Tiler Peck's Pointe Shoe Prep Is Completely Mesmerizing
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.
In case you don't have 40 minutes to spare, here are a few of the fun facts we learned during her broadcast:
-She has custom Freeds, and wears slightly different sizes on her right and left feet.
-She has favorite shoe "months"—i.e., every pair of shoes is marked by the Freed maker with the month it was made, and each month feels a little different.
-Sometimes she can tell if a shank is good by the way it sounds when she bends it.
-She'll wear nine pairs of shoes this week alone.
-She rosins the inside of her shoes as well as the outside.
-She'll spend up to 30 minutes picking out just the right pair of shoes for a role.
-She has a special "tapping spot" onstage where she tests her shoes to make sure they're quiet.
But if you do have 40 minutes to spare, it's worth watching the whole thing. Peck talks about all kinds of stuff as she sews her shoes—everything from her training history to her husband Robbie Fairchild's performances in the West End production of An American in Paris (d'awww). It's fascinating, and strangely soothing.
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.