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  1. Lilac Fairy in Maina Gielgud’s production of Aurora’s Wedding for Ballet Academy East New York City, May 2019
  2. The cross training now in fashion tends to make for more muscle in the legs - well overall really...
  3. Every hand made pointe shoe is slightly different. Dancers spend a great deal of time choosing between their specially made pointe shoes for those which feel and look right for different roles they dance. Platform of pointe shoes that are hand made, often end up with slightly crooked platforms, inclining either left or. Right, or more over the toes or under then 90 degrees to the floor which is the ideal. Sometimes the darning is to try and correct the crookedness, otherwise to create a larger platform. Old makes of pointe shoes particularly in Russia had very rounded/curved and tiny platforms, also the Italian Porselli as far as I remember. Pointe shoes were not created specifically to balance on, but so that ballerinas could briefly go onto the tips of their toes creating an illusion of lightness and otherworldness! Some pointe shoes make descending from pointe clunky, while others assist the beautiful descente de pointes which is a hallmark of the beautiful footwork of the best French School.
  4. The great technicians noted for their balance, Toumanova, Alonso and Hightower had impeccable technique but also used square flat platforms on their pointe shoes, even in those days. To balance on point wearing shoes that have uneven or curved platforms is almost impossible. The larger the platform the easier to balance whether ‘dancing balances like pausing/hovering in pique arabesques, or balances off the hand of a partner, which incidentally also should emit a feeling of ‘hovering’ not making a Facebook photograph and standing immobile :). While agreeing for the most part with what Katharine says, I think it is important to remember that different dancers have different assets, physically, technically and artistically. Alessandra Ferri is a truly great artist whose feet and footwork is exquisite, and it is understandable that she chose to show off her arches even by going ‘over’, which is not the correct way. Her feet speak in a way that other dancers’ cannot - but their choice maybe to use shoes which permit them to display other assets such as their hovering balances, dazzling turns, speedy beats and or extraordinary elevation. To each his own - as long as all are used for artistic purposes and not for circus displays.
  5. Just getting back to square platforms, it is general knowledge that a square large platform to a pointe shoe which is at a 90 degree angle to the floor when on pointe is an enormous help to balance in Rose Adagio or wherever. The embroidering at outer ages which is sometimes done by female dancers is to give even more security to balance when on pointe. Short vamps are usually favoured by those without extravagant arches, as they assist going up on pointe more easily. Long vamps for those with big arches, as they give support and prevent the arch from buckling over the toes. It is for some, difficult to hop on pointe wearing shoes with long vamps, as it is necessary to hold the arch back from the ankle, and with long vamps this can lead to dropping off pointe onto flat foot after a hop or two.
  6. Like style and or particular styles of classical ballet (yes, there is more then one!!), partnering is a skill that some have a natural affinity for, while others struggle all their careers. Experience is of course an invaluable help. Peter Martins was one of the greatest partners, and of course in old days so was Anton Dolin. The ability to make the ballerina feel 'like in an armchair' while partnering her at the greatest distance possible and whenever feasible with one hand, is born and then enhanced. Others need to partner closer, but it is not as beautiful for the line and interpretation. I cannot condone the idea in any pas de deux that the male partner should 'try and make himself invisible' - he should of course assist the ballerina to look at her best, but at the same time be interpreting the music and the role together with her, it is after all a 'pas de DEUX', not an assisted solo! And the communication shown and felt between the two is paramount in tandem with the partnering. Some male dancers love to partner, as Xander Parish for instance. It is very tiring for the male dancer to be partnering/lifting the ballerina and then in classical ballets going straight into his solos. For the woman less tiring, as she gets to breathe while he dances his solo... and in any case the pas de deux are usually less tiring for her then for the male dancer.
  7. They are no larger now then during the 70s... western ballerinas always favoured square platforms (more or less large as wished), Russian ones less square and not flat, so balance was extremely difficult. One of the difficulties with hand made pointe shoes such as Freed’s, is that the platform while flat, occasionally can do so at an angle, forcing over the instep, or not allowing the dancer comfortably to get to full pointe but remaining slightly back of it. Occasionally even tilting to one side, making the dancer ‘roll’ or ‘sickle’. Hence the enormous amount of time choosing the best shoe for each floor and according to the technical demands of the ballet danced.
  8. Answers to various points (pointes ) raised in this thread 1. Lifts in act 3 Wedding Pas: these are not ever part of the choreographic text in Russia, and in previous versions of The Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Ballet, some dances did the lifts, while others did the other enchainement with arabesque développe efface. The lifts themselves changed over the years, and have been done simple with Aurora just going straight into a sort of pas de chat position and being carried from one side to the other like this (I believe there is footage of Fonteyn doing it this way somewhere still). The success of the way they are performed now, with développe croise,, depends very much on the proportions of Aurora. Incidentally a lifted entrechat used to be staple diet before the pirouette which precedes the run into diagonal of fishes. 2. Generally speaking although successful lifts are of course somewhat dependant on physical strength, they are also dependant on the couple hearing the musical dynamics of the take off in the same way. Even a very light ballerina weight wise may be heavy for a partner to lift if not coordinated with her partner - and vice versa (although all configurations can of course occur!) 3. There are different schools of thought as to how the fish dives should be managed. The most exciting being when Aurora makes her second endedans turn go forward off the supporting leg and dives - her Prince catches her. As opposed to her doing two turns on balance and the Prince taking her into the fish. 4 Platforms on shoes: A. Many photographs from the past were retouched to show a very narrow point. B. Russian pointe shoes, especially of early to mid last century, were much narrower in the toes (and the Russian dancers did not balance for any length of time on one leg, in Rose Adagio or other. - in fact they didn’t take their arm up when balancing in attitude to give hand to the next partner). C. Many if not most dancers use a wider platform when dancing the act 1 Aurora, as it is much easier to balance. Many also darn around the edges to create a still wider platform. It is easier to turn however on a narrower platform, and some have been seen to favour a wide platform on the right foot and a narrower one on the left (on which most of the pirouettes are performed). D. It would be interesting to see the old film of Nureyev and Seymour dancing act 3. I am almost certain that they did not perform the lifts either. E. And lastly, to make performing Odette/Odile in Swan lake dependant on whether the ballerina wishes, or can do 32 perfect fouettees is IMO ludicrous. One of the greatest would never have performed it then - Maya Plisetskaya... Fonteyn always had difficulty... They are used in the coda to dazzle the Prince, so if a manege is equally dazzling, it will not spoil the overall effect of the ballet! Technical virtuosity and facility, should be there to enable and enhance interpretation, not for their own sake...
  9. It is extremely usual for a coach to give a kiss to the dancers he or she has been coaching at the end of a rehearsal. For those interested, it is also very usual for Russian coaches coaching Russian dancers, to have heated arguments during a coaching session, then meeting up afterwards over a meal or a drink as the greatest of friends
  10. Horses for courses... Always to be borne in mind
  11. What about some of the ballets of Anton Doln’s time. He was founder of the company and directed it for some decades. His Pas de Quatre and Variations for 4 rarely seen nowadays.... Witch boy amongst many other famous roles of John Gilpin...
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