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New Capezio Pointe Shoe “The Airess”

My Pointe Shoe Story – From Beginner to Airess

By The Dance World Editor July 31, 2015

From Dance Informa

Do you remember your first pointe shoe fitting and your first pointe class? Although it was uncomfortable and unconventional, it was so magical to dance on your toes. Your shoes were shiny, new and so pretty and you felt like a real ballerina.

Alison-Stroming-Capezio-Pointe-Shoes-700x250

Finding your feet in pointe is a personal journey from how you sew your ribbons and break in your shoes to what style and brand you like to wear. Some dancers seem to transition to pointe like they were made to dance on their toes and others find it a challenge of perseverance, blisters, bunions and cramping arches or aching ankles. Any ballerina will agree, though, that no matter the pain, pointe is worth its ethereal illusion of weightlessness. Ballerinas are happiest when upon their toes.

Award-winning, young competition dancer and model Tate McRae, 12, started dancing at six and first started pointe about two years ago, at 10 and a half. “When I finally got en pointe, it was a dream come true,” she exclaimed. “I am finally a ballerina,” she thought.

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Read the full article My Pointe Shoe Story

 

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How to Stretch your Feet

By:The Dance World Editor

By: Ballet Hub

Stretching and strengthening your feet have many benefits to your overall technique and presentation as a ballet dancer.  Dancers have found all sorts of ways to stretch feet over the years using all sorts of tecnhniques like cramming their feet under a piano or couch, using tools built specifically to stretch feet, or even asking a friend to do it. And while some are effective, some other techniques can actually be quite risky and may result in injury.

A dancer strives for two things, among many others: strength and flexibility.  One without the other and there is an imbalance.

Today we’ll show you a couple ways to stretch your feet that are both safe and easy.

These foot stretches are simple stretches that don’t require you to buy anything, ask anyone or use any tools.

Foot Stretch Technique #1: Grab and Pull Back

simple safe foot stretch for ballet dancerThe basic idea, as you may have guessed, is that you grab your foot and pull back.  Let’s take a look:

  • Sitting on the floor, place the foot you want to stretch over your other thigh to create a figure 4 with your legs.
  • With the hand closest to your heel, push into your heel.  Be sure to relax your Achilles!  (the large band coming down from your calf that attaches to your heel)
  • With the hand closest to your toes, place it over your toes and up your foot a couple inches and pull back so that your foot arches, feeling a nice stretch on the top.

And that’s it!  It’s simple but effective.  Need a little more stretch?  Read on for technique number 2!

Foot Stretch Technique #2: Wrap n’ Push

It’s not really called “Wrap n’ Push,” as that name was made up just seconds ago.  More important than thinking of a creative label, is how effective this foot stretch really is!  If you find that stretching your feet with your hands hasn’t quite worked well, this one is for you.  Let’s take a look

  • Once again, sitting on the floor, place the foot you want to stretch over your other thigh to create a figure 4 with your legs.
  • Lift your foot up slightly and wrap your arm (that is on the same side of the leg you bent) under your bent leg, grabbing the top of your foot toward your toes with your hand.
  • With your free hand, place it on top of your hand that is grabbing on the top and bottom half of your foot.
  • Lean slightly forward so that your elbow is tucked more closely under your calf and the top of your arm is pushing right into your calf muscle.
  • Now that you’re setup, be sure not to feel any tension in your knee and remember to relax your foot and Achilles.
  • Begin stretching your foot by pulling back with both of your hands and at the same time equally pushing your leg forward.

 

 

foot stretching technique for ballet dancers
Stretching TechniqueSitting on the floor, cross one leg over the other to make a figure 4.
Foot stretching exercise for dancer on floor
Wrap your arm underneath your leg and foot, placing your hand on top, over the bottom half, of your foot.
foot stretch for dancers increase flexibility
Place your free hand over the hand that is already holding your foot.
foot stretching on ground for better feet dancer
Begin the foot stretch by pulling back with your hands while your lean forward.

By pulling equally on your foot with your hands and pushing out with your arm, your leg shouldn’t actually move, but you should feel quite a bit more extra strength to better stretch your foot.

You can play around with this one to best suit it to your body, but the push and pull action that allows for the additional strength is the general idea.

