How to Sew Point Shoes

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I got my first pair of pointe shoes at age 12. I was so excited to start dancing on pointe, until my teacher informed me that I had to sew the shoes myself. Sewing is definitely one of my lacking areas, so this was a challenge for me. However, with each new pair of pointe shoes I’ve had to sew over the past 6 years, I discovered ways to make the job easier and more efficient. Here are the steps that I follow when sewing pointe shoes:

1. Measure the elastic and ribbon and cut them in half.

2. Use clear nail polish to seal the edges of the ribbon and elastic so that it doesn’t fray.

3.Put the shoes on with the elastics and ribbons placed in the shoe.

4. Adjust the ribbons and laces so that they are positions to fit your foot and make light pen marks on the shoes and attachments where you wants them.

5. Take the shoes off and then use a pin to attach the ribbons in place.

6. Turn the shoe inside out so that you have room to move your hand.

7. Using dental floss (it is much stronger and will last longer than thread) sew your ribbons in place. Make sure you only go through the first layer of the shoe and not the outer layer. Also sew in the shape of X’s because it holds better.

8. Repeat this process with the elastics. Make sure you sew the elastics after the ribbons because the elastics would get in the way.

Wrong positioning of elastics and pulled ribbons are nothing new to me, not to mention everything I’ve sewn instantly ripping out and an occasional bloody finger. This is the refined process I have developed through my numerous mishaps.

pointe pointe1 pointe2

Getting to Know Mrs. Hoover

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Manheim Central High School added a dance enrichment option this year that does ballroom related dancing. The Spanish teacher, Mrs. Hoover, is also the dance enrichment teacher. She has many years of experience in a variety of dance fields and decided that dance was something she wanted to share with her students.

Mrs. Hoover’s Dancing Experience

In order to get a more in depth look at her involvement and experience with dance, I interviewed Mrs. Hoover. When asked what got her interested in dance, Mrs. Hoover said, “It looked fun and entertaining. I like to wear gowns.” She also shared about the lessons she has taken. She has received lessons from Pierre Dulain (founder of American Ballroom Theatre), Garry Gehkman (U.S Dance Show Champion and professional performer on Dancing with the Stars), and learned too do lifts while in NYC. Mrs. Hoover also said that she …”demos with a professional when he teaches group classes on workshops.”

Pierre Dulain

Pierre Dulain

Garry Gekhman

Garry Gekhman

Her experience with dance does not stop there, Mrs. Hoover has learned numerous different styles of dancing. She has had lessons in waltz, foxtrot, tango, quickstep, Viennese Waltz, hustle, swing (East Coast), cha cha, rumba, samba, bolero, mambo, salsa, merengue, paso doble, and theatre arts. When asked what kind of dance was her favorite to do she responded, “I prefer waltz, fox trot, tango, quickstep, and Viennese Waltz, as well as hustle.” She also said,  “Hustle is fun and freeing. The other dances can have an elegant look. Lifts can easily be incorporated into waltz and foxtrot.” When asked what her favorite kind of dance to watch was, she said, “I love to watch quickstep. It is very quick, animated and elegant. There are intricate moves that are creative.” She also explained that she is equally enthralled by theatre arts because of the incorporation of lifts. Mrs. Hoover’s final question was about what types of dance she has not learned, but would like to learn. She expressed that she is content with all the styles she already knows, but would like to become more advanced in the styles she already knows. She said, “I’d like to work on those dances beyond the gold level.” She concluded by saying that watching professionals motivates and inspires her to reach new goals.

Waltz

Waltz

Salsa

Salsa

What do I Think?

Personally, I am impressed with Mrs. Hoover’s dance experience. Although I have dabbled in ballroom dancing, it definitely is not my area of expertise. So, I  find it interesting to learn about someone who, like me, has a lot of dance experience, but in a different area. Overall, I think Mrs. Hoover is well versed in dance and it’s awesome that she wants to share that with her students. They could learn a lot from her.

Mrs. Hoover has a lot of experience and love for dancing. She has learned a vast variety of styles and has learned from a few different professionals. She is inspired and motivated to work harder to become better at what she does. Overall, I think that adding the dance enrichment was a good choice.

Dancing Opportunities at Manheim Central High School

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Manheim Central High School offers few dancing opportunities to students. Every Friday each gym class has “Dance Fridays” where the students learn simple dances as an alternative option to traditional warm-ups. The school has also recently added Salsa dancing. It is taught by one of the Spanish teachers and is an enrichment option for students. Aside from in school opportunities, Manheim attempted to create a dance team about 3 years ago, but it flopped. Overall, Manheim does not offer much in terms of dancing.

What do the Students Think?

