5 Non-Slip Socks for Contemporary Class

Oh, socks: What are we gonna do with you? Many dancers—ourselves definitely included—have a love-hate relationship with this unassuming member of the footwear family. On the one hand, they feel oh-so-essential for pulling off endless turns in contemporary class. On the other hand, we've heard our fair share of horror stories from fellow dancers of catastrophic slips that led directly to serious injuries. Then what's a dancer to do? We're so glad you asked.


Below are five of our favorite dancer socks that won't let you down (literally or figuratively).


Behold, comp kid Carter Williams rocking Apolla Performance's Infinite Shocks. Apolla Shocks come with traction that starts out feeling sticky but can be "broken in" to your desired level of slip versus grip.


For all the minimalists out there, ToeSox's Relevé Half Toe makes effortless turns, well, effortless—all powered by organic cotton and minimal fuss.



Don't let the humble appearance of Capezio Extends fool you. These machine-washable bad boys boast a polyurethane outsole that works on a variety of surfaces, while the stretch nylon/spandex fabrication miraculously maintains that elusive barefoot feeling.



Discount Dance Supply's Natalie padded turn socks in Cherry (via discountdance.com)

Headed to a convention weekend? You'll want to pack the Natalie padded turn socks from Discount Dance Supply. Their cushioned ball of the foot is the answer to the prayer of dancers faced with carpet's unforgiving nature as a dance surface.


Valentine Pajtler, a dancer and business student in southern France, is the perfect model for Repetto's anti-slippery socks. They're clutch for warming up and doing floor barre.

Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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Teachers Trending

From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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