Ode to the Pointe Shoe

"decorated pointe shoes" is licensed CC BY 2.0

“decorated pointe shoes” is licensed CC BY 2.0


Corina Chan - Adult dancerWe asked you to submit a poem of love for your pointe shoes and we weren’t disappointed! Thank you for your submissions. Our featured poet is Corina Chan.

Corina performs with Kathy Mata Ballet, a volunteer-based dance company. Their mission is to provide free shows at senior citizen facilities in San Francisco for seniors who may not otherwise have opportunities to enjoy dance performances. The motto of our company is “Dance is for Everyone.” This idea is true for both audiences and dancers, as Corina did not start her dance training until her mid 30s. In dance, as in all important matters in life, better late than never.

Without further ado, Corina’s Ode to the Pointe Shoe:


Ode to the Pointe ShoeOde to the Pointe Shoe


How do I love you?

Let me count the ways.


I love you out of the box, so shiny, pink, and new

I love you with every pique, pirouette, tendu


Second skin of my feet, keeper of my sole

Every step I take, your virtues I extol


The lines you draw, the patterns you trace

At the barre and in the center, you fill a sacred space


Adorned with ribbon like a satin-wrapped prize

Hiding within elegance the pain you disguise


I love you in class, in rehearsal, and on stage

Treasure beyond measure, my spirits you raise


My road to ballet is paved with blood, sweat and tears

You are my companion persistent through the years


Vertical suspension, the summit of my desire

You beneath me, the wings beneath my fire


From toil and struggle, the suffering for your sake

Comes dance so joyous, ever-worthy to create


Do you have dance poetry you’d like to share?

Leave a link or submit it to us. Your poem may be published, too!


Ballet Primer: The Legend of Love

Tomorrow afternoon, Bolshoi Ballet will kick off a season of special events in movie theaters all over the U.S.

They are leading with the ballet The Legend of Love, which, I admit, I knew very little about. How about you?

Bolshoi Ballet - The Legend of Love in Cinemas

I figured we might all need a little primer before heading out to the Sunday matinée. So, here’s what I found out:


A Hint of History

The Legend of Love premiered for the first time in 1961 in St Petersburg at the Kirov Theatre (now Mariinsky) and then in Moscow for the first time in 1965. The cast in this premiere in Moscow featured international superstar Maya Plisetskaya as Mekhmene Banu; prima ballerina, Natalia Bessmertnova as Shyrin; and celebrated male dancer, Maris Liepa as Ferkhad.

The Legend of Love is choreographed by Russian master, Yuri Grigorovich. It is one of his earliest ballets (preceded by The Stone Flower) and secured his promise and status as a famous choreographer, helping to launch a 30-year career as artistic director of Bolshoi Ballet.


What’s the Story?

The royal apartments of Queen Mekhmene Banu are plunged into mourning – her younger sister, Princess Shyrin, is dying. The Princess will only be saved if the Queen gives Shyrin her beauty. The Queen decides to sacrifice herself, but later regrets her action when she is disfigured and Shyrin falls in love with the Queen’s own lover, the painter Ferkhad.

The overriding theme of The Legend of Love is self-sacrifice. In the story each character sacrifices something. Mekhmene sacrifices her beauty for her dying sister Shyrin. Ferkhad sacrifices his love for Shyrin in order to save the people of his land from thirst. Shyrin gives up her love for Ferkhad, realizing that his mission is more important.


One-day Only Broadcast

The performance of The Legend of Love you’ll see in theaters is captured earlier the same day from Moscow. This live broadcast stars prima ballerina, Svetlana Zakharova as Queen Mekhmene Banu, and soloists Anna Nikulina as Shyrin, and Denis Rodkin as Ferkhad.

Zakharova was born in Ukraine and grew up studying at the Vaganova School in St. Petersburg where she graduated. She quickly was given leading roles at Kirov Theatre before joining the Bolshoi as Principal Dancer several years later. This is the first time she is dancing in this role.

The sets, which open up almost like a book on the stage, were designed by Simon Virsaladze, one of Yuri Grigorovich’s frequent and most favorite collaborators.

The Legends of Love showing is on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 at 12:55 p.m. ET / 11:55 a.m. CT / 10:55 a.m. MT and tape-delayed to 12:55 p.m. PT/AK/HI

Find out where to see the ballet at a theater near you.

Disclosure – Dance Advantage receives compensation for promoting this series

Ballet Competitions On the Go

Whether you are a pre-professional ballet student, a young professional in the early stages of your career, or an instructor coaching classical ballet-hopefuls, ballet competitions are definitely on your radar.

