The Feet Inside the Shoes

Let's just say it: Objectively speaking, dancer feet, particularly ballet dancer feet, can be really, really gross. Bruised toenails, blisters, callouses, bunions—they're not the most attractive things in the world.

But "ugly" feet are also a dancer's badge of honor. First, they're visual testimony to the hours of grueling work we all put in to make what happens onstage look effortless. And second, many of those "deformities" are actually protective armor. How could any ballet dancer survive a 12-hour day in pointe shoes without her trusty callouses?

New York City Ballet dancer Troy Schumacher talked to Claudia La Rocco about dancer feet over at The Performance Club's website yesterday. Here's the link to the post, which includes some of Schumacher's up-close-and-personal foot photos.

"There’s definitely a huge amount of pain that goes into ballet dancing," he says. "I really want to hide people’s pain a  little bit less...and try to make these dancers a little bit more human, even though ballet makes you able to hold yourself in ways that are almost super human."

Foot worship—as long as the feet are in pointe shoes—is pretty much universal among ballet dancers. But I like Schumacher's idea of celebrating what's going on beneath that pretty pink satin. Why shouldn't we be proud of the bleeding, blistered, calloused feet that allow us to create magic onstage?

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

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Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)

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