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.
For more of Katie's helpful tips and advice, click here.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
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.