Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

Dear Katie: How Do I Get Over the Box of My Pointe Shoes?

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

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?

Aimee


Dear Aimee,

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.

Latest Posts


Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search