The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

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Not all pointe is ballet December 23, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 5:29 am

No, it is not ballet just because you have pointe shoes on and do one or two recognizable ballet moves in your routine.

I’m not saying what these ladies are doing isn’t difficult, and doesn’t require extensive ballet and pointe training.  Certainly you have to be strong and well-trained to stay on pointe for an entire 3 minutes or whatever it was in the video.  BUT…

Lots of forms of dance utilize pointe.  Tap does, jazz does, even Irish dance does.  There are such things as as pointe-tap shoes (or tap-pointe shoes).  Anyway, the lesson here is that utilizing pointe does not turn any of them into ballet.

What we’re seeing in the video is what’s now called “commercial dance,” and this particular company includes a ton of pointe in its routines.  But it’s not ballet just because it has pointe work.  Ballet is a very specific art form.  This ain’t it.

No, I am not belittling it or calling it bad; it is not bad.  But I’m also not calling it ballet.

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Painful to look at December 21, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 11:14 pm

Gloria Govrin

Actually I’m not talking about this former, long-time NYCB dancer…I’m talking about her feet.  Look at ’em in that photo.  Ouch.

These, I suppose, were the “creative bunions” Balanchine worshiped.  All I know is, this is the way many pointe shoes used to be shaped.  Believe me, if you had square feet, it was not fun.

More on feet later.  Right now I’m contemplating a pointe-shoe fitting video done by Ballerina Badass, and contemplating tendus and feet based on something she said in that video.  May be an article coming.

 

My favorite ‘Snowflakes” December 15, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 9:11 pm

The Royal Ballet Waltz of the Snowflakes

My least favorite: possibly the NYCB’s frantic and sparse interpretation.  I know it’s sort of like a sacred cow in New York, but really, folks….it sucks.  Looks like a half-assed snow flurry in a gale.

 

Diana and Acteon pas de deux December 11, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 10:38 pm

Healy and Guerra

Osmolkina and Lobukhin

Womack and Martynyk

I was happy that I finally got to see a video of Womack made from the audience’s perspective instead of some weird angle backstage.  It was illuminating.

There are many videos of this pas de deux, of course, and the one I enjoyed the most was Osmolkina and Lobukhin.

I’ll just leave these here and let people make their own judgements.  I find some of Healy’s arabesques to be a bit awkward, but maybe that was the camera angle.  And her interpretation, although very lovely and floaty, doesn’t scream “goddess of the hunt” to me; the regal Osmolkina’s does.  (The Healy video is of course old and blurry.)

What I did notice was connection between the two dancers in that video, and in the Mariinsky video, as well as a flow and freedom in Healy’s and Osmolkina’s dancing.  The Mariinsky version is just out of this world.

 

Oh man… December 10, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 12:37 am

Peter Martins is granted leave of absence

I admit when I saw the title (I only read half of it) I assumed something had gone wrong with his health, but it appears this is a sexual harassment matter.  Judging from the article, however, it seems this one particular case is more of a violence issue than a gender-harassment one.  Martins was once accused of beating his wife, so I guess this would follow.  I know someone like this — he treats women like trash, and is truly astounded when there’s a blow-back.  And of course, everything is everyone else’s fault.

The rest of it puts me in mind of Bolshoi Babylon.  These accusations seem to be arising  all over the world all of a sudden.  May it lead to a good solution for all eventually (this situation took thousands of years to develop; it won’t disappear overnight).

This could bode a huge, almost immediate change at the NYCB, however.  Stay tuned.

 

Pointe Shoe Reviews December 9, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 7:34 pm

Just found this excellent channel on YouTube: Kisarhi En Pointe.  Good information here on individual shoes made by the major brands.  She also covers other aspects of dance that many other YouTubers ignore, such as over-training.

 

A catty pointe shoe moment (again, lol) December 8, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 3:49 am

I’m in the process of watching a video by an adult dancer who seems to have at least 10 to 15 pairs of pointe shoes, most of them not broken in because they don’t fit her in one way or another (too wide, vamp too high, etc.).  She claimed she was fitted for some of these shoes; somehow I rather doubt it unless her local fitter needs to find a new profession.

