Screenshot via YouTube

This New Video Reminds Us Of Everything We Love (And Hate) About Dancing On Pointe, And We Can't Get Enough

As all bunheads know, there's so much more to dancing on pointe than sewing and bourées. In this new video, The Australian Ballet lays it all out for us, from A-Z. Or rather from "Arch" to "Zzzzzz's." Using a super fast-paced style, this four-and-a-half minute long video skips back and forth between ultra-sleek minimalism and sepia-toned nostalgia. Both educational and insider-y (see "cashews" at 0:54), this video includes some gorgeous shots (Apollo-inspired arabesques at 2:00) interspersed with quirky humor (note adorable pointe shoe bed at 3:53).

So here you go, "A to Z En Pointe." Did they miss any?

A TO Z EN POINTE www.youtube.com

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Photo by Lindsay Thomas

Ashton Edwards Is Breaking Down Gender Barriers in Ballet

When Ashton Edwards was 3 years old, the Edwards family went to see a holiday production of The Nutcracker in their hometown, Flint, MI.

For the young child, it was love at first sight.

"I saw a beautiful, black Clara," Ashton says, "and I wanted to be just like her."

Ashton has dedicated 14 years of ballet training in pursuit of that childhood dream. But all the technical prowess in the world can't help Ashton surmount the biggest hurdle—this aspiring dancer was assigned male at birth, and for the vast majority of boys and men, performing in pointe shoes hasn't been a career option. But Ashton Edwards, who uses the pronouns "he" and "they," says it's high time to break down ballet's gender barrier, and their teachers and mentors believe this passionate dancer is just the person to lead the charge.

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The good news? Every cheat can be beat. (Lucas Chilczuk)

Beat the Cheat: Combat Improper Hip Alignment With These Targeted Fitness Exercises

As dancers, we all have our vices—those little technique cheats that we know are incorrect, and we try our best to fix whenever we can remember...but at the end of the day, we just can't seem to banish them for good. After all, these cheats usually appear to help us: They can get our legs higher and our petit allégro a little faster, not to mention help us crank out that one extra rotation in a turn we dream about. Unfortunately, cheating proper technique also sets dancers up for a myriad injuries caused by improper alignment and undue stress on the body.

The good news: Every cheat can be beat. That is, when you know exactly what muscles and mobility pathways you need to strengthen in order to execute the step correctly. To help on that front, Amber Tacy, personal trainer and founder of the dancer-focused fitness community Dancers Who Lift, is here to guide you through a series of exercises designed to help you overcome the most common dancer cheats.

The Cheat: Lifting Your Hip for a Higher Extension

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Photo by Evolve Photo and Video Courtesy NYCDA

How to Perform Without a Mask...Again

The world is slowly opening back up. And if we can be honest, none of us will miss our sweaty masks sticking to our faces. Wearing a mask while dancing is nobody's favorite thing.

But there's another downside to masks that dancers must now grapple with: a year and a half now spent practicing performance incorrectly—that is, without using the face, which is the ultimate tool in conveying intention and emotion.

Dupree Dance faculty member Melissa Miles has seen this change firsthand. "As a dance-convention instructor, I have seen dancers stop performing with their face while they're wearing their masks in class," she says. "If we're not practicing our performance skills, we can't expect them to be great when we actually go onstage."

Recital and Nationals season is the perfect time to retrain those facial muscles. Dance Spirit spoke with Miles and Royal Flux company member Alexia Meyer on how to "face" the challenge.
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