Remember, you should never feel that you are straining or “working too hard” to stretch your feet.  You don’t want to overstretch your feet.  Ease into it slowly and take a break from time to time to let the whole foot relax.  You will end up getting more out of your stretches this way.

a great foot stretch for dancersHere is one final look at this effective stretch, but from the angle you’d see if trying it for yourself.

Why Are These Foot Stretches More Safe and While Some Others Aren’t?

The biggest reason why these foot stretches are more safe is because you are in complete control of the stretch and you are doing it with your hand, meaning you are not adding additional stress on your body.  For example, other stretches may often involve the dancer prying their feet underneath a heavy object and stretching their knee until they feel a stretch.  By doing so, the dancer is placing an incredible amount of tension and strain on the knee joint, muscles in the leg, and digging their heel painfully into the ground for more leverage.

You don’t want to overstretch your feet.

Another popular (for unknown reasons) method for stretching feet is asking a friend to stretch your feet.  For this to happen, the asker first must assume that the stretcher is actually okay with touching his or her feet.  Then the asker usually sits on the floor with a leg stretched out in front while the stretcher pushes down with a lot of force.  This is basically the same idea of prying your foot underneath a heavy object, but now you are at risk of your friend pushing down with enough force that by the time you yell out “Ouch!” its too late and you’ve overstretched your foot.  This technique, though popular in schools, is not recommended for many reasons, besides safety, you are now relying on someone else to do the work for you, which is like asking someone to do all of your homework while you get the credit.

Still, Always Be Careful

Stretching your feet is always recommended, so long as you aren’t facing an injury of course.  But that being said, you always want to be careful.  Don’t stretch your feet so much that you’re actually causing them to be weak, which leads us to our final tip.  Also, be sure that you stretching your feet in a sickled position.

Always Wrap Up With a Few Strengthening Exercises

Now that you’ve stretched your feet so well, you want them to be able to get there on their own without help from your hands.  There is little chance that will happen without adding some exercises to strengthen your feet in the range of their new found flexibility. After you’ve done some foot stretching, be sure to grab a therapy band for some strengthening exercises or do some tendus.

A dancer strives for two things, among many others: strength and flexibility.  One without the other and there is an imbalance.  Weak but very flexible feet can be just as much of a hurdle as strong but flexible feet when it comes to ballet technique.

For more on this article CLICK HERE

Secret Cure for Ingrown Toenails

By: The Dance World Editor

 By: Shannon Marie Rugani

As if dancing on my toes wasn’t painful enough, I suffered from ingrown toenails for years. It got to the point that I didn’t even know what a healthy toenail was supposed to look like. I saw a podiatrist who said that I should have surgery to remove part of the ingrown toenail. The recovery time would take two to three months before I would be able to dance again. I didn’t want to miss out on dancing for that long so I suffered through dancing on four ingrown toenails.

One of my colleagues told me about an old wives’ tale to get rid of ingrown toenails. I was so desperate to try anything that I gave it a try. It worked! Not only did they go away, they have never come back!

According to the old wives’ tale, you cut a V-shape into the center of the toenail. The nail gravitates toward the weakest part of the nail, so if the sides are weak, the nail will grow toward the side resulting in ingrown toenails. By cutting the V in the center of the nail, it starts growing toward the V to close the gap. The nail starts growing in rather than out. This is such a simple yet effective cure and I’ve been cutting a V into my toenails ever since.

For those of you who do not have ingrown toenails, I’ll tell you how to prevent them. Cut your toe nails straight across, then use a nail file to smooth the sharp ends of the nail. Stop somewhere around the tip of the toe before it becomes too short to prevent sensitivity. If you keep your nails square, you will be able to avoid ingrown toenails.

ingrowntoes

I am not a podiatrist, but I hope this simple trick helps you either get rid of ingrown toenails or prevent them from ever happening. Happy dancing!

For more on Shannon Marie Rugani click here

 

INJURY PREVENTION 101

By: The Dance World Editor

By Leigh Schanfein of Dance Informa

Nutrition

We often think of using food as fuel: ingest it, burn it, use it for energy. However, food and beverages are what our bodies use for every function, from muscle contraction to nerve impulse to new cell formation! Many foods, especially natural and minimally processed foods, provide us with many nutrients that our bodies use in a myriad of ways. For example, the mineral calcium is well known for being a hugely important part of bone health by helping us build and maintain bone density. But, did you know that calcium is also critical for creating an electric impulse that travels down a nerve, or for allowing a muscle to relax after contracting? Our bodies host a complex orchestration that allows us to function under conditions ranging from maximal exertion to complete rest.

