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How Do You Break In Your Pointe Shoes?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Thank you for the question, Solveig.

Breaking in pointe shoes… oooh every dancer that you meet, will do it differently. Pointe shoes are as individual as your own feet. It will take some trial and error but it will be an interesting journey and before you know it, you will have developed some of your very own odd, ballerina pointe shoe tricks. 

I do customize my shoes which is a blessing because it cuts down on the time that I need to spend breaking them in. Although, I still do a few things to my shoes after I’ve sewn on my elastic and ribbons and have darned my them. Here are the four things I do to prepare my shoes: 

1- Glue

I lightly glue the bottom of the toe and up either side about 3 inches with HotStuff glue. (Jet Glue in the States) 

When I am glueing my shoes I have the shoe stand up on pointe as I move it in a circular motion until it dries, which is for only about 10 seconds. I do this thinking that it is evenly spreading out the glue on the toe but I cannot prove that.  Just something that I do. Then I let my shoes remain standing on pointe for several minutes after I’ve glued them.

2- Shave the outside down.

I do shave the outside of my shoe. PLEASE BE CAREFUL AND HAVE AN ADULT HELP YOU. This is no joke. I’ve seen girls do some very painful things by accident while shaving their shoes down. The hobby knife that I use is really, really sharp. I shave the shoe from the point of where my foot bends and downward. The heel still has full support. I do this so it takes less effort for me to be able to bend the shoes when I pointe my feet. 

3- Chair Trick.

Always, always, always. I will not wear my pointe shoes until I’ve done this trick. I take a chair and place it on my bent pointe shoes OVERNIGHT. 

4- Water the Bunions. 

The final thing that I do to my pointe shoes is once I’ve put them on for class, I will run to the bathroom to splash a small amount of water on the bunion area. Nobody got time for blisters and water softens the material where I know it will be rubbing my feet. 

These are the four things that I do. Some people stand on them and make them pop, some people press them in to doors, some people bang the shoes on the ground…. there are many options to try to find your best break-in routine. I hope this helps!

xoxo
-Hol

What Are Your Favorite and Least Favorite Steps!?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, June 5, 2020

Thank you for the question, @andreeaunicorn

Favorite Steps!

-TURNS: I really enjoy that floating sensation. Turns for me are almost like my rest step. I look forward to them in my variations. I enjoy all turns but fast pike turns that really travel across the stage are definitely, one of my favorites!

Pike turns in Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux

-BIG JUMPS: When you leap, it’s almost like you are flying! And that feels amazing!

Ravn Campaign.

– MOVING FAST: I really enjoy the challenge of moving fast. I think it is interesting to the eye of the observer and fun for the dancer. You also have to be so on top of what you are doing because there isn’t a split second for hesitation! That’s a thrill!

Ballo Della Regina.

-POINTE WORK: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with pointe shoes, but I sure loving dancing in them. It is so much fun to dance on my toes while doing little, feminine steps. But oooooh sometimes my toes can be so painful, I can barely breathe! Although, ever since i switched to using PerfectFit Toe Pads, it has been a game changer and has taken away almost all the pain!

Lead Marzipan in The Nutcracker.

Least Favorite Steps!

PENCHE WITHOUT A PARTNER AND IN POINTE SHOES: This is, without a doubt, my least favorite step. From the fact that the bottoms of pointe shoes aren’t really flat, to the reality that you have nothing to hold on too and can easily, EASILY fall… all penche’s are terrifying. Giselle has quite a few of them in the second act. At one point, she is the only person moving on stage, so all eyes are on her, and there is a terribly bright spotlight on her and there she is trying to do an impossibly slow penche! That is tricky!

Penche in Giselle Second Act

SLOW ADAGE: If adage becomes too slow, I find it not fun. My legs feel heavy. My hips start to hurt and it no longer feels like dancing but rather fighting for poses. BUT it’s always good to have something to work on.

xoxo
-Hol

A Slow Adage Section from the ballet, Giselle

How Do You Maintain Good Shape During These Corona Times?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, May 29, 2020

Thank you so much for the question, @sidsefog

What an unnerving time we are all currently living in around the world. I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. Truly.

