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Whenever I take class, I sometimes feel like there are a million and one things going through my head: 

 

"Turn out your feet (but from the hips)"

 

"Straighten your knees"

 

"Softer port de bras"

 

"Relax your shoulders"

 

"Ribs down"

 

"Wait, not too much—stay lifted"

 

"Play with the music a little more"

 

"Turn out more"

 

"Pointe your feet"

 

"No, seriously, come on, work that turnout"

 

Ah, summer in NYC's Central Park: Sun, fun and--hundreds of girls in pointe shoes? That was the delightfully incongruous scene this Monday, August 2nd as hundreds of ballerinas gathered in the park in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for "Most Ballerinas on Pointe at One Time." (The previous record of 220 was set at the Youth America Grand Prix last year.)  American Ballet Theatre's Craig Salstein and Michele Wiles led the attempt, which was the brainchild of former ABT trustee Ellen Schiavone and well-known dance photographer Gene Schiavone.

 

 

Now that all the summer dance programs are wrapping up, I've started thinking about my one experience going away to ballet sleepaway camp when I was 15.  I've always been something of a homebody, and I was really nervous about going away for eight weeks.  My coach at the time convinced me that it was a good idea, though, so off I went, moving into an upstate New York college dormitory with what seemed like hundreds of girls and about five boys.

 

 

Ballet class is a place where technique is strengthened and lessons are learned about one's self as a dancer. We repeat common exercises to tone our bodies, gain further mastery of new steps and develop a keen sense of artistry. We fall, we learn intricate combinations, we push ourselves to be better than the day before. 

 

Virginia Johnson, Pointe's founding editor in chief, will hold a free master class at Dance Theatre of Harlem studios on Sunday from 11 am to 1 pm!

 

Now artistic director of Dance Theatre of Harlem, Johnson invites advanced students to get a taste of DTH and learn about their Professional Training Program, a training intensive designed to give advanced students the career skills and high level dance competence required by the field.

 

If you're interested in attending, contact Christopher McDaniel at www.facebook.com/chrismcdaniel08

When I saw Paloma Herrera of American Ballet Theatre step onto the stage of So You Think You Can Dance last fall, I was speechless. One of my favorite ballerinas posed confidently to begin Kitri’s variation, on what seemed to be an awful floor for pointe work. Nevertheless, Herrera delivered under bright spotlights, in front of TV crews, and for millions of SYTYCD fans watching at home. If she was out of her element, it was impossible to for anyone to tell. Herrera could probably perform with spunk, strength and spot-on turns under any given situation.

When I stop and think about all the long years I've been studying ballet (20, to be exact), I always realize how much it has influenced the person I've become since I started.  It's unavoidable, when you've been working on something so hard for so long.  But since ballet has both its positives and negatives as a discipline, it's shaped me, and everyone else, I'm sure, in both good and not-so-good ways.

 

On Wednesday, I attended a photo shoot with Misty Copeland, a soloist at American Ballet Theatre.  Misty started ballet at 13, which is pretty late for a woman, but fell in love with it and made the choice to pursue it as a career.  It's a good thing she did, too, since she's an absolutely beautiful and amazingly talented dancer.

 

Since I last wrote from Las Palmas so much has happened!

In Las Palmas, I danced "Rubies" in our Ultimate Balanchine program. There were a few casting changes and I ended up with James as my partner (James to the rescue again!).  The change came right before the performance, and James and I had only a little time to rehearse together that day. It was a little scary but also a lot of fun for us.