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."
Q: A student's parents insist their daughter is strong enough for pointe, but our ballet teacher says she's not ready. They want to take her to another studio that promised they'd put her on pointe. What should I do?
(From left) Misty Copeland, Ebony Williams, and Ashley Murphy in pancaked shoes (photo by Nathan Sayers)
No two pairs of pointe shoes are the same, from their shanks to their boxes, their color to their shine. To make an array of shoes more uniform or to get them to a shade closer to your skin tone, dance teachers might ask that you "pancake" your pointe shoes before going onstage. But what does that entail, exactly? We're here to show you.
Looking for your next audition shoe? Shot at and in collaboration with Broadway Dance Center, Só Dança has launched a new collection of shoes working with some pretty famous faces of the musical theater world! Offered in two different styles and either 2.5" or 3" heels, top industry professionals are loving how versatile and supportive these shoes are! Pro tip: The heel is centered under the body so you can feel confident and stable!
Teacher Kelby Brown (left) with a student at BDC. Photo via Brown's Instagram
If you're looking to find new teaching jobs or just expand your reach as a teacher, look no further than your Instagram account. Developing a digital voice that connects with studios and dancers is an easy (and cost-free) strategy to boost your profile.
"Instagram has definitely shined a spotlight on my gifts as a teacher," says Kelby Brown, who's taught for American Ballet Theatre and at conventions like The PULSE.
"I have had many inquiries about teaching master classes or being asked to be on faculty at different schools. It has also kept dance competitions in the know and reminds them to bring me out as a judge and educator."
Wearing ballet slippers with satin ribbons attached, young girls practice relevé facing the barre, while Martha Goodman of Atlanta Ballet's Centre for Dance Education makes adjustments. She sees that each child has proper placement before moving on to the next exercise. “Everything should be clean, neat and correct," she says. Students must complete a full year of this detailed work before they receive their first pair of pointe shoes.