Every ballet dancer knows the time, sweat, and occasional tears the art form demands. But many non-dancers are clueless about just how much work a ballet dancer puts into perfecting his or her dancing. So when the mainstream crowd recognizes our crazy work ethic, we'll accept the round of applause any way it comes—even if it comes via four men in tutus. Yep, we're talking about "The Try Guys Try Ballet" video.
The Washington Post just ran a rather epic story about ballerinas' intense, inherently abusive relationships with their feet. And while a lot of it is stuff that serious dancers already know—getting up on pointe requires dancers to be as strong as football players, every dancer has her own pointe shoe break-in method, etc—the piece also includes anecdotal gems from the likes of Lauren Lovette and Julie Kent. (And some pretty photos of Washington Ballet dancers Sona Kharatian and Ashley Murphy.)
Every ballerina's pointe shoe process is intense, but some dancers take pointe prep to a completely different level. And New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck definitely falls in that second category.
The New York Times recently did a Facebook Live event with Peck, following her as she chose and prepped her shoes for the evening's performance. (She was about to dance in Alexei Ratmansky's Pictures at an Exhibition.) Peck is a crazy perfectionist onstage—it's one of the qualities that makes her so compelling—and she's just as much of a crazy perfectionist about her shoes.
Ugh, pointe shoe pads: Are they ever not stinky? It's just inevitable: feet + sweat + not-always-breathable materials + confined space = that icky odor we dancers know all too well.
So, what can you do to keep your pads as clean and stink-free as possible? Here are a few tips DS writer Julie Diana got from Kelly Agnew, a teacher at Houston Ballet Academy.
Ah, pointe shoes: They are our forever frenemies. Much as we're obsessed with them, even the most serious bunheads can have difficulty figuring them out.
That's where The School at Steps' Pointe Shoe Workshop and Fair comes in. Part advice panel, part shoe sale, the annual event brings together experts from all corners of the ballet world, as well as representatives from major pointe shoe brands. Whether you're just about to start pointe or are trying to find the perfect pair before your upcoming company audition, you can get a lot out of this shindig.
Behind-the-scenes pointe shoe videos are the stuff of bunhead dreams. There've been many lovely additions to this category over the years, all of which shed light on how intricate and involved the process of crafting the shoes really is.
But National Geographic took it a step further with their short film, "Ballet Shoes: The Craft Before the Dance." The filmmakers traveled to the Freed of London factory, where they interviewed many of the makers we've spotted in previous pointe shoe vids. It's incredible to hear them speak about how long they've been there, and even more special to witness the extreme dedication to their craft. These makers know they play such a huge part in helping a ballerina reach her peak, and because of that, it's safe to say that each pair of shoes truly is special in its own way. Check it out below: