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What Toe Pads Do You Use?

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My feet after an Etudes Rehearsal

Ouch, ouch, ouch! Pointe shoes can most defiantly hurt your toes. Once you feel toe pain in a rehearsal, it’s all you can think about. You can’t escape the pain until the “boots” come off.

It does get better as you get used to it. Your feet form callus’s and your nails start to be, “ok” with the pressure. You slowly build up stamina to make it through a 4, 6 or even 8 hour rehearsal and show day!

The lucky ballerinas, are those who don’t even wear toe pads and have no pain with their toes. Wow. That’s like a super power. I am so impressed.

I, unfortunately, am not one of those ballerinas. For me, it is my toe nails. Especially my big toe nail. Ouch.

When I was younger, just starting out in the corps de ballet, I could barely make it through a two hour rehearsal because of toe pain. I didn’t like wearing Ouch Pouch pads or any toe pads really, because I couldn’t feel the floor in the same way. I was willing to have pain, in order to dance better. That can only last so long though, even with a high pain tolerance. Luckily, these days, there are so many more options out there for ballerinas!

The first time I danced the lead in Etudes, I remember my feet screaming at me. The sylph section is almost all on pointe. So many bourrees. In my fifteen minute break, I would run upstairs, put ice on my feet and pray that they would fit back in to my shoes.

I couldn’t continue dancing with only tape and second skin. I never quite figured out cotton or paper towels. I do know some ballerinas that are quite happy with those as a solution though.

Luckily, I found a solution of my own. And I am so grateful that I have! PerfectFit Pointe Inserts. This was a game changer for me. Now, I can get through my longest of days without being in agony. I may still feel my toes after an 8 hour day but at least I don’t need an Advil in order to get the swelling down. (NOT healthy, NOT wise. DO NOT reach for the Advil!)

“The PerfectFit Pointe Shoe Inserts use a moldable impression material to adapt your foot to fit the inside of your shoe like a glove. By filling the voids within the box of the shoe, the inserts perfectly distribute your weight across your toes and forefoot when en pointe, which reduces or removes painful and damaging pressure points. ” -www.perfectfitpointe.com

When you order a set of inserts, you make them yourself, at home. They are completely customized for your foot, your needs and desires.

Another bonus, is that I no longer have to sit on the floor, between barre and center for ten minutes taping every, individual toe. I am much faster to get my shoes on and continue with my favorite part of class, center.

I can feel the floor, which is everything to me. I don’t like to feel that I am being lifted out of my shoes but rather truly, in the shoe. PerfectFit Inserts do this, while giving me greater stability and balance. Win, Win!

I fully recommend them. My everyday pain, has diminished. That is the biggest gift. To be able to do what I love, without sensitive toes. 🙂 Thank you PerfectFit!

xoxo
-Hol

What Is Your Favorite Bournonville Ballet?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, September 16, 2019

Photo: Henrik Stenberg

Thank you for the Question, cvisintin.

Good Question. I have so much respect for August Bournonville and for all of the ballets he created. Being at the Royal Danish Ballet, his home, you truly learn a lot about him, his style, and the love of the Bournonville tradition.

My favorite Bournonville Ballet is, Napoli. I love the joy that is bursting out of this ballet. Third act, is one of the greatest examples of Bournonville steps with Pas de Six! Everyone has a big smile, the stage is filled with so many dancers, character dancers and children, all having a great time. I love how our joy, gets projected in to the audience with the happy ending, making it nearly impossible to walk away from the show without feeling good.

Holly Dorger & Jonathan Chmelensky as Teresina and Gennaro in Napoli. Photo: Henrik Stenberg

Fortunately, Napoli is a ballet that comes up quite often in our repertoire. Another reason why I hold Napoli in particular close to my heart, is because I’ve danced so many of the roles.

12 Finale Couples. Corps de Ballet.

When I first moved to Denmark, I played the mom in first act that eats spaghetti with her two children. I remember at eighteen feeling kind of funny, being so young and playing a mom.

Next, I became one of the twelve finale couples in third act. Then, the next time Napoli was danced, I did finale couples and second act corps de ballet.

Young me in 2nd Act Corps de Ballet.

A few year later, I went the next level up. I joined Pas De Six. I was SO excited when I first got cast to dance pas de six. It felt like I had finally gotten some sort of invisible, Bournonville approval, to be dancing this ballet among dancers specifically trained to dance Bournonville.

My first time dancing in Pas de Six
Pas de Six

Then last year, I was humbled to be cast as the lead role, Teresina. I loved every second.

Teresina!

I personally, am a huge fan of the additions that Nikolaj Hubbe and Sorella Englund added to our current version of Napoli. They added a very sweet and romantic pas de deux in act 1, which uses Bournonville inspired steps and gives the rather mime- filled act, another dancing number.

