Ballet Academy East student Stella MacDonald (Erin Baiano)

It's the rite of passage every young ballerina dreams of: getting her first pair of pointe shoes. But it's important to remember that a lot (and we mean a lot) of hard work and technique-honing leads up to this moment—not to mention getting the green light from your teacher. Dance Spirit turned to Jenna Lavin, former Miami City Ballet dancer and principal of the pre-professional division at Ballet Academy East in NYC, for three exercises meant to strengthen, train, and stabilize the muscles you'll be using once you're on pointe.

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Fitness
American Ballet Theatre principal Devon Teuscher (left) meeting with Bloch owner David Fox (right) in NYC. (Marius Bugge for Bloch)

For professional ballet dancers, the search for the perfect pointe shoe is a lifelong quest. Even the smallest adjustment in manufacturing can make the difference between a shoe that allows a ballerina to soar and a shoe that detracts from her dancing. So what goes into creating the perfect fit? A lot of hard work, patience, and masterful attention to detail. We got the inside scoop on how a Bloch pointe shoe is made from beginning to end, and went inside one of American Ballet Theatre principal Devon Teuscher's touch-up fittings with Bloch owner David Fox in NYC.

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Ballet
Colorado Ballet principal dancer Dana Benton's first pair of pointe shoes, kid's size 12—with all the darning worn off from dancing around on the carpet at home (courtesy Benton)

The mark of a truly skilled ballerina is her ability to make the pointe shoe look like a part of her body, an extension of her beautifully S-curved leg. It's hard to believe the shoe was ever foreign to her, or that she ever had that awkward first time on pointe. We asked six professional ballerinas to reminisce about that very first pair, and the memories—and photos—they shared are sure to make you smile.

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Ballet
via YouTube

Watching a ballerina customize her pointe shoes will just never get old. Not only is it oddly mesmerizing to watch, but the pros always have some genius tips and hacks to offer. New York City Ballet corps member Olivia Boisson recently sat down with Insider to talk about her pointe-shoe process, and trust us, the video is a must-watch.

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Dance Videos
The P-rouette shoe is made from 3D-printed fabrics—and our minds are seriously blown. (via Dezeen)

Pointe shoes printed on a 3D printer may sound like something only possible in the future. But imagine our surprise when we found out these high-tech shoes actually exist! Yes, you read that correctly...you can PRINT pointe shoes—and the end result offers less pain and way more durability than traditional methods.

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Dance News
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 dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

How do you know when you're ready to go on pointe? I know, I know, my teacher is supposed to tell me—but are there any signs I should be on the lookout for?

Rose

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Dear Katie
Courtesy NBC

Avery Gay and Marcus Sarjeant are the contemporary ballet bosses everyone's talking about. Their daring performance on "World of Dance" last week made for a surprising turn of events, knocking previous Junior Champion Eva Igo out of the competition. Not only are Avery & Marcus the only ballet act on the show to feature pointe work, but they're also hoping their crowd-pleasing approach to the art will change the way ballet is perceived by the public, making it more mainstream than ever before. Find out how these two got ready for their run on one of America's hottest dance shows—while living in different states.

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Dancer to Dancer
Kelly Schmutte fitting Sasha De Sola, a principal with San Francisco Ballet,for PerfectFit Pointe molds (photo by Jason Henry, courtesy Schmutte)

When Kelly Schmutte started dancing on pointe in fifth grade, she felt like there had to be a way to make it feel more natural. Right away she began thinking about how to improve the experience. "I wondered if there was a way to make it more enjoyable, so that a dancer could focus on technique and artistry, rather than what her shoe was doing," she says. Fast-forward to today, and Schmutte is founder and CEO of the wildly successful PerfectFit Pointe, a company that makes molded fitting solutions. Some of the biggest stars in ballet, like New York City Ballet's Sara Mearns and Lauren Lovette, say Schmutte's molds have been "game changing."

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Branch Out

Looking for your next audition shoe? Shot at and in collaboration with Broadway Dance Center, Só Dança has launched a new collection of shoes working with some pretty famous faces of the musical theater world! Offered in two different styles and either 2.5" or 3" heels, top industry professionals are loving how versatile and supportive these shoes are! Pro tip: The heel is centered under the body so you can feel confident and stable!

Sponsored
Screenshot via YouTube

Let's be real—as much as we love dance, there are days where the pain and discouragement that come from perfecting our craft can make us question why we do what we do. Well, five principal dancers of the Czech National Ballet got on our level and revealed that pain and pressure are as much a part of the process of dance as joy.

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Dancer to Dancer
Morgan Quinn modeling ballet classwear (photo by Kenneth Edwards)

Bring serious edge to your next barre in cool-girl classwear.

Modeled by Morgan Quinn

Photography by Kenneth Edwards

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Dance Fashion
George Balanchine backstage (Paul Kolnik, courtesy Dance Magazine Archives)

Happy birthday, George Balanchine! The great choreographer and founder of New York City Ballet would have been 114 years old today. Balanchine revolutionized ballet, especially American ballet—and he also had quite a way with words. To celebrate Mr. B's birthday, we rounded up some of our favorite iconic Balanchine quotes.

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Dancer to Dancer

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