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If the Shoe Doesn't Fit: 7 Pointe Shoe Buying Mistakes to Avoid
If your pointe shoe buying routine involves going online and clicking "reorder" on the shoes you've worn for years, it might be time to get a fresh, in-person assessment. Even a slightly different shoe can solve a host of issues—and help you avoid problems in the future. Find the best fit for your feet by avoiding these mistakes.
Mistake: Pushing Through Pain
"The culture of ballet can teach you to push through being uncomfortable," says Josephine Lee, founder of The Pointe Shop in Santa Ana, California, "but a lot of times, shoe-related discomfort is easy to fix." If you're plagued by bruised toenails, blisters or corns, those may be signs you need to go in for a fitting. A professional shoe fitter would likely be able to pinpoint whether your problem lies with width, length or another aspect.
Mistake: Ignoring Injuries
A better shoe might also be the key to performing with less pain. Dr. Thomas M. Novella, a podiatrist who's worked with dancers from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and other companies, cites several injuries that can be caused or worsened by dancing in the wrong shoes. For instance, "a too-short vamp, where 'toe cleavage' is visible, will fail to support the top of the foot on pointe," he says. One possible end result: stress fractures at the base of the metatarsals. Meanwhile, a too-high vamp can lead to jamming injuries in the ankle, as you push to get over the platform.
Mistake: Buying The Wrong Size
Adults' feet can fluctuate in size—and not just from one year to the next. Novella notes that feet can change within a single season, expanding during warmer weather or periods of intense activity, and shrinking again when it's cold or the activity level decreases. He advises setting aside shoes for both scenarios.
Another common issue is feet that are two different sizes. "If you're getting toenail bruises, blood blisters or other signs of compression, but only on one foot, have someone check each foot's size," Novella says. The solution might be to buy two pairs at a time—one for the right foot and one for the left.
Mistake: Fearing What's New
Even if you trust your current style, it can be worthwhile to look into recent releases. Each year, the industry announces innovations in materials, construction and design. "There might be technology inserted into a shoe that could really help you," Lee says.
Mistake: Following A Trend
The hottest new shoe might look great on someone else but be entirely wrong for you. "We fit to technique as well as to foot shape," Lee says. A knowledgeable fitter will be able to guide you toward—or away from—the latest trends, keeping your specific needs in mind.
Mistake: Changing Everything
Remember, you don't have to swap out every shoe element at once.
"If you've learned that a certain platform width, vamp length or shank firmness works, but you discover that you need a half-length longer, only change the length," says Novella. That way, the new shoe will still feel somewhat familiar.
Mistake: Giving Up Immediately
Be prepared to take time to acclimate. "You might not enjoy the first month in the correct shoe," Lee warns. "When dancers are comfortable in the wrong shoes, changing can feel 'wrong' before it feels right." Some discomfort early on doesn't necessarily mean you've made a bad choice; your body simply has to adjust.
"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.
The ballet world will converge on San Francisco this month for San Francisco Ballet's Unbound: A Festival of New Works, a 17-day event featuring 12 world premieres, a symposium, original dance films and pop-up events.
"Ballet is going through changes," says artistic director Helgi Tomasson. "I thought, What would it be like to bring all these choreographers together in one place? Would I discover some trends in movement, or in how they are thinking?"