Dancers at the Genée International Ballet Competition

Genée International Ballet Competition 2013, Photo by Andy Ross

These international events afford invaluable opportunities: to hone skills with renowned teachers and choreographers, to gain increased performance experience, and in some cases, to earn medals, scholarships and contracts. But international ballet competitions are about more than the final results; more than the bragging rights; more than the prizes. They are artistic journeys, where technical excellence, creative growth, and life-long connections can be cultivated.

And not just for participants, the competition circuit is also for the serious ballet enthusiast; a platform where the up-and-coming talent in the world of classical dance is featured.

Ballet Competitions Around the World

Over a dozen different ballet competitions happen throughout the calendar year, around the globe.

The USA International Ballet Competition will soon return to Jackson, Mississippi.

Varna International Ballet Competition runs for the second half of July in Bulgaria;

February in Switzerland means the Prix de Lausanne.

And the Youth America Grand Prix is held in various locations throughout the US (and internationally) during the Winter/Spring months.

This list would not be complete without mention of the Royal Academy of Dance’s Genée International Ballet Competition.

One of the longest running international ballet competitions, this year’s highly anticipated program will be held in Antwerp, Belgium from September 18th to the 27th. Though the 2014 Genée is still four months away, the 2013 Genée app allows you to start gearing up now.

Genée On the Go

A free download from RAD’s Dance Gazette, the 2013 Genée app gives a detailed inside look at last year’s competition on your smart phone or tablet. Join the dancers, directors, choreographers and judges as they progress through the historic two-week intensive program.

Arranged in calendar form, each page of the Genée app reads like a live journal, documenting one particular phase of the competition – the arrivals, class, semi-finals, rehearsals and the concluding medals ceremony. Each ‘entry’ gives comprehensive information about eight highlighted Genée topics; details, descriptions and context through written blurbs, video clips, and collections of gorgeous still photos.

Additional background, historic data and other specifics can be found by clicking on the ‘read more’ or ‘factfile’ buttons in the bottom right-hand corner of each individual page.

Day 2 travels “In The Studio” as the fifty-eight participants work to perfect their classical variations; Day 6 (“Dancer’s Own”) showcases work on original choreographic solos, a new category in the Genée competition; and in Day 10’s “The Final”, twelve remaining competitors perform in the 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition’s culminating concert.

This fun, engaging and educational format allows a rare glimpse into the dancers’ story, the choreographic and coaching process, as well as the overall Genée adventure.

From the user perspective, the 2013 Genée app is straightforward and easy to navigate. In fact, the first page you encounter (following the digital front cover) provides a helpful tutorial – clear and precise instructions describing how the app works and how to guide yourself through it.

Just one minor sound issue requires mention. The video sound is adjusted using your mobile device’s volume controls. But the ringer/sound effect switch must also be in the ‘on’ position for full audio access to the video excerpts. While this may seem obvious, many programs still run at full volume even when your ringer/sound effect switch is off, so a more pointed reference would have been helpful.

Genée International Ballet Competition

Dance & Technology

This is an exciting time for dance and technology; the relationship between the two is in a constant state of growth, development and innovation.

It would be wonderful to see any number of the international ballet competitions in person, but that’s just not possible for everyone. Modern tools, like the Royal Academy of Dance’s 2013 Genée app, allow broad, general access to these and other types of performing arts events. These new virtual applications bring with them opportunity and possibility; unique and different perspectives. But most important, they offer yet another invitation to connect with dance and choreography.

The 2013 Genée app is currently available for download in the app store of your smart phone or tablet.

Dance Commentary by Heather DesaulniersHeather Desaulniers is a freelance writer, critic and dance historian based in Oakland. Her article “Archiving Dance – The Necessity of Collaboration” was recently published in Bourgeon: Fifty Artists Write About Their Work. She is the dance curator for sfarts.org, a frequent contributor to “In Dance” magazine and the SF/Bay Area columnist for criticaldance.org. Visit her blog at heatherdance.com.


Reel Deal: Ace Your Video Audition

Nel Shelby Productions is a New York City videography company with extensive experience in dance-specific video production. In an earlier interview, Nel Shelby gave Dance Advantage readers tips on How To Make a Video to Market A Dance Studio.

In their search to find more ways to help dancers and choreographers, Nel Shelby Productions has discovered there is high demand for filming and editing excellent quality audition videos for dancers looking to attend summer dance intensives, enroll in college dance departments and conservatories, and even send video samples of their dancing to professional performing companies.

So of course, we want to know how to make the best audition video possible and asked Nel Shelby Productions for their best advice.