There are six nutrient groups: Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins, Minerals and Water.  Most foods contain more than one nutrient but it is important to eat a wide variety of food to make sure we get them all! ALL are important, so do not cut any out of your diet.

Carbohydrates are primarily used for short-term energy while fats are primarily used for long-term energy, insulation and cell formation. Proteins make muscles and many other cells, and we need to consume enough carbohydrates and fats so that we aren’t using up our proteins for energy. The only complete food source for protein is meat, so vegetarians must make sure they eat a good variety of plant-sources to get all the essential amino acids.

Vitamins and minerals are used in many different bodily functions. Fat-soluble vitamins are easily stored in the body but water-soluble vitamins are easily flushed out so we need to consume them on a daily basis. Did you know water is a nutrient? It is so vital to your health that losing only 1% of your body weight in water can result in the ill effects of dehydration. Plenty of research has shown that losing even 2% can result in huge deficits in physical and mental performance!

Gradual Loading

This sounds like a term more suitable to carrying boxes! Basically, we do not want to overwork our bodies by doing too much too soon. We should make physical changes gradually. Research has found that dancers tend to get injured when they have a dramatic change in their workload, either a rapid increase in the amount of dancing or a quick transition to a new style of dance for which the body is unprepared.

How can we prepare our bodies for such changes? Rather than jumping right into a new schedule or new repertory, we should do what we can to introduce our bodies to the change by taking time to increase the volume and/or intensity of physical load. This could mean gradually increasing the number of classes we take as we transition from time off back into our full dance schedules. Or it could be increasing the number of repetitions we do of class combinations to improve strength or endurance in preparation for starting a new rehearsal period.

Another example might be as specific as introducing our bodies to a new dance style or choreography. A little research will go a long way; if you find out you will be doing modern rep and you are not used to working in parallel, start doing some exercises at home that strengthen your adductors and internal rotators. If you know you’re going to be doing a high intensity dance that has you sweating and panting, add some cardio exercises and increase your reps in class until your endurance is spot on. When you know the demands, you can make smart adjustments and prevent overuse and fatigue.

Read the full article here for more injury prevention information.

Photo (top): © Handmademedia | Dreamstime.com

Dancer Recommended Recipes!

By: The Dance World editor

By:  Amy Omernick

dancerreicpesblog

Check out what these dancers recommend as great recipes for dancers! We have a few of our own too.

 

Kimberly Braylock, San Francisco Ballet
Kale Chips
Click here for the recipe via Smitten Kitchen 

Melissa Chapski, Ellison Ballet
Chia Raspberry Drink
Click here for the recipe via Mama Natural

Miko Fogarty, Indiana Ballet Conservatory
Dried Mango
Click here for the recipe via POPSUGAR

Samantha Figgins, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
An Avocado and Hummus
Click here for the recipe via Inspired Taste

Angeli Mamon, Pacific Northwest Ballet
Luna Bars
Click here for the recipe via Chocolate-covered Kate 

Shannon Rugani, San Francisco Ballet
Greens Energy Bar
Click here for the recipe via Epicurious

Danielle Hernandez, The Dance World Editor  & Competitive Latin Dancer

Strawberry/Kiwi Smoothie (add a scoop of protein 11-14 grams recommended)

Click here for the recipe via All Recipes 

Want more on healthy dancer recipes? Email the Dance World Editor!

danielle@on1dancewear.com

 

Pilates & Dance

PILATES & DANCE

By: The Dance World Editor

By: Kristen Padden

Looking for the perfect cross training exercise to enhance your dance technique?
Pilates may be just the thing to help you strengthen your core while increasing flexibility and it happens to be lots of fun too!pilatesimage1

Dance greats like Mikhail Baryshnikov, George Balanchine, Rudolf von Laban, Hanya Holm, and Martha Graham all used the Pilates method!

WHAT IS PILATES?
Pilates is a mind-body exercise program developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. Pilates uses movement and breath to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. Full body movements performed on a mat, or using specially designed equipment, focus on the core muscle groups of the abdomen and the back.

THE PILATES – DANCE CONNECTION
Although founder Joseph Pilates was not a dancer, he worked with many famous dancers when he moved to the United States from Europe. Dance greats like Mikhail Baryshnikov, George Balanchine, Rudolf von Laban, Hanya Holm, and Martha Graham worked with Pilates and often sent their dancers to see him for injury rehabilitation.