Corrections with Nikolaj Hubbe & Sorella Englund.

Act 2, they completely re-did. They changed the music and all the steps. Louise Alenius, is the composer of the new music. She is the definition of cool.

Their version of Act 2 is soooo beautiful from the front. The lights truly make it look like everyone is underwater, which is an amazing effect. The pas de deux that was created for Golfo and Teresina, is one of the most fun to dance. The steps make you feel like you are turning in to a sea creature, which is super interesting as an artist to play with.

Act 2. Photo: Henrik Stenberg
Act 2 with Ryan Tomash as Golfo. Photo: Henrik Stenberg

Third act is almost untouched, except for the addition of a small pas de deux between Teresina and Gennaro, in the very beginning of the act. This pas helps to tell the story and really shows off the love the characters have for each other. I love it!

3rd Act. With Jonathan Chmelensky as Gennaro. Photo: Henrik Stenberg

On years when we don’t dance Napoli, I miss it! I’m always hoping to hear that it will be in the coming repertoire!

Photo: Henrik Stenberg

Bournonville has many beautiful ballets that I can only hope, one day I’ll be lucky enough to dance.

xoxo
-Hol

What Is A Costume Fitting Like at The Royal Danish Ballet!?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, September 13, 2019

Oooooh! Costume fittings are the best!! I think it is so much fun when you are called to one. It is the time where you get that first sneak peek of what you’ll be wearing on stage! It makes it all the more real and exciting!

We are so lucky at the Royal Danish Ballet, because we have absolutely the most talented costume department and the nicest, hands down. The men and women that work in the costume department are absolutely sweethearts. They care so much about the dancers and you can feel it when you are with them trying on their beautiful creations. I’m a huge, HUGE fan of the costume department.

When you get called for a costume fitting, your name will be written on the schedule. (My name is written in red, along with the time I am called on the schedule to the left.) The fittings are usually pretty quick (around 5-10 min.) but it does depend on if you are trying on a costume, that has already been made or one that is being created for the first time.

When you try on a costume, that has already been made, many times it was made on someone else. We keep costumes for years! Which is cool when you try on a costume, that has a name of a past ballerina that you admire! Legend- wear! The costume department comes prepared, as they’ve taken the time to figure out, who’s measurements are the closest to yours and pulled that costume for you to try on. Then, only slight alterations are needed.

Diamonds Costume Fitting. Seamstress: Bente Kirk

When you are called for a costume fitting for a brand new ballet, that has all new costumes, then it will take a bit longer. Anywhere from ten minutes to two hours. When a fitting takes a long time, it is usually because the designer is able to be at the fitting. Therefore more ideas are discussed and bounced back and forth. It’s actually pretty cool to witness their artistic thought process about their creations.

Karen Blixen costume fitting with Bente Kirk.

I recently was called to a fitting for the up and coming World Premiere of, Karen Blixen. Choreography by Gregory Dean. Scenography and costume design by Jon Morrell. Music by Claude Debussy. Composer and musical arrangement by Martin Yates. It is very exciting!

Karen Blixen Costume Fitting with Bente Kirk.

You go to the costume department at the time you are called and meet one of the seamstresses. They will help you get dressed and then they start pinning! Pinning everything. A waist that needs to go in, a hem that needs to be shortened, a sleeve that needs to be attached, a neckline lowered… the list of possibilities goes on and on.

I’m usually quite chatty at costume fittings. It’s a nice, ten minute break from rehearsal, where I get to share stories of my summer, or show lots of pictures of my cat. (Guilty)

Giselle Costume Fitting. Creation.
Giselle Costume Fitting. Seamstress: Bajsen Hertz.

Once they are done pinning, they help you slip out of the costume without piercing yourself and off you go, back in to rehearsal.

The costume department is a magical place where all the beauty is created. I love them. Best “coffee break” anyone could ask for.

xoxo
-Hol

Coppelia Costume Fitting.
Black Swan Costume Fitting

How To Create A Red Lip That Is Stage Kissable!?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, September 9, 2019

First things first. 🙂 When you see two dancers on stage kiss, they are actually kissing. I guarantee, that they aren’t thinking about the kiss though. A kiss is always set to the music and is thought of as part of the choreography. In the ballet Napoli, I was asked to kiss my partner while simultaneously slowly lifting up one of my legs. That moment in the ballet, quickly became a balancing exercise for me, to truly create that Hollywood moment that my director wanted. My thoughts were, “Don’t fall over, Holly!”.

Napoli First Act. Jonathan Chmelensky & I.

How do you create a red lip, that is kissable but wont come off all over your partner? There isn’t always a possibility to run off stage to fix your make up and for him to wipe his face during a show.

