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Pointe Shoes for Every Foot Type

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Finding the right pointe shoe can be challenging—and with tons of shoes on the market, there’s a lot to consider. Dance Spirit asked Josephine Lee, expert pointe shoe fitter and owner of Dancer’s Choice Dance Supply in Irvine, CA, to walk us through the best shoes for each foot shape.

Dancers: How much protein do you need?

Protein Needs of Dancers: How Much, What Kind, and When?

 By: The Dance World Editor 

DI_protein_MAINFrom Dance Informa

Do dancers need extra protein? Do they need to use powders, drinks, shakes or amino acid supplements or should they just eat more? Sadly, the misguided “low-carb” fad continues to be a contributing factor in 70% of Americans being overweight or obese. In light of current research suggesting a link between meat and dairy and risk for long-term diseases…what should you think?

How Much:

Yes, dancers have slightly higher protein needs than the average non-athletic person, particularly if they are still growing adolescents. However, it is important that we think beyond this incorrect idea that most of our food should be protein and that we should avoid carbohydrates. Adequate protein is important, but too much can be harmful. Everyone is a little different, but guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) are that 12-15% of all the calories you eat throughout a whole day should be comprised of protein which are strings of amino acids joined together like a train with many cars.

Read the full article Full Protein Article!

8 Ways to Make Pointe Pain-Free

By: The Dance World Editor

By: Rain Francis of Dance Informa

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If you’re a professional dancer wearing pointe shoes all day long, you may experience some pain with pointe work. However, it is possible for pointe to be pain-free, especially for the beginner. If you have your shoes fitted correctly, and achieve the right level of strength and mobility, you shouldn’t be experiencing any real pain. Rain Francis teamed up with renowned dance physical therapist Lisa Howell of Perfect Form Physiotherapy to bring you this list of 8 ways to make pointe pain-free.

1. Get the right shoes.

Correctly fitting pointe shoes are absolutely essential. Once your feet have stopped growing, and have found a shoe that works for you, it may be more convenient to purchase them online, but for anyone who is still growing and developing, and especially for your first few pairs, make sure you see an experienced pointe shoe fitter, who has access to a wide range of styles. If the shoe is fitted correctly, it will be firm around the front part of the foot but should not be squashing your toes in together too much, as this can lead to ingrown toenails. If the box of the shoe is too wide, the foot will slide down into the box while en pointe, putting pressure on the toes, which can lead to bruised toe nails. If the box is too short it can cut in under the joint of the big toe and may contribute to the formation of a bunion. Always ensure that the wings of the shoe come up to the level of your big toe joint. As everybody’s foot is different, there is no one perfect shoe that is right for all dancers, and it is essential that all students at a school have shoes that specifically fit their individual foot type, even if this means that they are in different brands.

2. Be prepared. 

Every student should undergo a pre-pointe assessment with a qualified practitioner, for example a physical therapist who specializes in dance, or a private lesson with a very experienced dance teacher. This is important to ensure that you have the required range and strength before you attempt pointe work. Otherwise, you risk injury and developing incorrect technique, which can take a long time to correct. Be patient – if you don’t pass your pointe assessment the first time around, listen to the advice from your assessor and work on all of the elements that are identified before your next assessment. It may only be another six weeks of sticking to your exercises before you are able to get your first pair of pointes! Refer to Lisa Howell’s The Perfect Pointe Book for some exercises that will really help with your preparation for pointe work.

3. Strengthen correctly.

Ask your teacher for a structured program to improve your strength en pointe gradually. It is not just about being up on pointe or down on flat – it’s imperative to learn how to really articulate the foot in the shoe in every single rise and every tendu. Working through a graduated rise and being able to control your lowering is the most essential part of pointe work and will improve your strength and technique while helping to prevent injuries. For more information on this, check out the My Beginner Pointe program that Lisa developed with ex Australian Ballet Principal Artist Vicki Attard.

4. Use the right shoe for your level.

The shoes you wear should be appropriate for your level of pointe work. As a beginner, while just working at the barre, a softer shoe will help you learn to articulate the foot correctly in the shoe. When you move into doing things like multiple turns in the center, a stronger, more rigid shoe may be more appropriate. As you progress further with your pointe work, you may find you need a few different pairs of shoes – a really supple one for barre work and softer, more Romantic solos; and a stronger, more stable one for center work, or stronger variations, which require multiple hops en pointe.

5. Look after your feet.

Foot hygiene is extremely important, yet often neglected. If you don’t clean your feet and take care of your pointe shoes properly, you’re at risk of all sorts of nasties, such as blisters, ingrown toenails and fungal infections. Treat your toe pads or ouch pouches like socks: Remove them from your shoes and wash them frequently. You sweat a lot through your feet and wearing the same dirty pair of toe pads every day without letting them dry out can be a direct road to pain! If blisters do develop, make sure you deal with them hygienically and cover them up for class rather than letting the raw skin rub on the inside of your pointes.

6. Use appropriate padding.

There are many different options on the market these days, but when choosing padding for your toes, look for something that has minimal fabric underneath the toes. Too much bulk here can interfere with the placment and working of the feet. Any padding you use should be minimal. The biggest issue with pain en pointe is usually due to the toes clawing in the shoe, and the knuckles rubbing on the underside of the box. Most dancers then feel they need to put something in place to stop the rubbing. However, it is much better to deal with the clawing in the first place, by developing the articulation of the foot and strength to the correct muscles to keep the toes long in the shoe. Clawing indicates the incorrect use of the long toe flexor muscles which can lead to problems in the back of the ankle, such as posterior impingement. If your toes are clawing, focus on learning how to articulate the foot better during all aspects of class.

