Pointe-ing to a Greener World
It all started with a question in an old issue of Pointe magazine: “I feel bad sending all of my dead pointe shoes to a landfill. Is there any way to recycle them?” When Katarina Jakimier read the answer—“Currently, there are no specific pointe shoe recycling programs”—her mind started to churn.
“I really care about the environment,” says Katarina, 13, a student at Texas Ballet Theater School in Dallas. “And since dancers go through so many pairs each year, I was pretty surprised they didn’t have a way to recycle them.” After all, “they’re basically made out of cotton, satin and jute. Those are all natural fibers, so they’re excellent candidates for recycling.”
Katarina, then 12, decided to take matters into her own hands. In February 2014, she began working on the Dallas Pointe Shoe Recycling Project. Now, thanks to her work, the Dallas dance community can breathe easier knowing it’s doing its part for the environment: Instead of sending worn pointe shoes to the dump, dancers in the area can drop them off in recycling containers around town. From there, the shoes get picked up, broken down and eventually made into something else.
Katarina shows off a pointe shoe recycling bin at the Ivivva by Lululemon showroom in Dallas, TX (photo courtesy Mary Jakimier)
Putting a Plan in Place
Katarina knew starting a recycling initiative wasn’t
going to be easy. But she had another driving factor. A longtime Girl Scout, she had been searching for the right project to submit for the Girl Scout Silver Award, the most prestigious prize for Scouts in sixth through eighth grades. And because the rules state that candidates must spend at least 50 hours on their projects, Katarina wanted to choose something related to her passion: dance. A pointe shoe recycling project seemed to be the perfect fit.
“My first step was visiting the major dance companies, dancewear stores and studios in town to find out if any of them had recycling programs,” Katarina says. “They didn’t—but they all said to let them know if I found anything. So I became even more convinced our community really needed this.”
A Test of Perseverance
Katarina began calling recycling centers, but finding a local company that recycled textiles—not just glass, plastic or metal—proved challenging. “It was even harder to find a textile recycling plant that accepted shoes,” Katarina says. Many times, she’d reach out to a representative who would, in turn, tell her to call three other people—who would then point her in other directions. And each time, she’d have to start at square one: explaining the pointe shoe cycle. “A few people thought ‘Oh, well, all shoes can be reused,’ ” she says. “I really had to be clear that once pointe shoes are dead, they’re dead.”
By March, Katarina had started forming a backup plan. “I got in touch with a company called World Wear Project,” she says. “They don’t quite recycle—the plan was to collect old but still wearable ballet slippers and redistribute them.” But the reuse idea wasn’t really what Katarina was hoping for. She also thought about collecting worn pointe shoes and mailing them to a center across the country for recycling, but that system was faulty, too. “I didn’t like the idea of asking a dance studio to package the shoes and pay for shipping,” she says. “It would’ve been a big burden.”
The Pointe Shoe Recycling Project
Just when she was getting desperate, Katarina received an email from American Textile Recycling Services. Its representative was able to point Katarina in the right direction: a recycling bin in Dallas that would accept pointe shoes. “My project was back on!” Katarina says. “Even better was that the ATRS collection bin wasn’t far from my house or the dance studios I’d reached out to initially.”
Katarina set her plan in motion. She placed pointe shoe collection containers—with posters and information sheets about pointe-shoe recycling—in three dancewear stores and two studios. “The containers are airtight, so the smell of old shoes won’t leak out,” she says. Once the containers are full, the store or studio owners take them to the recycling bin, empty the contents and bring the containers back to their businesses to reuse.
Later that summer, Katarina found out that her project had earned the Silver Award. But she’s not done yet: She wants to spread her green toes even farther. “I really hope people will see the project and contact me,” she says, “or start recycling projects of their own. I’m happy with how this turned out and I’m excited to help in other areas, too.”
You've seen it a million times: A glamorous, toned dancer posts a perfectly styled shot of her colorful smoothie bowl. The caption gushes about how great you'll feel if you eat "clean"—but what does that actually mean? DS asked registered dietitian/nutritionist Rachel Fine and holistic health coach (and founder of The Whole Dancer) Jess Spinner for all of the dirt.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com a chance to be featured!
I'm being bullied by one of the girls at my studio, and it's awful. I've talked to my dance teacher and confronted the bully directly, but it hasn't made a difference. What should I do?
Bunheads, this one's for you. They say you can tell a Nutcracker by its "Snow" scene—and we fully believe it. There are so many versions with extra goodies—olive branches! Fake snow! Sleds! Choirs! Snow queens!—and each brings a special something to the holiday favorite. But do you know which ballet has what?
You're probably already following your favorite dancers on Instagram, but did you know that you can follow many of their dogs, too? We rounded up some of our favorite dog-centered accounts and hashtags to keep you pawsitively entertained (sorry, we can't help ourselves).
Consistent turns are a must for aspiring professional dancers, but pretty much everyone struggles with pirouettes at some point. Luckily, since we're all beholden to the same rules of physics, there are concrete steps every dancer can take to reach his or her top turning potential. “Three is the new two when it comes to pirouettes, but the secret to turning is technique, not magic," says Bojan Spassoff, president and director of The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.
Falling out of your doubles? Aspiring to go revolution for revolution with your class's star turner? No matter where you lie on the turning spectrum, our 360-degree guide to pirouettes will help you improve.
Let's face it—spare time is pretty tough to come by when you're a dancer. You're either rushing to get ready for rehearsal, rushing to rehearsal, a combo of the two, or in rehearsal (or performing, or in class, or at an audition...you get the picture). Well here at DS, we understand the struggle is REAL, which is why we've rounded up our favorite foolproof makeup hacks, approved by resident #LazyGirl when it comes to makeup (spoiler alert: it's me). On to the hacks!
Kalea (pronounced kah-LAY-uh) Hidalgo knows how to move. Her decisive, dynamic dancing commands the stage: She gobbles up space so confidently it's hard to believe you're watching a mere tween. Unsurprisingly, that presence and power have started turning heads in a serious way. Not only did Talia Favia choreograph one of her solos in 2017, but Kalea also recently signed with Bloc Talent Agency in L.A. and, last summer, placed first overall in the junior contemporary solo category at Radix Nationals.
"When you're out on the dance floor, don't ask for permission—ask for forgiveness."—Kalea Hidalgo
Taylor Swift is #blessed in many ways: She's got a great voice, insane song writing skills, and, to quote her new hit single, she's "Gorgeous." She is not, however, blessed in the dance department. But that doesn't stop her from busting out the occasional dance move. In fact, Swift likes to playfully show off her less-than-stellar dancing, be it in her music videos (hello, "Shake It Off") or at music award shows. So we weren't surprised when during the latest episode of her "Making of a Song" series for AT&T, she unveiled a new endearingly awkward maneuver, which she's dubbed the "dolphin body roll"—and it practically had friend and producer Jack Antonoff rolling on the floor!🤣
You rehearse your group routine to perfection, but when the big performance rolls around, everyone turns into speed demons. It's the runaway-train effect—and it only takes one loud tapper, or zippy turner, to throw the whole group off the music.
While nerves and excitement are partly to blame, the ability to keep to tempo begins in the studio. A well-developed sense of musicality is your best defense against the dreaded speed trap. "When you understand how the steps fit with the music, going too fast won't just feel like rushing," says Jeremy Arnold, lecturer of tap at the University of Texas at Austin. "It'll feel wrong." How can dancers develop that musicality? It all starts with learning to listen.