was not present for the summer session that would have made her eligible for a scholarship. She was offered a scholarship for two consecutive years at another program but did not attend.

How important are acquiring scholarships and making it to the YAGP finals for determining whether a company will seriously consider a student at their school for their company? If these accolades are not in place, will the student be overlooked for advancement, no matter how hard she tries??

Thanks,

– Concerned Mom of a Determined Dancer

Dear Concerned Mom,

The short answer is: No, going to a company school without a scholarship or competition placement does not generally affect a student’s chances for employment overall. And here’s the longer answer! –

Scholarships are only one indicator of a school’s interest in developing a student and their belief in her potential at that specific point in time. We cannot extrapolate that out to years in advance because future events depend on the student’s continued development. Students who are expected to do great things will sometimes disappoint, and students who seem average sometimes work their tails off and take the lead. While many pros list scholarships, many do not. Finally, artistic direction can change in a heartbeat, leaving former favorites looking elsewhere for jobs.

YAGP and the various IBCs are a subject onto themselves. There is an endless amount of debate on their worth. Suffice it to say that they are one method that is great for particular types of dancers in particular situations (Vague enough for you? I’ll do a post on sometime to explain.), but a huge segment of the professionals did not participate in those competitions during their training.

Accolades like these indicate how the student performed during a snapshot in time. Certainly, those that succeed habitually tend to continue to succeed – that is why you see so many pros with such records. But these are not prerequisites to a good career, just indicators of possible career potential. Scholarship or YAGP placement or not, a dancer must continue to work hard, show her worth and improve. At the conclusion of training, the directors will decide whether the dancer should enter the company based on her capabilities at that time. I have cautioned people before that scholarships are great indicators of a school’s enhanced interest and the projected potential of a student at a particular moment in time – but they are far from a guarantee of anything. The same goes for the your situation. Getting into a top school without a scholarship (which is great on its own, by the way, and still show interest), is a valuable opportunity.

Not getting a scholarship has no bearing on whether a dancer will be accepted into the company. Grimly perhaps, all students are facing those slim odds from an equal standing. What matters at the end of the training road is: Is the dancer fully prepared to give the current artistic director what the AD wants and needs in a performer at the same time that a contract spot is available?