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What to Watch: Misty Copeland and Ingrid Silva Push Pointe Shoe Brands Toward Inclusivity on "The Today Show"

Yesterday, pointe shoes made national news when "The Today Show" covered the shift that some brands have made towards creating shoes in shades of brown. The five-minute Sunday Spotlight segment, hosted by NBC's Willie Geist and Morgan Radford, includes interviews with Misty Copeland, Ingrid Silva, Virginia Johnson and Eliza Gaynor Minden.


Silva, a star dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, shows her pancaking process, and shares her wish that more pointe shoe brands would catch up so that she could skip this painstaking extra step. Radford explains Arthur Mitchell's decision in the 1970s to have his Dance Theatre of Harlem ballerinas dye their shoes to match their skin tone; Johnson, the company's current artistic director and a founding member, shares her memory of the impact of that first performance. "When the curtain went up you saw a range of people in all different skin tones," she says. "It was the most exquisite thing to see."

Copeland points out that buying shoes that come in only one color–"European pink"–says so much about ballet's historical lack of diversity, and sends an underlying message to young dancers. Radford highlights Gaynor Minden as the first company to debut shoes in shades of brown, thanks to its founder Eliza Gaynor Minden's steadfast commitment to inclusivity. More recently, Freed of London announced its collaboration with BalletBlack to create the first diverse skin tone pointe shoes in the U.K.

While this move towards increased inclusivity isn't news to most bunheads, it's always exciting to see issues of importance to the ballet community elevated to the national stage. Geist ends the segment with the hope that more brands catch on soon. Check it out now!

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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