Making Your Dance Audition Video

Image courtesy M4D Group

Don’t get too fancy with your dance audition video

Most dance schools, programs and companies would prefer to see a one-camera video shoot rather than two-cameras.

Two-camera edits involve putting together multiple angles, and the choices made about showing your dancing from certain angles may seem suspicious… “Why did they cut to a close-up of her torso there?” “Was she off-balance on releve?”

You don’t want to look like you’re hiding something.

Let them see you in the best light

Film the audition material in a relatively clean space with great light.

Nel Shelby Productions brings their own lighting equipment to every studio they film auditions. You never know if you’ll have enough natural light, and it’s very important the dance program or audition judges can see you.

Bring a coach

Shelby always reminds clients who are creating audition reels to bring a teacher or coach. After all, they can make sure you look great on camera, but your videographers don’t know the choreography or variations. Bringing an additional set of eyes, already familiar with the movement material, helps you get the most out of your session.

Practice makes perfect video

Dancers should come fully prepared with all variations, exercises and choreography set and well-rehearsed for their audition video shoot. Warming up and setting hair and make-up before the session is also important.

Talk to your videographer

Many dancers need a quick turnaround in video delivery for auditions and other applications. Nel Shelby Productions says they need to know the application requirements and deadlines before you film your dancing so they can work with clients and plan accordingly to deliver their dance video as fast as possible.

Talk over the dance audition guidelines with your video team, too. Things like: how variations should be ordered on the DVD, or if a menu is necessary to navigate through to specific chapters of your audition.

A Dance Audition Video Example:

Watch an excerpt of Brittany Shinay’s dance audition video made by Nel Shelby Productions.

Nel Shelby Productions

Learn more about Nel Shelby Productions and get occasional video tips by signing up for her newsletter.

3 Keys to Creating a Successful Dance Film

How to Survive Your First Dance Film ProjectYou’ve been choreographing for the stage for some time, but something inside you says it’s time to make a film.  But how?

Boston choreographer Anna Reyes is currently editing her debut film, “the good parts of being alive“.  Inspired by the portraits of painter Egon Schiele, the film explores how relationships are molded by time and space.

The Good Parts of Being AliveReflecting on the production process now, Reyes shares three tips for choreographers embarking on their first film.

1.  Plan as much as you can.

By planning ahead, you can avoid most last-minute adjustments and emergencies, which were the cause of the most stress for Reyes.  “There’s nothing wrong with thinking you might have to shoot in a year or a year and a half, if that means you already have the funds for your dancers and you’ve already secured the location where you’re going to shoot,” she says.  While details like film locations may be difficult to envision when you’ve only just started choreographing, lock down as many arrangements as you can.  When you do start to film, you’ll be glad that you can focus on the dance.

That being said…

2.  Be flexible with what’s available to you.

“It occurred to me that making a film is a lot more ‘control freak’ than making live performance.”  Nevertheless, there were many times when Reyes’ control “flew out the window” – from unexpected rain to conflicting schedules to adjusting choreography to accommodate fit the dancers who were available, Reyes met a number of unpredictable troubles head-on.

“As much as you plan, there are going to be things that are totally unexpected that come up, and you’ll have to make a split-second decision.”  Knowing that things might not go according to plan will prepare you to make those decisions.

3.  Be nice to yourself. 

“The process is going to be really hard, and if you’re beating yourself up while you’re doing it, it’ll make it a lot worse.”  Inner criticisms and self-doubts plague us all, but you can’t afford to disparage yourself for every little imperfection.  If you mess up, or if something doesn’t go the way you thought it would, remember that you are doing the absolute best you can, and cut yourself some slack!

For Reyes, film is the future of dance – most audience members spend more time with YouTube and DVDs than at live performances.  Though she has starred in a handful of films, “the good parts of being alive” is the first production that she has produced herself.

So would she do it again?  Absolutely.

“The majority of my life that I have choreographed, it has all been for stage, and I love that, but for me, film is really exciting.  As much as it can be stress-inducing, I really love it.”

Rachel Elizabeth MaleyRachel Elizabeth Maley is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Chicago.  She writes being human today and collaborates with artists to tell their unique stories.  Connect with Rachel on Twitter.

Choreographer, Anna ReyesAnna Reyes is a dancer and choreographer based in Boston. She began her dance training in Austin, Texas, and studied at the Boston Conservatory, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in Dance Performance. Reyes has presented her choreography in both New York City and Boston, where she also founded Synesthetic – a cross-disciplinary improvisation project – with jazz musician Jordan Maley. She has starred in films by Tamara Al-Mashouk and Hubbard/Birchler, and her debut film, “the good parts of being alive”, will be released in Autumn of 2014. Reach out to Anna on Twitter.