So why did these dance masters, and hundreds of dancers since, take to Pilates so eagerly? For one, both disciplines use the whole body, and focus the mind in their movements. Both Pilates and dance tend to create long and lean muscles, and use resistance and momentum to work on strength, flexibility, and posture.

In addition, many of the exercises in isolate key muscles used in dance technique, thus naturally strengthening dance movements. When I studied dance in college, Pilates training was part of a body alignment class I took. After several months of working on the Pilates Reformer apparatus, I noticed my balance in ballet class had improved, as did my pirouettes, and strength in jumping.

pilatesimage2

 

Click HERE for more on Pilates

Boston Ballet’s Dusty Button

What I’ve learned from Formula 1 Racers: Ballerina Dusty Button
By: The Dance World Editor

DI_Dusty_MAINBy Allison Gupton of Dance Informa.

She’s not just her multiple pirouettes. She’s not just her gorgeous lines. Dusty Button, principal dancer for Boston Ballet, is so much more. She is a choreographer, dance fashion line designer, car enthusiast, dedicated wife and an inspiration to young dancers everywhere.

Dance Informa was fortunate enough to chat with Button about her inspirations, what a day in her life looks like and her advice for dancers wanting to pursue a career in ballet.

Tell me a little bit about where you’re from and your dance training. What made you want to pursue a more ballet-centric career?

“I am a Southern Bell, having grown up in South Carolina, and the training was much slower paced than that of London, New York City and Boston, as I learned once leaving home at a young age to pursue my career. I am very structured and of all genres that I studied, ballet seemed to be the one with the richest and most structured history. With a foundation like that I can only see room for growth.”

 

Read the rest of the article HERE

Winter is “Snow” much fun

Winter is “Snow” Much Fun

It’s easy to be fashionable, warm and comfortable! Stand out in class with these amazing Knits by KD Dance. Mix and match with your favorite dance tops or leotards to create a look that is uniquely yours….because winter is snow much fun.

picture-85

On Ellie (left) High waist roll down knit shorts by KD Dance and dance bra by Motionwear.

On Sydney (middle) Knit leggings by KD Dance and foil green dance bra by Capezio.

On Claire (floor) High waist roll down knit shorts and wrap sweater by KD Dance.

elliekddanceKnit Roll Down Shorts

 kddancesydneywhiteSweater Tights by KD Dance

kddancetopKnit Tunic by KD Dance

 

Lace of Luxury

This Week’s pics for Look of the Week!

Lace of Luxury

Keep it classic with a touch of Luxe Fashion with these beautiful lace leotards. Even wear them at auditions for that classy, edgy look.
By: The Dance World Editor 

 

  Ainsliewear “Greta” Tank Leotard    
ainsliepasten2

chloe2 Ainsliewear “Chloe” Lace back leotard

lacecapezioCapezio Lace High Neck Leotard

Where any of these leotard with tights and your warm up of choice in ballet or pair them with great dance shorts for jazz and contemporary classes. Make a statement with your dancewear!

Healthy Food Choices

Healthy food choices for Dancers

By: The Dance Wolrd Editor

By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD. via Dance Informa
www.dancernutrition.com.

If you are one of the many people who have had a hard time losing a few pounds using traditional approaches of counting calories and fat grams, then it’s time for a new approach. New Year’s resolutions give us an enthusiastic opportunity to seize the day, but how do we really make change happen and stick to it in a sustainable way?  “Sustainability” has become such a buzzword that can all too easily lose its impact or become cliche.  But making choices that are sustainable for our bodies, our busy lives, and the environment is exactly what we have to do to make a lasting difference.  The beauty of the sustainability approach, is that when you stop obsessing over calories, fat grams, and carbs, you open yourself up to making delicious food choices based on more positive criteria.

#1 Eat Real Food 

Before you make a food choice, ask yourself if it’s real food. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.  Michael Pollan’s famous quote sounds so simple, but in this day of ultra processed food, we have to actually define “real food”.  This means fresh, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts and whole grains.  If the food label is longer than a typical tweet, or if you don’t recognize some of the ingredients, then rethink eating it.  This doesn’t have to be hard. Instead of a pop tart for breakfast, grab overnight oats out of the fridge.  Instead of cheese puffs from the vending machine, pack almonds and a clementine.  Instead of chicken nuggets for lunch, have a hummus, cucumber, spinach sandwich on whole grain bread with lentil soup.  Don’t stress about calories, simply plan ahead to aim to get a fruit or veg at each meal and snack.

