The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

Just another site about the love of ballet

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 will stain pointe shoe satin); 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.


Confusion reigns December 4, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 10:45 pm

Here’s a story about Alena Kovaleva, a youngster who leaped out of the Vaganova Institute almost straight into some leading roles at the Bolshoi, including Odette/Odile.  One can’t help thinking this was what someone else wanted and didn’t get, and then there’s Xenia Zhiganshina, still languishing in the corps after three years (she does get leads and solos now and then, though).  Anyway…

The excuse the Mariinsky used to not hire her was her height, which this article lists as 5’8″.  I thought that was strange, as they hired Keenan Kampa just a few years back and she is the same height.  The recently retired Lopatkina is at least 5’9″; current prima Kondaurova is 5’10”.  Skorik is 5’8″.  Zakharova used to be a Mariinsky prima and she’s 5’9″.

If the Mariinsky is looking to shrink its ballerinas, they’ll be going strongly against their own recent history.  And in this case, it’s the Mariinsky’s loss and the Bolshoi’s apparent gain.  Time will tell.



Really fascinating video November 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 5:05 am

This video offers an astounding side-by-side comparison of four dancers dancing the same variation at the same competition.  I’m sure the person who created the video matched the music to just one of them, as the other three appear to be off — but then again, one dancer is head and shoulders better than the rest, and I’m wondering if they were also all using the same recording.

I’ve never seen a video quite like this one, so thought I’d share.


Another view of competitions November 12, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 8:15 pm

Ballerinas by Night

She starts by discussing pointe shoes, and she’s been through quite a bit with her mom dying (my sympathies to her and her family).   Then she discusses YAGP for a bit and actually comes up with a good view of it that I hadn’t thought of.