To help me stay in shape, as close to ballerina shape as I can, I currently do these 5 things:

1- Run. I run 5k every other day. Running gets my heartbeat up, helps me maintain some sort of level of stamina, and the hard landings keep my ankles used to impact when jumping is rather limited without a studio. I do run on a dirt path so it isn’t as rough for my ankles. If you aren’t a runner, I do recommend it but start slow. Shin splints, knee problems, and ankle issues can appear if you do too much to soon.

2- Ballet Barre. On the days that I don’t run, I do a ballet barre. I was doing barre everyday but now the Royal Danish Ballet is officially on summer holiday so I’ve given myself a bit of a break. I want to keep my feet and legs moving but to also allow them to get a rest so they are ready for the 2020/2021 exciting season.

3- Single Leg Heel Raise Exercise. Many injuries start from a weak calf… I have found that by just adding this exercise into my daily routine, it is helping me maintain better calf shape and it helps prevent injuries when we eventually get back to a full time dance schedule.

The exercise is to stand on one leg with your other foot off of the ground. Slowly count to four to raise up to a demi point and then slowly count to four to lower down again without ever allowing your heel to touch the floor. If you can do 27 in a row then they say that you have a healthy and strong calf. It’s pretty tough though! I’m only at 17 in a row!

4- 3-5 minute plank. This one I do after my run. I’m currently building up to 5 min. Trying to keep my abs strong and my arms sculpted.

5- Stretch. Especially my calves from all the running and the leg heel raises. But I also do the splits, and some hip stretches. Trying to keep things loose.

These are the five things that I do religiously but there are so many different types of exercises that can also keep you in a good shape during these tricky times. Maybe you prefer the jump rope instead of running. Or a workout class with squats and weights. Or even learning a dance routine off of the internet. I’ve done these things too! They are fun. Take advantage of all the classes on social media. It’s a great distraction and maybe you’ll discover a new love!

xo
-Hol

What Is the Purpose of the Heels Being Lifted off of the Ground in Ballet?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Thursday, May 21, 2020

Thank you so much for the question, Amy Z.

This is a great question because it is a little tricky and there are many different opinions. When working at the barre your heels shouldn’t be lifting off the ground but you should be imaging that they are in order to create the feeling that your body weight is over the balls of your feet. We are training our bodies to have our weight NOT on our heels and therefore it can sometimes be seen as a exaggeration by lifting the heels off of the ground.

First position

Imagine that you have only one piece of paper that could slide underneath your heel. That is how much your heel should be off of the ground. It really shouldn’t be visible.

If you pile with your heels coming completely off of the ground then the calf and leg muscles aren’t being used or strengthened in a way that will benefit you.

When you are dancing a variation, you still want to use your full pile with your heels on the ground but sometimes you will see the heels slightly lifted as the dancer is changing or prepping positions. This is normal. Especially when you are working with speed because that is when it is even more important to have your body weight on the balls of your feet. You can’t move quickly if your weight is positioned incorrectly.

Jumps. Well… technically it should come from a pile with your heels on the ground. Honestly, it is common to see dancers jumping from a visible but slightly lifted heel. It’s again about your body weight. Getting your weight in to your heels is death to a jump.

The prep for a saute in the fast ballet, Ballo Della Regina. (the right foot heel is on the ground)
Top of the Saute.

All fifth positions, all pile’s, and all preparations for jumps, if done correctly, should have the heel down but with the weight on the balls of your feet. That way your legs are ready for any step that comes your way!

xoxo
-Hol

In the Ballet, Napoli, Who Is the Lady in the Blue Dress?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

Thank you for the question, Ingrid & Hanne Kuhlman

In August Bournonville’s ballet, Napoli, there is one character that can be a little tricky to figure out. The ballet opens up with a scene of the streets of Napoli. A charming, busy, dirty city on the sea in Italy. You meet the two main characters, Teresina & Gennaro. They are very much in love with each other. Teresina’s mother, Veronica, doesn’t want her daughter to marry Gennaro, a poor fisherman. Veronica introduces her daughter to two other possible suitors, Peppo and Giacamo, much wealthier options. Teresina will not have it and begs for her mother’s approval. BUT! Amid all of this, a woman dressed in a blue robe comes on stage and has a short dialogue with Teresina and Gennaro.

