Dance Teacher Tips
Susannah Israel-Marchese with students at School of Ballet Hartford; photo by Frank Marchese, courtesy of SBH

At Michigan Ballet Academy, artistic director Irina Vassileni meets with a group of eager young students and their parents. She holds a shiny new pair of pointe shoes in one hand and an old, worn pair in the other. "I show them all the details, inside and out, and how working on pointe for hours will break down the shoe," says Vassileni. "I might even bring in different models and talk about how they're made. Parents need a lot of information to make them feel comfortable about their children going on pointe."

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Dance News
Flamenco students at Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba. Photo by Toba Singer

Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba's downtown Havana studios are on a plaza where you see few tourists. A historic landmark, the building is now where 1,300 dance students learn the Cubanismo style, 30 of them in its academic program. Artistic director Lizt Alfonso trained in classical ballet at Cuba's National School of the Arts, but not endowed with what Cubans call condiciones, a "ballet body," she dreamed of putting all Cuban dance styles onstage in one evening. To critics, her project was overreaching, but Alfonso turned a deaf ear to the word "can't."

Laura Alonso, respected teacher and daughter of eponymous ballet figures Alicia and Fernando Alonso, liked her idea. Having hired Alfonso to teach, Alonso also provided her rehearsal space. Cuba's then-President Fidel Castro saw a performance, and enthusiastic, intervened to remodel the building Alfonso wanted. Besides studios, the building, with its brightly painted walls, has a costume shop, classrooms, a cafeteria, gym, recording studio and offices, and a terrace café. From LADC, specialists in dance, music, costume and stagecraft send company tours to New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Las Vegas and Tel Aviv.

I asked Alfonso how the school is organized.

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Dance News
Photo by Rachel Papo

When Monica Stephenson was a student at Houston Ballet Academy, she was cast as Lauren Anderson's swan double in Swan Lake. The role was just a few walks in Odile's tutu and a veil as the scene changed, but it was a thrill for the 18-year-old Stephenson. Anderson, one of the few principal ballerinas of color, was the inspiration for Stephenson to attend Houston Ballet Academy.

For the role, wardrobe gave Stephenson a few pairs of Anderson's special-order pointe shoes that were brown to match her skin tone. "That really helped me," Stephenson says. "I wound up wearing her specs my entire career. Sometimes people don't realize when they're impacting a young person."

Stephenson never forgot what it meant to have a role model like Anderson. She knew she'd want to inspire ballet students of color herself someday.

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Dance News
Australian Ballet in rehearsal during World Ball Day. Photo by Kate Longely, Courtesy Australian Ballet.

For the last few years, World Ballet Day has transfixed millions of ballet lovers with its hours and hours of live-streamed classes, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes extras from major companies around the globe. (We here at Pointe certainly don't get any work done!) The 2018 edition is right around the corner—but things will be a bit different this time, especially for ballet fans in the Western Hemisphere.

For one thing, WBD is only 12 hours this year, and you'll need to prepare for losing a full night's sleep—or perhaps plan a fun slumber party—to enjoy live coverage. Hosted by Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and The Royal Ballet, streaming begins on WBD's Facebook page in Melbourne on October 2 and ends at 5 pm London time. However, for folks in North America, that means 9pm EST/6pm PST on Monday, October 1 through 12pm EST/9am PST on October 2. In past years, the National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet helped host the event, but they are not participating this time (which may explain the shorter schedule).

You can see the full schedule and get updates by joining WBD's Facebook event. And if you miss your favorite company live (or simply don't feel like pulling an all-nighter), don't worry: you can always go back and watch a full replay on their Facebook page during normal daylight hours.

Editor's List: The Goods
via @discountdance on Instagram

"Ballet pink" tights and palest-pink slippers. "Nude" fabrics that match only the lightest of skin tones. Unfortunately, many dancewear staples have historically been available only in a single "flesh tone" that tended to exclude non-Caucasian dancers.

Thankfully, in recent years dancewear companies have begun to respond to this issue, offering more varied shades of tights, pointe shoes, body tights, etc. (One former Knicks City Dancer even made inclusiveness the foundation of her business model.) Now, you can also get foundation garments that suit your unique skin tone with the new Mariia True Bare Collection.

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via @discountdance on Instagram

"Ballet pink" tights and palest-pink slippers. "Nude" fabrics that match only the lightest of skin tones. Unfortunately, many dancewear staples have historically been available only in a single "flesh tone" that tended to exclude non-Caucasian dancers.

Thankfully, in recent years dancewear companies have begun to respond to this issue, offering more varied shades of tights, pointe shoes, body tights, etc. (One former Knicks City Dancer even made inclusiveness the foundation of her business model.) Now, you can also get foundation garments that suit your unique skin tone with the new Mariia True Bare Collection.

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Just for fun

In case you missed it, our favorite actress/dance fangirl Jennifer Garner hit the studio this weekend to brush up on her technique (stars, they really are just like us). And the end result might be even better than Garner's #TutuTuesday posts. At the request of American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, Garner took to her Instagram story to participate in Lil Buck's #GoinInCirclesChallenge.

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Just for fun
Why yes, we did just photoshop Jennifer Garner's head onto our 2017 cover with Isabella Boylston.

In case you missed it, our favorite actress/dance fangirl Jennifer Garner hit the studio this weekend to brush up on her technique (stars, they really are just like us). And the end result might be even better than Garner's #TutuTuesday posts. At the request of American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, Garner took to her Instagram story to participate in Lil Buck's #GoinInCirclesChallenge.

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