After interviewing 4 Manheim students, it was obvious that they like having the opportunity to learn simple dances and that they would be open to trying other kinds of dancing that the school has to offer. When junior, Danaca Peck, was asked if she enjoyed dance Fridays she responded, “Yes, because it’s something different than any other day.” Seniors, Megan Fessler and Morgan Becker also said they also like dance Fridays. They appreciate having a day off from warm-ups to do something different and fun. When asked if they find Dance Fridays to be challenging, the students had varying responses. Senior, Andrew Seiverling, said,

“They are challenging depending on the dance, especially Footloose.” Morgan answered,

“Some of the dances are easy and some are difficult because of the quick movements.” Danaca and Megan both thought that overall the dances were slightly challenging, but that the level of difficulty varies from dance to dance. The students were also asked if they would consider participating in the school’s new Salsa dancing enrichment. Although all of the students commented that their knowledge base about Salsa was very slim, they all were open to trying it, except for Andrew because he prefers to relax during his advisory period. The final question for the students was about what kind of dance they think our school should offer. All the of the girls agreed that Manheim should offer hip-hop. Megan said that the school should offer

…”Hip-Hop because it’d be fun and I think people might do it and enjoy it.” Similarly, Morgan responded,

“Hip-Hop because it is more up to date and people would probably enjoy it and have fun.” For the most part, the students seemed to enjoy the minimal dancing offered at Manheim and would like it if the school had more dance available for students to take.

Traditional Salsa Dancing

Traditional Salsa Dancing

Traditional Hip-Hop Dancing

Traditional Hip-Hop Dancing

What do I Think?

Just like these students, I also enjoy Dance Fridays. I’d prefer dancing over running any day. However, unlike the students, I find the Dance Friday routines to be painstakingly simple and repetitive. I would prefer something a little more challenging, but of course understand that very few people have dance experience and the gym teachers aren’t dance teachers. I would also be open to trying the Salsa dancing enrichment. I have already tried a few Salsa dancing classes and thought it was fun and lively. Additionally, I think that the girls are right when they say people would like taking hip-hop. It’s fun and up-to-date. I’d say that overall, Manheim lacks a little in the area of dance and that they should add more dancing opportunities for students.

It’s obvious that not only students enjoy the dancing opportunities offered at Manheim, but would prefer to have more. Manheim is definitely lacking in the dance department and that the popularity of dance Fridays and open-mindedness to new kinds of dance is an indicator that they should offer more.

Dance Injury Stories

About a month ago Broadway was showing the musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” During a Thursday night performance, Daniel Curry, one of the dancers, was seriously injured. According to the production team his leg got caught in technical equipment. A member of the audience said that his leg appeared to be pinned in a trap door and that he let out a scream. A privacy screen was brought out as a hole was cut in the stage floor in order to release his leg. They stopped the performance and canceled the following show. They believed that the computerized equipment had malfunctioned or that human error was to blame. The details following the dancer’s recovery following the injury was not released.

I actually found this story to be a little surprising. I’ve never heard of anything like this happening in dance. I usually hear about dance injures that are twisting an ankle, pulling a  or a small fracture. Although, the type of dancing I do usually doesn’t involve any trap doors or major props.

This story reminds me an injury that I witnessed while dancing. However, the injury that I witnessed was less severe and was not during a performance. Also the injury was sustained because the dancer made a mistake.

One evening last fall my lyrical class was rehearsing a routine. About a minute into our routine, we heard a startlingly loud “thud”. The whole class halted and quickly noticed our classmate, Jourdan, lying unconscious on the ground. We checked her pulse and tried to wake her. Everyone was nervous, trying not to panic as we hovered over our knocked-out classmate. After a few minutes she opened her eyes and looked around the room in confusion. The ambulance had been called prior to her waking.

We learned that Jourdan had a grade 2 concussion. She was not able to come back to dance class for a month, had bad headaches and was not permitted to drive. After her return, she told us that her injury was the result of a quickly executed turn. She explained that she was behind the counts in the music and began rushing. She attempted a difficult turn at a very fast pace and lost her balance.

Even though Jourdan was okay, it was still a very concerning event. Jourdan was pretty fortunate. She could have been injured much worse depending on where and how she fell. Little accidents like this can happen all the time in dance, and dancers need to be cautious not to be careless, especially when executing tricky steps.

My 8 Favorite Dance Moves

Although I love dancing in general, there are some moves that I’m more fond of than others. My partiality is mostly derived from my ability to execute the move. My 8 favorite dance moves include:

1. Chaines

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpnAOPYgjS8

Although these are very simple turns, they are my favorite. I can do them well, fast and often use them as a catalyst for other moves.

2. Wings

The tap step was challenging to learn, but as I mastered them I became more fond of them and began doing different forms. I like to experiment with one footed wings, ripple wings and crossed wings.

3. Saut De ChatimagesCAIF9O4T

The saut de chat is by far my favorite kind of leap. I strive to gain as much power as I can before executing a saut de chat so that I can get lots of height.

