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Clara 76

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    I am an ex-dancer, current teacher, and company shoe manager
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  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
  1. Just stumbled across this thread! Since I am a shoe mistress, I'd be happy to answer any questions people may have regarding pointe shoes. I can give you general figures though: Female dancers go through approximately 1 pair per week by alternating pairs and Jet Gluing, and one pair per performance unless it is a ballet such as Sleeping Beauty where the principals will indeed go through 1 pair per act! The reason for the increase in usage on stage has more to do with the hot lights and the adrenaline than anything else. If a shoe manager is doing their job correctly, then a dancer should not have to do a whole lot to a pair prior to wearing. Most dancers wear custom made shoes, so the shoe manager can make whatever adjustments are necessary to keep his or her dancer's feet healthy!
  2. Yes! You are correct, Nanarina! Freed bespoke pointe shoes, and any other company that does custom pointe shoes, are indeed created to each dancer's specifications. It depends upon the shoe mistress, but if she or he is also a fitting specialist, then the dancer needn't go to Freed or Gamba or Capezio, but simply sets up an appointment with their shoe person who will help them find what they need. If the shoe mistress/master isn't a fitting specialist, then a dancer would need to go to the source to have their shoes made. From there the shoes are all hand made by the maker chosen by the dancer, and delivered to the shoe mistress who does exactly as you described. Each pair are checked against the dancer's spec chart to ensure that no glaring mistakes were made in the creation process, then the shoes are taken care of and placed into each individual dancer's cubicle/drawer/shelf. Once they are in the dancer's hands, it is up to the dancer to take the proper steps to both preserve and prepare them for stage. :foot:
  3. Well, when dancers are fit properly in the correct shoes for them, they are much less likely to develop injuries that can be caused by pointe shoes (space-age or traditional), and will likely not experience the "pain" that people speak about. I know some professional dancers whose feet you would not think belong to dancers. I guess what I'm trying to say is that not all dancers experience pain and discomfort and injuries caused by pointe shoes. And because of the fact that traditional paste shoes can be made as quiet as space-age technology, plus they have the added benefit of the dancer being able to sense the floor, I think that both types of shoes will continue have a place in the market.
  4. Sorry sacto, but I think that boiling it down to a purists vs. supporters of the pointe shoe from Gaynor Minden is simplifying the issue. It is important for dancers to be wearing the proper pointe shoes for their feet, period. That means some dancers can wear Gaynors- many can't, just as some dancers can wear Russian shoes, some Capezio, etc. There are many factors to take into consideration when fitting pointe shoes, among them the shape, width, depth of the feet; the arch and instep height; the length of the toes; the ankle articulation; strength; rotation and ability to maintain it; how much the foot shrinks when pointed; whether their are any congenital factors to consider; spaces between toes; it goes on and on. There are also some downfalls with the 'new' shoes; weakening ankles, bunions, and an inability to sense the floor are some problems that are currently faced, however obviously not by every dancer who wears them. That is why they are currently a niche-market shoe. But aside from that, traditional pointe shoes do not have to be loud. It really is a matter of technique and preperation that will solve the noisiness problem.
  5. Wow! I haven't been over here in awhile! This topic certainly caught my interest!! A few things: 1. Professional ballet dancers may choose virtually any pointe shoe, for the most part. Many ADs won't care what you have on your feet as long as they are quiet!!!! To that end, point no. 2- 2. It is in many contracts here in the US that a dancer is responsible for keeping her shoes quiet for performances. And- 3. There is no such thing as a manufacturer's contract with an American ballet company where all dancer must wear their brand; that is one of those urban ballet myths. 4. Having said that, teachers sometimes are my worst enemy because they want "all their students in __". Usually it's because that's what they wore. That doesn't work because feet are as different as snowflakes! 5. Different brands of pointes are constructed using different methods. Some are quiet- some not. Freeds are notoriously quiet because they are made form natural flour-based paste. The newer-engineered glue shoes tend to be louder, HOWEVER, if a dancer is taking care of her shoes properly, she can both make them last longer and make her performance pairs quiet. 6. Technique has suffered in more recent years in favor of tricks over artistry. To that end, dancers haven't learned the subleties of foot articulation- they are too busy trying to use their knees as earrings, and trying to break the sound barrier by spinning. 7. Can the brand of shoes that a dancer chooses change her feet? Absolutely. That is why choosing a shoe that will conform to the dancer's feet is important; you don't want a shoe where the dancer's feet have to conform to the shoe. 8. There are space-age materials currently in use in several styles, and one brand of pointe shoes. They have their niche, but as stated above, the feet need to already be shaped like the shoe, or else, the dancer is in for a world of hurt. On top of that, these shoes typically lose a bit aesthetically. They are however, very quiet. In my opinion, Russian-made shoes are much, much harder than other brands. That combined with the different technique focus, can make a Russian corps louder. But I'm willing to overlook the noise in favor of the symmetry.