#2 Eat Clean 

Eating real food (not from packages, boxes, cans, or plastic) automatically limits your exposure to some substances that have been linked to weight gain, learning challenges, and even sometimes cancer.   Packaged, conventional products often have more sugar, salt, fat, additives, preservatives, colors, dyes, GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, and nasty chemicals like BPA.  Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in the lining of canned foods, plastic packaging, and some drink bottles.  There are numerous studies linking BPA and the rising rates of obesity 1,2,3,9. The obesity epidemic is multifaceted and bigger than just our over consumption of calories, but chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics in our food are thought to be contributing factors 1,2,3,10.

When you consider what else could be in your food besides calories and fat you automatically begin to make choices that support a healthy weight.  Don’t be misled by healthwashing claims that your bag of chips are “natural”4.  The word “natural” on your food package isn’t clearly defined in the U.S..  Instead, take 15 minutes to boil some quinoa, toss with dried fruit, nuts, and some olive oil dressing and presto you have dinner without any packages going to landfill.  Throw some beans, onion, and green pepper in the slow cooker, serve with rice, and dinner will be waiting for you when you get home from a long day.  Make extra to save.  No packages required, the calories will naturally be lower than something from a box, and you limit your exposure to obesogenic substances.  The Centers for Science in the Public Interest and The Environmental Working Group have wonderful tools that allow you to know more about how substances can affect the human body 3,4,8,9.

#3 Your Food Choices Affect More Than Just Your Waistline

Your food choices affect others. When you make the decision to buy a burger and soda you choose food products that come from a very unhealthy system.  Sodas and even bread contain high fructose corn syrup which is genetically modified to withstand spraying of industrial herbicides. The meat is likely from a factory farm that routinely uses antibiotics which contribute to antibiotic resistant infections in people (in the U.S.). It is estimated that 90,000 people die each year from antibiotic resistant infections and resistance is a major public health crisis10. Children who live near factory farms have higher rates of asthma and farm animal waste runoff has been linked to e. coli outbreaks10.  Red meat production contributes heavily to pollution5,6,9,10. Choose a veggie burger instead, you’ll get less calories and fat but you also positively impact others on the planet.

Ultimately you are voting with your fork to decide what kind of future you want. This New Year, instead of worrying about calories, make a real sustainable difference by eating clean, eating less meat and dairy, and eating with the seasons. You just might be surprised how sustainable eating affects your waist line (and waste line) well after January’s burst of motivation has worn off.

Emily Harrison
Emily Cook Harrison MS, RD, LD
Emily is a registered dietitian and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition from Georgia State University. Her master’s thesis research was on elite level ballet dancers and nutrition and she has experience providing nutrition services for weight management, sports nutrition, disordered eating, disease prevention, and food allergies. Emily was a professional dancer for eleven years with the Atlanta Ballet and several other companies. She is a dance educator and the mother of two young children. She now runs the Centre for Dance Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles. She can be reached at emily@dancernutrition.com
www.dancernutrition.com

Sources:

1. Association Between Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration and Obesity Prevalence in Children and Adolescents. JAMA. 2012;308(11):1113-1121.  jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1360865
2. BPA in food packaging tied to childhood obesity: http://contemporarypediatrics.modernmedicine.com/contemporary-pediatrics/news/modernmedicine/modern-medicine-feature-articles/bpa-food-packaging-cont?page=full
CDC.gov, Overweight an Obesity:  www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html
3. Center for Science in the Public Interest: Chemical Cuisine, Learn about Food Additives: www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm
4. Center for Science in the Public Interest: Eating Green. www.cspinet.org/EatingGreen/
5. Live Science:  www.livescience.com/22050-heat-waves-high-death-tolls.html
6. Years of Living Dangerously: http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/topic/heat/
7. Healthwashing: www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-bellatti/healthwashing_b_4101450.html
8. CSPI Food Day: Food Impact Quiz: www.foodday.org/14questions
9. Environmental Working Group. ewg.org
10. Industrial Farm Animal Production in America: a report of the Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 2010.

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