Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pointe Shoe Questions Answered and 24 Pointe Shoe Videos (Fittings and Tips)

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We asked you for some pointe shoe questions on Facebook and Instagram a while back and here are the answers from Josephine Lee . Josephine owns and operates Dancer's Choice Irvine and The Pointe Shop. She is passionate about helping dancers find their "perfect shoe". Be sure to visit her blog at .

Q: I have a student who has been losing toenails from her pointe shoes. One brand caused her pinkie toenails to fall off and one brand cause her big toenails to fall off. What would cause this and what should we look for in her next fitting. Thank you!
Nicole Madden with Springs Dance in Colorado Springs, CO. 

Josephine: Ouch! This is a very common injury. The most common cause for bruised toe nails is an ill-fitting box. If the box is too tapered for her feet, it can cause the pinky toe nail to bruise. If the box is too wide or too broad at the platform, she can bruise her big toe nail. The best thing to look for at your next fitting is the shape of the box. Make sure it matches the shape of her feet.

Q; What shoes are best for low arches?
Linzi Glitter

Josephine: Low arches can be frustrating, but you can find pointe shoes that can assist you. Look for a softer shank and a pre-arched model.  This can help you get over your platform and help you articulate your feet a bit easier. Make sure the softer, pre-arched model will still be able to support you en pointe. If it is too soft, it can be wobbly! 

Q: I have high arches and wide feet too and I have been wearing Gaynors (with a hard shank), although I would like to know how long they should last me because I feel mine are dying super quick... Hannah Nicole (Lovehannahnicole)
Josephine: Lucky you! High arches are a gift, but the price you pay is… well… pricey. Gaynor Mindens are the longest lasting shoe on the market, so you are on the right track. It will be difficult to find anything that will last longer. However, you can do a couple different things: high arch and a flexible feet tend to be a bit weaker (not always, but often). If you can strengthen your feet with lots of barre and theraband exercises, you will be able to support yourself with your feet muscles rather than relying too heavily on your pointe shoes. This way you can make pointe shoes last longer. The second option is to special order your pointe shoes. Gaynor Minden offers a double shank option. This will take a bit longer to make, but it will be worth it!

Q: How can you figure out what kind of platform you need, and how tapered you need your boxes? Balletpeace

Josephine: The size of the platform is generally dependent on the shape of your toes. If you have wider toes, you can wear a wider platform, if you have tapered toes, you usually need a tapered box. How well you balance, how compressive your feet are and what kind of toe pads you wear may also contribute to this question. The best way to find out is to try on and experiment with different shoes. 

Q: How can you fix your pointe shoe from coming off of your foot and how can you figure out what platform that you will need and how tapered you need your boxes? livi.drane

Josephine: It is probably the most annoying thing to have your heels slip off during dance class or worse, during a performance. This is a common yet difficult problem to solve. However, there are a few tricks that may help you. 1. Wear stirrup tights. When your heel is exposed, the shoe grips on to the skin much better than tights. 2. Rub rosin on the back of your tights. This will also have more friction to help keep the heels up. 3. Wear tighter shoes. This may be a bit uncomfortable, but typically if the shoes fit tighter, it stays up a little easier. 

Q: What is the best brand for beginners and how do you choose? Demmerpinkbritain

Josephine: There is really no such thing as “beginner” shoes (unless we are talking about demi-pointe shoes). Each brand and model can be worn by beginners to professionals. Beginners tend to wear shoes that are softer so they can articulate at the barre, but once they go into the center, they need the extra support. The type of shoes you wear all depends on what kind of feet you have and what you need help on. 

Q: I just got my first pointe shoes, any suggestions on how to break them in or sew them? Tessa_yuzda

Josephine: I would stay away from modifying your first pair of pointe shoes too much. It is OK to gently bend the shoe at the arch or softly press down on the box if you need a little bit more comfort, but a well-fitted shoe should be fairly comfortable. For your first few years en pointe, you should just allow your feet to naturally break in the shoes. Over the years, you will learn what you specifically need to modify and make your shoes feel best. Modifying shoes can shorten the lifespan of a pointe shoe so be careful when you start. Pointe shoes are highly individual. You will learn your own preferences on how to break them in and where to sew on the ribbons and elastic throughout your dance career. It is definitely a journey. Enjoy it :) 

Q: How to properly jet glue almost dead pointe shoes? Mia__andrea

Josephine: The best time to jet glue your pointe shoes is actually before you start to wear them. It gives the shoes the support you need and breaks the shoes down slower. As the shoe breaks down more, you want to add a little more at a time. When you jet glue a dead pair of pointe shoes, it gets into the cracks and it doesn’t do much to harden them. 

Q: How do you know when your shoes are dead?

Josephine: Pointe shoes die in different ways depending on the dancer and the type of shoes. When the shoes start to die, they may pull the dancer back, push them over or feel like they’re sinking. The shoes may also break in different places, such as the box or the shank. When the shoe starts to die, they will no longer support the dancer’s feet and ankles and will feel unstable.

