Students need strong feet for pointe work, but few concentrate on their toes specifically. "Fatigue sets in and they start knuckling," says Atlanta Ballet podiatrist Dr. Frank Sinkoe. This puts excess pressure on the nails, causing bruising. The exercises below strengthen the arch and intrinsic muscles, which flex the toes and support the feet.
Do you have new preschool students enrolling in a second wave of enrollment this month?
For students under the age of five, the first day of dance class can be exciting and full of anxiety for both the parent and the child. Teachers want to set the stage for an easy, happy, and memorable first day of dance. The following methods may seem simple, but you have to remember that even the smallest details can throw off a three-year-old.
Melecio Estrella, the associate artistic director of Oakland, California–based vertical dance company BANDALOOP, has been an aerial dancer for 15 years. With aerial dance becoming increasingly popular, Estrella shares five things to consider before jumping into an apparatus and up into the sky.
This sequence takes dancers through several foundational poses of the Giordano jazz technique. These positions aren't stagnant—they flow together with continuous energy. Nan Giordano stresses that the dancer's powerful gaze is quintessential to authentic technique. "That's my dad's look—the Giordano eyes," she says. "All the intensity comes through the eyes, focusing and imagining, but not seeing anything."
Utah Dance Artists owner Brooke Maxwell remembers a mom calling to talk about the discomfort her 14-year-old daughter felt each time her ballroom teacher asked her to demonstrate. The mother pleaded with Maxwell to keep her daughter's name confidential when speaking with the teacher, because she didn't want to cause her child more unwanted attention. What was most surprising is that the dancer had been singled out in a positive way—because she paid attention and worked hard. Sensitivity, Maxwell realized, can come in unexpected forms. "When it comes to students being sensitive in class, the only way we can help is to have an open conversation," she says.
These types of situations can be tough to navigate, especially when students are nervous to express how they're feeling. Maybe they have anxiety when they're singled out or cry because they feel frustrated in class—or they're scared to leave their caregiver at the door to the studio. Paramount to easing sensitivity issues is to first correctly identify the source of the problem. Then, teachers can work with dancers in a way that is both gentle and effective, helping them overcome sensitivities and enjoy a positive experience in the studio.
Grace Holmes, director of Kansas City Ballet School, doesn't incorporate gargouillade into her class very often. "I usually teach it as a trick fun step, a dessert or treat for the kids," she says. The uncommon ballet step (gargouillade means "rumbling" or "bubbling" in French) requires intricate footwork mid-jump: a small pas de chat with both feet doing double rond de jambe en l'air. Traditionally a step for women, gargouillade is usually part of a petit allégro combination or a fast variation. When it's done well, it can be a flashy step that surprises audiences and highlights a dancer's combined mastery of articulation, speed, coordination and ballon.