Teresina: Alexandra LoSardo, Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen

This character, in the newest version by Nikolaj Hubbe and Sorella Englund is called the Blue Angel. Originally the Blue Angel was in fact, a Catholic monk. Nikolaj and Sorella wanted to take a step away from having only one form of religion represented and decided to incorporate all religions by having her represent love.

The Blue Angel can ONLY be seen by Teresina and Gennaro. This is because they are the ones fighting for their love. The Blue Angel guides the couple throughout the ballet. You’ll see the Blue Angel in first act, have Teresina give her necklace to Gennaro, representing her choice in love.

Teresina: Holly Dorger, Gennaro: Jonathan Chmelensky, Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

Later, once Teresina has drowned and Gennaro is on the cusp of committing suicide, the Blue Angel reappears to Gennaro and tells him to search for Teresina in the Blue Grotto. She will not allow him to give up on love.

Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen
Gennaro: Jonathan Chmelensky, Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

At the end of the ballet, you’ll see the blue angel cross the stage on the infamous bridge, at the couples wedding festivities. She is watching over them. Love prevailed.

Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen

In the original version with the Catholic Pilgrim, in first act, you see Teresina give the monk her heart necklace instead of Gennaro. The monk then blesses Teresina and Gennaro and their love. The monk also is the character to stop Gennaro from committing suicide when they learn that Teresina has disappeared.

Teresina: Holly Dorger, Gennaro: Jonathan Chmelensky, Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

There is a version on YouTube from 1986, that is of a pretty good filming quality, following closer to the original version, including the Pigrim. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdR2N4u3r5A

Teresina: Linda Hindberg, Gennaro: Arne Villumsen, Monk: ?

Or…

There is Nikolaj Hubbe’s and Sorella Englund’s version from 2013 on KGLExtra. This is the version the Royal Danish Ballet currently performs. https://kglteater.dk/xtra/forestillinger/forestilling-napoli/

Teresina: Alexandra LoSardo, Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen

Hope that helped! Enjoy Napoli. It is a fantastic ballet!

Xo
-Hol

What Are Some Recommendations of Videos In Order to Learn More About Ballet?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, April 6, 2020

Photo: China Magazine

Thank you for the question, @papagena_

Yes! Fabulous that you would like to learn more about the ballet world. In order to not over load you with ideas and suggestions, as there really is a huge supply of materials out there that can take you in all sorts of fascinating directions. I’ve compiled two videos each about the two choreographers that I find the most interesting and influential in my life, George Balanchine and August Bournonville.

Balanchine:

Balanchine History:

Fantastic Clips of many Balanchine Ballets showing the diversity and range:

Bournonville:

Bournonville History: (Documentary in Danish)

https://www.dr.dk/drtv/program/bournonville_118985

History (In English):
Part 1:

Part 2:

Entire performance of his full length ballet, Napoli

https://kglteater.dk/kgl/xtra/forestilling-napoli/

I hope you enjoy!
xoxo
-Hol

Which Role Has Fulfilled You the Most?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Saturday, April 4, 2020

Photo: Selina Meier

Thank you for the question, andersen_annette

Oooh that’s a big question! So many roles have touched me. The lead ballerina in, Etudes, is very dear to me because it was my first Principal Part as a professional dancer. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to revisit the ballet every few years. I feel that Etudes represents my growth as a dancer and artist.

In Etudes. Photo: Costin Radu

The entire Balanchine repertoire means a lot to me because of my training at the School of American Ballet.  I spent four years in NYC admiring and learning Balanchine ballets, which became my foundation and core. Most recently, I trained with Merrill Ashley, for the premiere of Ballo Della Regina. Having the opportunity to learn from a living, Balanchine legend was a memory I’ll never forget. To be able to explore and dive into every step, every day for nearly five weeks was ballerina heaven. I learned so much from that experience that I consciously try to add to every role that I do moving forward.