  6. I'm so happy to have found this thread... Tatiana was my ballet teacher in the 70s, and she is a wonderful lady. I am blessed to this day to have had her teach me the art of ballet through her eyes. She taught every class with the idea of performing in mind, so that you were given the technique that was required, but also an understanding to really dance every class. She is responsible for the artist in me. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of her dancing, but somewhere, I have a head shot of her from when she lead the company that was the precursor to BalletMet. I hope you enjoy her as much as I did.
  7. DefJef- I love your enthusiasm!! A question for you- do you have to 'think' about walking? Do you decide which foot you're going to lead off with, or whether you're going to take a step with your heel or your toes? Probably not, because walking has become what we call 'muscle-memory'...it just happens. When a dancer practices the choreography enough, it becomes muscle-memory to the dancer, who is then free to feel the movements, and allow their feelings to be expressed.
  8. I think it's a symptom of the greater economy. There have been so many industrial and commercial companies closing, laying off their employees, "outsourcing" and "downsizing". The real estate market is expected to hit a wall, and people everywhere are losing their homes because they can no longer afford their mortgages. Many corporations have gone to "Independent Contractors" for normal everyday jobs that used to be considered fulltime with benefits. Needless to say, it is a shame.
  9. Yes, they certainly are the exception. The problem is, most of the jobs out there for your average dancer are with companies that do both, so dancers have little choice if they want to work, unless of course, they are exceptional at either classical or contemporary. Then they can gravitate towards one of the top companies in either genre.
  10. This thread may be of interest: Forsythe
  11. Something quite different on top of solid classical training is definitely required. Many dancers study other forms of dance alongside ballet, like jazz, modern, Ailey technique, or perhaps African. That seems to give them a certain versatility that enables them to do all these 'foreign' movements. That along with training directly from the choreographers who run these companies.
  12. The vocabulary may be the same, but it's execution- apples to oranges. Forsythe works off the center, continually pushing dancer's bodies to do what can't be done. Or at least, it feels that way to the dancer! The movements would not look like classical ballet i.e., pink tights, tutu, tiara, pointe shoes, lovely turns, jumps, extensions, and balances with a handsome prince on hand. In Forsythe pieces, as well as many other contemporary choreographer's works, bodies are all over the place- disjointed, and then not. Think Renoir vs. Dali.
  13. Thanks so much for all your help! I did it- booked the hotel and got the tickets tonight! When I tried earlier on the KC website, I couldn't find The Royal Ballet listed, but tonight, I figured it out! I am beyond excited, and I can't wait to see my mom's face when I surprise her with the tickets....this is a dream come true.
  14. Thank you. I see that is quite complete- what a wonderful resource!
  15. Where & how would I go about getting tickets to see them at Kennedy Center? Do I have to pay for that Membership in order to get tickets? I have no idea how I'd swing this financially but I'd love to surprise my mom with tickets.... We would be driving so anyone have any advice on where to stay that would be close enough to catch the Metro to the performance but not stupid-expensive? I am assuming that the Metro runs after the performance as well? The last time I was in Washington DC I spent the entire time inside a hotel ballroom at a conference, so I am not at all familiar with the city. Any advice would be welcomed.
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