I won’t share her channel’s name, nor the video, because I don’t want to shame someone who just enjoys ballet and is an adult who can make her own decisions.  (If this were a kid, I’d be livid.)  However, I think there are a lot of unintentional points brought out by her video that should be discussed.

Thing is, her feet do not appear to be strong (although she swears in another video that her teachers tell her they are); she does not or cannot point them hard enough, and that may be partially because her ankles may not be flexible enough to support pointe work.  No matter which shoe she demonstrated, she was not getting over the box — or if she was, she was knuckling and/or there were gaps showing around the wings and wrinkling at the heel.  Dude, that kind of stuff can be dangerous.  For me this leads to the question of whether her teachers are advising her properly.  There are, after all, people whose feet and ankles simply won’t allow them to dance on pointe, and for a student and enthusiast, that’s okay.  Ballet didn’t start out with pointe anyway.  It’s okay to concentrate on building other sterling qualities in your dancing.

Of course if this person is really that determined, there’s always Patricia McBride to look to for inspiration.  Her feet were among the worst I’ve ever seen; she was always knuckling.  As a kid I called her “Hookfoot.”  As I remember, Patricia stated that she CHOSE to stand this way and chided fellow dancers for not having the “strength and control” to use their feet the way she did.  And her career lasted a long time, and her feet became integral to her art.  (Menzentseva was another one like that; of course there’s also Margot Fonteyn, but her feet were, at least, held straight during the early part of her career.)

Back to the point, this YouTuber also complained repeatedly about various shoes being “too hard.”  If she was talking about the box, that’s usually easily remedied in all shoes but Gaynors. Just do what we used to do in the days of old: pour rubbing alcohol over them while standing in the shower (without the water on — water can stain the satin of certain brands — at least that was true in the old days); or else while standing on a towel.  They’ll soften up and mold to your feet fast, although with some brands the paste may feel a bit crunchy once it dries.  Or else hammer them or slam them in a door.  (She said in another video that she’s done all this stuff…okay…)

This issue is hard for me to understand, because frankly the only conventional shoe I ever owned that had a box that wouldn’t soften was Sansha Recital.  Never had an issue with any other brand.

What else mystifies me is…well, there are lots of things.  One of them is why she bought four pairs of Freeds.  I’ve never had Freeds, but I’ve seen them up close.  They’re really the prettiest of all pointe shoes, real fairy-tale princess shoes.  But they are also considered “big girl shoes” for fully developed dancer’s feet.  For instance, the angle of the platform is difficult for many dancers.  That’s because Freeds — at least the stock variety — seem to demand perfect feet…not necessarily banana feet, but strong feet and flexible ankles.  This woman did not appear to have anything close to that, so of course she was unhappy with her Freeds.  But she had bought four pairs of them for whatever reason. One pair was custom, and still didn’t fit her.

Again, this is an adult, so the way she spends her money is none of my concern.  And I certainly understand about collecting pointe shoes — I’ve done it myself.   Pointe shoes are beautiful and fascinating even if you don’t dance in them.  But to keep buying Grishkos and Freeds when they make you miserable, and getting two pairs of Gaynors with a #4 box when you needed a #3….I don’t get it.

Anyway, she closed both videos with really defensive rants about how it’s her business how she spends her money, etc.  Of course it is.  Can’t argue there.  And I know how nasty some YouTube commenters can be; I’ve taken preventive steps to shut them down in the past.

But to take a shortcut to pointe shoe happiness, perhaps consider investing in a little more foot strength training, or perhaps asking your teachers if your ankle inflexibility is enough to prevent you from dancing on pointe at all, (or if it’s okay to dance on pointe with caution, never leaving the barre, since you’ll never be a professional anyway).  Also learn what your foot shape is.  For example, I’ll wager that very few dancers have large numbers of both Grishkos and Blochs in their collections, and there’s a reason for that: Grishkos tend to be tapered and Blochs tend to be squared.  Although this is certainly not true of all of the models in each manufacturer’s line, it was absolutely true of some of the models from each line that she owned.  If you’re buying online, good vendors will tell you that information in the product description.  If you’re being fitted in person, the fitter should know.

In the long run all this can save money even if you do buy most of your shoes at bargain prices on Ebay, because at least you’ll know exactly what to get.

It’s a thought.