If the Shoe Fits

There's something mystical about the relationship between a ballerina and her pointe shoes. Finding the right pair is like finding the right pas de deux partner: The chemistry has to be perfect. I remember thinking of my pointe shoe fitter as my guru—she got me (or my feet, anyway).

After the Capezio 125th Anniversary Gala on Monday night, which paid tribute to the dancer-shoe connection, I rediscovered this New York City Ballet video profiling principal Megan Fairchild through her shoes. It's fascinating. (And adorable: It turns out that senior principal Wendy Whelan is Fairchild's "shoe mentor." She helped Fairchild find the best way to sew her ribbons.)

My favorite part of the video is when the dancers visit the Freed of London factory to get to know their "makers," the craftsmen who create their precious shoes. That's a rare occurrence: Usually makers and dancers never meet. At the Capezio gala, American Ballet Theatre's Craig Salstein, playing fellow ABT dancer Nicole Graniero's "maker," did a sort of fantasy duet with Graniero that was surprisingly poignant. In the end, New York City Ballet's Daniel Ulbricht swept in as Graniero's "real" partner. And yet I found myself rooting for Salstein. A good partner is one thing. But a ballerina isn't a ballerina without the right pair of shoes.

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:

Read Darriel's profile here

Read Diego's profile here

Read Emma's profile here

And then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

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Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.

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