Powder! It’s all about that face finishing powder. When doing your makeup before a show, put on your lip liner and then use that Ruby Red, or Drama Queen, or whatever the name is of your red lipstick and put that on your lips. Then, take your finishing powder and dust it all over your lips. It’s going to feel weird. Really weird. Give it a moment to settle in. Then, put another layer of your red lipstick on. Again, add more powder. Do this three or four times.

Your lips will not feel like your own anymore. It can feel quite dry. Once you start dancing though, I promise you wont be thinking about your lips.

Photo: Peter Anderson

To take it one step further, after you put on your lipstick and powder layers, take your concealer and apply it around your lips to stop any color bleeding. Make those red lips really pop!

I always finish my make up routine with a face setting spray. Doesn’t hurt to give everything, one last chance to set before the sweat starts to pour, threatening to ruin everything.

xoxo
-Hol

Do You Have To Start Dance Young!?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, September 6, 2019

If you were to go in to any professional company class, anywhere in the world and ask the room, How old were you when you first started dancing? The most common answer would be, oh four or five years old. The dancers would all, most likely have a picture similar to the one below.

Me at four years old.

Sometimes, a dancer will say that they started as young as two! But what is even more uncommon to hear, is for a dancer to say that they started dancing in their teens or later.

It happens though! And you can become a professional dancer even if you start late! It is absolutely one of the most motivational stories to hear of, a dancer making it despite their delayed introduction to dance.

A few legends of dance are examples of those that started later. Such as, Rudolf Nureyev, Martha Graham and Misty Copeland! Rudolf didn’t enter a ballet school until he was seventeen! Misty was thirteen and Martha was also in her teens.

In the Royal Danish Ballet, we have one absolutely wonderful dancer, Eliabe D’Abadia, that got a late start to ballet. He is similar to Nureyev, as he didn’t take ballet until he was seventeen! Now he is going on dancing thirteen years professionally! Just amazing! I mean look at this handsome man’s jump, flexibility and feet!

Eliabe D’Abadia Photo: Daniel Stjerne

The one thing that all dancers have to do, but especially if you start later, is to dedicate themselves to dance. You have to be motivated and remain truly focused. Completely submerge yourself in to dance so you have the highest possibility of “catching up” and becoming professional.

There are many more stories of people starting late out there, once you start asking and looking around. Keith Sabado (danced with Mark Morris for 10 years and then with White Oak Dance Project) didn’t take his first dance class until college!

It is never too late to start dancing. To become a professional dancer in a company though, there is a time frame. A professional dancers “life” only lasts into their early forties. At the Royal Danish Ballet you must stop at forty years old. Many stop before.

Motivation, focus and passion is unstoppable even within a time frame. Be that next motivational story we all want to hear about!

xoxo
-Hol

How Many Pairs Of Pointe Shoes Do You Go Through In A Week?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, September 2, 2019

I would say on average, I go through two pairs of pointe shoes a week. Some weeks my schedule isn’t very heavy, so I might only use one pair. Other weeks are extremely busy and then I may even need three or four pairs of shoes! I will round up and say that for one season with the Royal Danish Ballet, I go through 100 pairs of pointe shoes!

I prefer to dance in softer shoes. New shoes are a bit of a nightmare for me. I like the toe to be hard but everything else worn in. Which is why I try to make my shoes last as long as possible.

Sometimes, you just get a bad pair of shoes. So sad. I can’t tell if something is wrong with the shoes until after, I have spent 2 hours sewing and prepping the shoes. I need to try them in class, in turns to know. The center point needs to be good. There is no time for a weird shoe that takes you out of your turns! If the shoe isn’t good… it doesn’t get worn and another pair of shoes needs to be sewn.

Photo: Sofie Mathiassen

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen too often. I have customized my shoes more and more over the years which has definitely helped. Little shout out to all the wonderful people working at Freed making all the pointe shoes! We literally couldn’t dance without you!

When the weather is HOT, for example like last week, I can kill a pair of shoes in a day. Heat definitely creates a quick death to pointe shoes. They become too mushy to dance in.

Sometimes, you get a miracle pair of shoes! That is the best! I’ve never been able to quite figure out what makes a miracle pair so good, but every once in a while, there will be a pair of shoes that doesn’t die with a perfect balance point. When I danced as Henriette in Raymonda in 2017, I used the same pair of shoes for all of my 12 performances. I love when that happens!

Alice In Wonderland last year, was the opposite to Raymonda. I went through a pair of shoes for every performance. Alice dances on stage for nearly three hours in the warm stage lights, so the shoes simply, had no chance for a long life.

Photo: Politiken

Even after I consider a pair of shoes dead, I will keep them in my dressing room for several months. The shoes become hard again which is great because then I can get a second life out of them! I can use them for rehearsals during the day or if they are really good, even a show!

So many pointe shoes! I love them though. Speaking of which, I need to go and sew.
xoxo
-Hol