Performing, Ballo Della Regina

As for full-length story ballets, Giselle is certainly a character I treasure. I felt, as many ballerinas must also, that I shared and understood many of the emotions of Giselle throughout the ballet. Falling in love, betrayal, heartbreak and finally forgiveness.

Giselle First Act with Jonathan Chmelensky.

The great challenge in Giselle was transforming from the mad scene in first act to finding the complete inner peace and calm to do the penches, center stage, alone with a spotlight in the second act. I believe that this ballet helped me discover new depths of my artistry that I’d never explored before. 

Giselle Second Act with Jonathan Chmelensky.

But I’ve never had more fun, than performing as Alice in Wheeldon’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Absolutely pure joy the entire way through! I love that production to pieces. It is magical! So much dancing! So many smiles to give to the audience!

Alice.

xoxo
-Hol

PS- You can currently stream Alice in your own living room, https://kglteater.dk/kgl/xtra/forestilling-alice-i-eventyrland?fbclid=IwAR2nAivcMEKzzwdCVdRrh3BZmrqgWT8h_SQVhfXO0JNFegsGKAKAIFDArzA

How Do You Customize Your Pointe Shoes?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, March 13, 2020

Photo: Hummel

Thank you for the question, Misslilydoesballet

As many ballerinas have said before me and will say after me… “It has taken me years to customize my shoes.” And it’s true! It has taken me years! Luckily, I am currently very happy with them.

My Shoes are Freeds. (Always and Forever)

I wear maker, V. I have worn this maker ever since I became a professional. Nearly thirteen years!! I love my maker V. I hear, he has become quite popular and now it’s extremely difficult to become a new customer of his! Go maker V! He is magic.

I currently wear size 5 and a heel pin, XX. (for a long time I wore 5 1/2 X… but my bunions grew.) :/

FREED. 5. XX. V

I use a leather insole. I loooove my leather insole. I have Freed cut the sole so it is only 10cm long. DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN IN POINTE SHOES FOR YEARS! This is extremely dangerous to do if you are young or new to pointe. By cutting the insole, it takes out all of the support in the shoe that protects the feet and ankles. It’s a little crazy. I admit it. I dance with very little actual shoe. You can only do this if you have trained your ankles to be strong. Very strong. *Don’t try at home.*

My leather insole.

I have cut down the sides of my shoes so the arch of the foot is shown more. This was one of the first things I did when I started to customize my shoes so I don’t even remember how much it is that I cut down.

Lastly, I use an elastic draw string!

These shoes have given me some of my absolute BEST memories. I am so grateful for them. Truly love what I do.

Photo: Hummel

xoxo,
-Hol

What Was Your Journey Like To Get To The Royal Danish Ballet?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, February 24, 2020

Photo: Kglteater

Thank you for the question, @liv.book

Do you know the song, My Way, by Frank Sinatra? (such a good song) 🙂 It is a fantastic reminder that everyone has their own path in life. Their fate will be lived out their way. Twists, curve-balls, and unexpected challenges will occur to everyone at some point during their life’s journey. Life can be truly unpredictable! Maybe your path will take you in a totally different direction then you originally planned! That is exactly what happened to me. And it turned out to be my biggest blessing in disguise!

I moved away from home to N.Y.C. at 14 years old to become a year round student at the School of American Ballet. (SAB) SAB is the ballet school that feeds in to The New York City Ballet. (NYCB) In order to join the company, all dancers must attend SAB. So for four years, I trained everyday in hopes of getting in to the NYCB.