4. Double Pickup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7wHeJYnZZY

This is also an advanced tap step. At first, these frustrated me. However, now that I’ve gotten better at making all of my sounds, I like the “horse-trot” sound this step produces.

5. Piqueuntitled

This quick, pricking movement is one of my favorite steps to do on pointe. They are simple, quick, and great for building ankle strength.

6. Figurate

bodies_in_motion_II_ballet

This move is basic, but very pretty. It acts as a nice transition into an extension and can always spice up a kick. I like using them in a warm up or in choreography.

7. Weave imagesCACYO7WF

This is a tap step comprised a flap, front shuffle, step, toe punch, heel and another step. This is not an official tap step that is widely known among dancers, but something my old dance teacher made up. I like adding it into my routines to give them a little personal touch.

8. Fouette Turns

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58tlZTTYUTo

These ballet turns are highly challenging, especially when done on pointe. Although they frustrate me at times, they are very pretty and look great when done in a group (as long as the group is in harmony of course).

Magliore’s Recycled Piece Fails?

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Last Friday there was a performance at City Center’s Studio 5. Miro Magloire’s New Chamber Ballet had a typical show. Although the show was trademark for the ballet, it differs greatly from the vast majority of ballets. Magloire uses live music, no theatrical lighting and no sets. He also starts his performances with the dancers sitting next to the pianist on the pianist’s bench. The highlight of the show was a new rendition from  his 2007 entitled, “Klavierstück.” The piece was said to have choppy phrases and lacking continuity. Magloire was criticized for too much restraint.

More Info

More About Miro Magliore

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I think that this was a learning experience for Magliore. He is well known and respected and usually doesn’t get a bad rap. He might have been trying something new and it just didn’t work out. However, I still think he’s a very talented choreographer/ composer and this performance was probably just an experiement gone wrong.

This article is relevant to Manheim Central students because of the principles involved. Even someone as popular and talented as Miro Magliore have failures. Every successful person has to fail in order to learn how to be successful. This is important for not only students, but people in general to remember.

Trick of the Quick Change

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Executing quick changes during performances can be challenging. The disarray of costumes, tights, makeup, headpieces, bobby pins, etc. can become quite a mess in a short amount of time. Ruth Brill, Birmingham Royal Ballet artist, gives some not-so-typical advice when it comes to quick changes. She says that the key to a successful quick change is trusting yourself. Quick changes can be very stressful. According the Ruth, remaining calm, methodical and readily equipped is the key. She even advises rehearsing quick changes as if it were choreography. She says that she likes to enjoy being onstage and doesn’t want costuming to interfere with that joy.

More Quick Change AdviceScreen-shot-2013-06-12-at-4_43_10-PM

More About Ruth Brill

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I think that this information is very helpful for dancers. I know from personal experience that organization and practice can help with quick changes. However, I never really though about the fact that trusting yourself and staying calm also play a significant role in a successful quick change. I agree that being stressed out over costuming can take away from the experience of preforming and this advice is very helpful.

This article may not relate directly to Manheim central students, but the principle of Brill’s advice is applicable to all. Trusting yourself and staying calm can be helpful in almost any situation. Stress can take away from any positive experience. Therefore, stress reducers like these are good to keep in mind.

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A Style of His Own

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This past weekend the BEAT Festival was held in its typical location site of downtown Brooklyn. The performance featured choreography from two different sources. The choreography was starkly different. One of the choreographers, Yanira Castro, had a piece entitled “Nancy”. The piece was very orderly and structured with four different versions. On the other hand, Storyboard P., a native Brooklyn street dancer, had dances that were completely interpretive. He doesn’t even believe in choreography and refers to his style as “mutant”. Many saw his format as strange.

More Info

More about BEAT Festival

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I find this to be very interesting. I have heard a lot about alternative dance because it’s been gaining recent popularity. However, I have never heard about a professional choreographer claiming to have their own style of dance and giving it an new name. It’s especially interesting because technically this style of dance would fall under the alternative category. This shows that Storyboard P. values the uniqueness of his choreography and wants to be different. I think it inspires creativity.

This article could be relevant to any Manheim Central students that are dancers or have an interest in the arts in general. Even for students who could care less about dance, this story has value for them too. It definitely inspires creativity and thinking outside of the box regardless of what others think.

My Dance Experience

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My name is Alyssa, and I’ve been dancing for 13 out of the 17 years of my life. I started out taking ballet and tap classes. As my love for dancing grew, I began expanding my horizons. I started taking lyrical, jazz, hip hop and ballroom.  I even dabbled in acrobatics. Now, I focus on ballet, pointe, lyrical, tap and jazz. I have 5 years of competition experience and have been involved in 2 dance companies. the company I’m now a part of does benefit performances and annual recitals.

I’m creating this blog simply because I love dance and my experiences have given me a solid knowledge base.