Juliana Labianca's blog

There are many ways to amp up your focus before rehearsal. Some dancers meditate. Others chug a latte. A recent study found that the key to concentration could be as simple as sipping some water: People who drank three cups just before beginning a task increased their brain’s reaction time by up to 14 percent. Apparently, even being a little thirsty can distract you. So the next time you start trying to learn a tricky new phrase, fill up your water bottle. You’ll feel perkier in no time.

With irregular cash flow and notoriously low wages, ballet dancers can have a tricky time keeping their bank accounts healthy—especially when they'd much rather focus on what's happening at the barre than what's happening in their checkbook. In Pointe's June/July issue, we broke down the paychecks of four corps members, and asked each dancer how she makes it work on a starting salary.

It's only every so often that we get to peek behind the curtains of the world’s most acclaimed ballet companies. So when this video of the Mariinsky Theatre and Vaganova Ballet Academy came across our desks, we couldn't wait to watch it. The 25-minute documentary, titled Ballet, Sweat and Tears, features interviews and footage of young students at the academy as well as first soloist Oxana Skorik and prima Diana Vishneva at the Mariinsky, plus insight from Vishneva's coach. It goes in the studios, through the theater and to their apartments.

On last night’s episode of “Breaking Pointe,” the casting decisions for Cinderella were made, and with them came a tidal wave of drama and emotions for everyone at Ballet West. Along with showing the awkward mix of disappointment and happiness that comes with every casting, the episode also addressed the effects of ballet’s lack of diversity.

 

Getting a peek inside a major company’s technique class is always a treat. While seeing dancers perform onstage is magical, there’s something captivating about watching a ballerina’s unmade-up face fully concentrated on learning a combination or pushing for another pirouette.

 

Sprained ankles are one of the most common injuries in ballet: Out of a group of 24 serious dancers, 2 to 7 will sprain their ankle within a year, according to a study done at the University of Sydney. And because so many dancers attempt to work through the pain, up to 65 percent of them will still suffer from ankle problems three years later.

Everyone knows the sinking feeling that comes after spotting a stain on an otherwise pristine costume. But it happens all the time, and unless you're in a company with a wardrobe department, it's up to you to get out that stain. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with some quick fixes.

 

Deodorant

Dancers have a love-hate relationship with their pointe shoes. They give us blisters, make our feet throb and don’t last very long—but if anyone tried to take them away, we’d chase them off with a stick.

 

So when former dancer Eliza Gaynor Minden took a closer look at traditional pointe shoe brands and noticed where improvements could be made, she jumped at the chance to develop a high-tech pointe shoe under the label Gaynor Minden.

 

Former Royal Ballet principal Alina Cojocaru surprised the ballet world yesterday with the announcement that she's joining the English National Ballet. Many fans speculate that the move stems from her dissatisfaction at The Royal, which she abruptly left in June, along with on-and off-stage partner Johan Kobborg (who has not yet announced his future plans).

 

Flexibility can be just as important in setting goals as it is during grand battements. A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that we're more likely to pursue goals when they include a range of ideal outcomes, rather than being ultra-specific.