Style & Beauty
PNB principal Elizabeth Murphy prepping her shoes. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, courtesy PNB

Preparing pointe shoes is a highly personal process. Each pair requires seemingly contradictory qualities—that they be supportive yet soft, that they be strong yet quiet, that they show off the foot while providing enough structure for balances. So it's no surprise that the quest to get it right is an ongoing experiment.

Three professional ballet dancers shared the secrets of their own prep routines, mistakes and challenges with Dance Magazine.

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What Dancers Eat
Theo Kossenas, Courtesy The Washington Ballet

While Ashley Murphy-Wilson was growing up, her grandmother, Ella Bowers, owned a restaurant in their hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, and taught The Washington Ballet dancer how to cook. "She's still teaching me!" Murphy-Wilson says with a laugh. Big family meals were Southern soul food and pure decadence: fried chicken, fried fish, collard greens, sweet potato pies and all kinds of cakes and casseroles.

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