My Latest Binge Watch: "Strictly Ballet"

No, you're not imagining it: Ballet is everywhere these days. In ads, in music videos and on TV. 

And with an increase in dance coverage hopefully comes an increase in dance knowledge. Just how did all these dancers actually become dancers? Even I, long past my eager pre-professional days at the barre, still find myself fascinated with how different students train around the world.

So is the staff over at Teen Vogue. Last year, the magazine debuted the first season of its web series "Strictly Ballet," which followed students during their final years at the School of American Ballet. This time around, we're getting a look at dancers of Miami City Ballet School. There's Mayumi Enokibara, who left Brazil in hopes of joining Miami City Ballet; Valeriia Chaykina, who left the Vaganova Academy in Russia with dreams of working in the U.S.; and Carlos Valdés, whose whole family moved to Miami from Cuba in support of his dancing. We watch a total of six students deal with injuries, the job hunt and the college versus company struggle. If you're a binge watcher like me, you're in luck. All of Season 2 is online.

 

And don't forget about Dance Magazine's new series that follows a professional dancer during a full day of work, from dawn to dusk. The first episode is with New York City freelancer Melissa Toogood. We'll be releasing new videos soon.

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020