Q: I have high arches but my shoes are never flexible enough to show them. What shoes are good for high arches and wide feet? Cocaboba

Josephine: If you have high arches but feel like your shoes don’t show them off, your feet are most likely bending in your pointe shoes without bending the shoes. The best way to show them off is a ¾ shank. This will allow you enough support in the metatarsal but will bend where your feet arch so you can show off those pretty feet. If you’re wide, try a Suffolk Spotlight. They have wider options as well as a ¾ shank ☺

How to 3/4 shank your pointe shoes

Check out some pointe shoe fittings on my youtube channel (12 videos) - xo Robbie

Bonus - 12 videos with pointe shoe tips from MyDanceTv

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Prix de Lausanne 2016 Live Stream Compilation and Winners plus Diana Vishneva Flashback

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 Live Stream Day 1 Feb 1

Live Stream Day 2  Feb 2

Live Stream Day 3 Feb 3


 Live Stream Day 4 Feb 4

Finals Live Stream Day 5 Feb 5

Spoiler alert winners are below these two videos of Diana Vishneva at Prix de Luasanne! 

1994 Coppelia: Swanilda

1994 Carmen

Fast forward to 2013

Prix de Lausanne WINNERS 2016
Hang Yu Age 16 China (Shanghai Dance School)
Video from May 2014 - will post Prix videos when available. 

Madison Young Age 17 USA (Houston Ballet Academy). The only USA candidate to advance to finals!

copyright Houston Chronicle

Vincenzo Di Primo Age 18  - Italy (Vienna State Opera) Awarded Contemporary Dance Prize
Video from June 26, 2014  - will post Prix videos when available.

Leroy Mokgatle Age 16 South Africa (Art of Motion South Africa)
Awarded audience favorite. 
Video from Cape Town 2014 - will post Prix videos when available.

Laura Fernandez Age 18 -Switzerland- Best Swiss Candidate and Contemporary Dance Prize  (TAZ Tanzakademie Zurich/Vaganova Ballet Academy St Petersburg)

Junnosuke Nakamura Age 16 Japan (Acri-Horimoto Ballet Academy)

Dingkai Bai Age 16 China (Shanghai Dance School)

Prix Jeune Espoir

Danbi Kim Age 15 South Korea (LeeWon-A Dance Academy)
Video 2015 Seoul - Junior Ballet 1st Place

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Monday, February 1, 2016

All Things Tutu for Tutu Tuesday on 2/2!

Instagrammers:   If you are on Instagram hashtag your favorite tutu photo of you or anyone #balletfreaktutu and tag @balletfreak (do both) and I will pick a winner from each platform and give them a shout out on my Ballet Freak Instagram Wednesday (Over 28k followers).

Tutu worn by Margot Fonteyn in Swan Lake , 1964

Happy Tutu Day!!! A whole day dedicated to all of the incredibly beautiful tutus throughout the ballet world. From romantic tutus in Giselle to pancake tutus in Swan Lake, they are one of the major things that makes a ballerina a ballerina.

I personally love the tutus that are slightly droopy, such as the ones from LeCorsaire. I also love love love the red Kitri tutu. It's impossible to choose a favorite. 

My friend Juliette Bosco (Ellison Ballet) in her Kitri tutu. 

Svetlana looking stunning, as usual, in her Kitri tutu. 

 The amount of hours of detail and work that's goes into making a tutu so stunning is incredible. It can take take up to several weeks to complete a tutu and can possibly cost up to thousands of dollars to create. It really depends on the role, ballet, and the company. 
Pharaoh's Daughter tutu. 

Tutus originally started very low to the ground, like romantic tutus. In the 16th century, skirts were brought above the ankle, which was a shock to most people back then! They were originally created shorter to work on footwork. Marie Camargo (Paris Opera Ballet 1726) was known for making the above the ankle skirt more well known.

In 1832 the first romantic tutu to be worn on stage was worn by Marie Taglioni in the production of La Sylphide. This was performed at the Paris Opera. 

In the 19th century, Italian dancers began wearing shorter skirts that came just below the knee, more like romantic tutus. It eventually evolved into the pancake tutu which shows off the whole leg. 

In the pancake tutu everything is seen! All of your technique is shown, which is kind of nerve racking, but it can create such beauty when done and worked with correctly. 

The first time I wore a tutu it kind of threw me off a bit. Obviously it adds a different weight to your dancing in pirouettes and jumps. You are to change the movements of your port de bras slightly due to the placement of the tutu. 

Romantic tutus were created to give the illusion of lightness and a floating sensation. You will see these tutus in the ballet Giselle and Chopiniana. 

Photos from Het National Ballet. 

Could the tutu die out? Apparently there is a shortage of costume makers! Stitchers work behind the scenes and often go with out much credit.  “A good opera house seamstress has the same skills as a surgeon, it’s just that she’s lower-paid.” Opera Philadelphia’s costume director Millie Hiibel . Hopefully someone reading this blog is the next Karinska or Miro. We need you!

 Costume for Ballet Imperial, 1964. Via New York City Ballet by Barbara Karinska

Costumes de Barbara Karinska – Coppélia (acte 2), Coppélia (acte 1)

Couture Tutu! This costume was sold by the New York City Ballet. (c) NYCB

Joan Miro (1895-1983) - La couleur des rêves

Karinska Ballett-Tutu 10413

Ballet:Sleeping Beauty Rudolf Nureyev after Marius Petipa CHOREOGRAPHER: Rudolf Nureyev after Marius Petipa DESIGNER: COSTUMER: Nicholas Georgiadis PRODUCTION DATE: 1989 PRODUCED IN: Opera / Garnier, Paris Opera National de Par: Elisabeth Maurin. 

Flowers II © Anne Deniau. Paris Opera Ballet, Amandine Albisson in "La Sylphide” rehearsal

Thanks for reading and Happy TuTu Tuesday on 2/2 !