Dear Katie: How Do I Get Over the Box of My Pointe Shoes?
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I just started pointe, and I'm having a hard time getting up and over the boxes of my shoes. It's not so bad at barre, but in the center, I really struggle. Do you have any tips?
There are a few possible explanations for your problem. The first lies in your shoes themselves—specifically, your vamp height. Many dancers like the look of vamps that come halfway up their feet, but your vamp should actually stop just an inch or two above your toes. A too-high vamp will inevitably push you backwards, no matter how hard you try to get over your box.
Technique issues could also be holding you back (literally). How is your barre work going? Are you depending on the barre to do the work for you, leaning on it to get up to pointe? If so, you aren't developing the muscles that will support you correctly. Focus on lifting up and out of your shoes during every exercise, rather than sitting in the shanks. Pull up your quads and lengthen your knees. And make sure you're not leaning back! Many dancers don't realize that their shoulders are behind their hips when they rise to pointe. Always imagine your upper body lifting up and forward.
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In our "Dear Katie" series, MCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I'm 14 and have been studying ballet seriously for about three years. Even though I feel ready,my teachers haven't put me on pointe yet. Am I doing something wrong? Should I ask them about it, or is it pointe-less?
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Samantha Figgins (Andrew Eccles)
Samantha Figgins is currently in her fifth season with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (and was a Dance Spirit cover girl back in 2013!). But what many people don't know is that the gorgeous dancer suffers from single-sided deafness. As a baby, Figgins contracted spinal meningitis, which caused her to lose all hearing in her right ear. She never gave up on her dance dreams, though, and fought her way through uncomfortable situations, never missing an opportunity to learn and grow. Now, after getting her first pair of hearing aids, she opens up about her path to success. —(As told to Courtney Celeste Spears)
Sara Esty as Maggie in "A Chorus Line" (courtesy Esty)
Sara Esty's ethereal grace and sophisticated charm have won over ballet and Broadway audiences alike. The bunhead-turned-Broadway-baby began training near her hometown in Gorham, ME, at the Maine State Ballet's School for the Performing Arts (with her equally fabulous twin sister, Leigh-Ann). She enrolled full-time at the Miami City Ballet School in 2004, and joined Miami City Ballet as an apprentice in 2005. In 2006, Esty won the Princess Grace Award, and she was promoted to soloist at MCB in 2011. After leaving MCB in 2014, she made her Broadway debut in An American in Parisas the understudy for Lise, and went on to share the role of Lise with her sister on the show's national tour. Most recently, she was seen in 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Marie, Dancing Stillin Seattle, WA. —Courtney Bowers