During my four years at SAB, Nikolaj Hubbe, a Danish star dancer with both the Royal Danish Ballet and The New York City Ballet, used to teach a few classes at the school in his spare time. I met Nikolaj when I was fourteen years old, in my first year at the school when he was my substitute teacher one day. What is pretty remarkable is that if you ask him today, he still remembers exactly where I stood at the barre during class. (Second girl in line, by the door. An easy escape (if needed) and I always had a girl in front of me for both sides, in case I didn’t pick up the combination.) 😉

Napoli

Fast forward to about half-way through my fourth year at the school. I turned eighteen years old and was getting ready to graduate high school. Kay Mazzo (the director of SAB) called me in to a meeting about my future. This was right before audition season for professional companies started. Kay told me that Peter Martins (director of NYCB) and Nikolaj Hubbe had had a meeting about me. She continued to tell me that Nikolaj would be taking over the Royal Danish Ballet that August. (2008) And she informed me that Nikolaj had chosen one student, to bring with him back to Denmark. That was me.

Flower Festival

So that is how I ended up at the RDB. It was a shock. It was not my plan. But RDB has given me my dream come true and I couldn’t be more grateful for where I ended up having my professional career.

xoxo,
-Hol

How Do You Deal With Injuries?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, February 10, 2020

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Thank you for the question, @sylle_

Gosh, how do you deal with injuries!? Whether an injury is taking off ballet for a few days or taking off for several months…years, it is never fun. It always feels like it is the worst timing. None of us want to miss out. None of us want to lose an opportunity. None of us want to not be able to dance, the thing that we love to do.

Photo: Ravn

Dealing with injury is a tough process but in order to survive it, we have to find an upside. Finding this upside will not come overnight. NO. NO. No. It will take you time.

I believe that there are several phases of injury that one has to go through.

Starting at the very beginning, Phase 1: Shock and Denial! “I’m fine. I’ll be fine,” you whisper to yourself as you limp home to watch Netflix’s on your couch. Yeah, sure… sure you’re fine. You aren’t fine at all.

Phase 2: Acceptance. Admitting that you are hurt IS scary. It has to be done, though. The quicker you get to this stage, the quicker you can start to heal. Your mind can finally calm down and stop having to repeat that made up story of how you aren’t really injured. One can stay in denial for months… just getting by…for months.

Phase 3: Depression. It will hit you hard and it will put you in a place that you never knew existed. A dark, dark place. Tears… so many tears. Anger will flare up from within you too. Depending on how you deal with this stage, will shape your return from your injury. I would say, feel that deep, black hole, feel the cold walls surrounding you, then… look up at the light. Look up to the surface and start swimming upwards to get out.

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Phase 4: Find the positive side. Suddenly, you have more free time then you know what to do with. Instead of watching TV all day (yes we’ve all given in to those lazy days of watching nonsense TV when injured) I would recommend to take this time to work on having a more, well rounded life.

We put so much focus, energy and hard work in to our ballet that we easily forget that there are a million things happening in the world everyday. Exciting things.

Try something new! Dare to be a beginner at something again. Have that coffee with a friend that you never really had the time to get to know. Educate yourself. Explore what you might be interested in. Could be learning more about the human body or learning a new language or learning about art history. Sky’s the limit! Explore your own city. Find local spots that you’ve never been too.

Phase 5: Starting your way back to ballet. When you are able to start moving again, you’ll be so grateful to have survived all the previous phases. Your love for ballet will have grown even bigger. And believe it or not you will have learned a lot. Hold your horses a little bit though. Try not to rush back. Listen to your advisors including physical therapists and doctors but also listen to yourself. Only you can feel what is going on in your body. I’m a believer of listening to that gut feeling.

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Phase 6: Expect at least one set back. I’ve seen it, time and time again. Someone has recovered from their injury, everyone is so excited to have them back in the studio but their work load just increased quite suddenly. That injury will get a little mad at you for asking so much of it, all of a sudden. Be smart. You are so close to doing what you love but you must remain careful and not push too hard. You are risking setting yourself even further back. And there is no way you are ready to be back at phase 1 emotionally.

If you are injured or know someone who is injured, I’m so sorry that you got hurt. I would never wish an injury upon another human being but especially never upon a dancer. It kills us. Our insides just die. I wish you a speedy and healthy recovery. I hope that you get back even stronger then when you were forced to stop.

xoxo
-Hol