7. Keep your shoes strong enough.

If you leave any padding in your shoes after dancing, the sweat may soften the glue of the box. This can cause the shoe to weaken and will result in your foot sinking down too far in the shoe. Always make sure to dry out your shoes thoroughly between each use, especially if you live somewhere that gets very humid. Having a couple of pairs that you cycle through during the week will help extend the life of the shoe, especially if you are dancing on pointe every day. You can also use a glue, such as Hot Stuff or Jet Glue to help re-stiffen the middle of the shank to extend its life. Also, each pointe shoe may have a few reincarnations; it may start off as a performance shoe, then become a class shoe, then a rehab/pointe exercise shoe, before finally the shank is pulled out and it becomes a demi pointe shoe for class work. Make sure you have shoes that are each stage, so you’re not using your stronger class shoes to do the really deep articulated exercises, especially when you’re doing more than 4 or 5 hours of pointe a week.

8. Pre-weaken your pointe shoes.

Pre-weakening (sometimes called ‘breaking in’) your new shoes in the areas you want it to weaken will help to stop it from breaking in the middle of the shank. It is important not to cut the shank, heat it or wet it; these things may have been done in the past but are simply not relevant any more. Pre-weaken the shank in the demi pointe area a little so that you can rise through it correctly, and also soften in underneath the heel so that the shank can sit in close to the arch when you are en pointe. You can check out a video on how to do this here. Just using your feet to weaken the shoes can cause them to break in the middle of the shank, which will make you start sinking down and back into the shoes, meaning you’ll need to replace them more often. The shape of everyone’s pointe is different, so measure where the breakpoint is in your foot (where the heel becomes the arch) then weaken the shank of the shoe at this point so that it sits flat against your arch. It will feel better, look better and can also help extend the life of your shoe.

Boss Ballet Barres

By: The Dance World Editor

From: Dance Informa

 

Boss Ballet BarresBoss Ballet Barres provides the strongest free-standing dance and fitness barres available in North America.  Popular with studio owners, schools and home-users alike, they are the first choice for some of the biggest names in dance and fitness.  Using a patented design and high-strength structural steel, all Boss Ballet Barres come with a Lifetime Guarantee. You will see our Barres in some of the most famous professional dance companies across the continent, as well as many colleges and universities.  From one of our smaller, affordable 4 and 6-foot Intermediate Barres, all the way up to our longest 14-foot Extended Boss Barre Pro series, every one of our barres is constructed from the highest-quality components, and individually inspected with care before shipping, every time.

Feel free to contact us any time at info@balletbarresonline.com, to discuss your barre needs.

12-Foot Extended Boss Barre Pro
Our 12ft (144 Inch) Extended Boss Barre Pro is a specially-engineered version of our Pro Barres. The latest design to come out of our R&D Department, a special process was created to add extreme tensile strength and deflection-resistance to the middle of the barre. This allowed us to eliminate a third upright leg in the center of the horizontal bars, and have very minimal “sag”, if any at all. Our Boss Barre Pro Series consists of our strongest barres, using a larger diameter tube than our Intermediate Barres, for maximum strength when being used by 10 dancers in a school or studio setting. This strength allows for extra durability in a daily-use environment, while the smooth powder-coated finish retains its appearance for many years. Already in use in schools and studios across North America, our Pro Barres are the premium choice for instructors, professionals and competitions.

 

Features

  • Designed for users from beginner to professional
  • Ultra-strong construction using structural steel tubes
  • Extremely easy to set-up and take down using only one tool (provided)
  • Choice of semi-gloss black or white powder coated finish
  • Great for home, small studio/school use
  • Wide-stance leg system for maximum stability12 Foot Ballet BarreBoss Ballet Barres
    1-888-301-6403info@balletbarresonline.com
    www.balletbarresonline.com

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.

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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.

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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

 

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

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!

Cozy Winter Wishes

By: Danielle Hernandez A Dance World Editor

This week’s picks are perfect for keeping warm in class this winter. Staying warm and properly warming up is crucial during the winter months as exerting cold muscles can lead to injury.  Here is a collection of some of our favorite pieces of warm ups and knitwear to add to your collection this season.

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Shadow Stripe Wrap Sweater and Shadow Stripe High Waist Shorts by KD Dance.

These 2 pieces are the perfect addition to any dancer’s wardrobe. Wear them as featured or pair one or both over a leotard and tights.

capezioromper

 

Capezio Long Sleeve Knit Romper

Nothing says Prima Ballerina like a classic looking romper. This Capezio romper features thumb hole and dolman sleeves.

jumpsuitsansha
Sansha Jumpsuit

 

 

Sansha Knit Jumpsuit

All dancers, especially ballet dancers need a great jumpsuit as part of their collection. The top can be folded over for a different look and it’s the perfect piece when warming up at the barre.

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Bloch Warm-up booties

These are a must have for any dancer- especially those taking multiple classes. These boots are incredibly warm, comfortable and can be worn alone or over your ballet and pointe shoes.

We’ve shared our favorites. Tell us which one you love! What is your go-to dance look this winter? Leave a comment.

 

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