Need an excuse for a YouTube ballet break? Probably not, but just in case, here are videos to celebrate some of this month's off-the-beaten-path holidays.


Lame Duck Day (February 6)

Did you know that February 6 is Lame Duck Day? "Lame duck" can only mean one thing in the realm of ballet: those love-them-or-hate-them turns that pop up in center combos and onstage in Odette's Act II variation. Enjoy Marianela Nuñez's dreamy sequence of lame ducks (aka pique turn en dehors) in The Royal Ballet's 2009 Swan Lake. It's not hard to see why she was chosen to reprise the role in the company's much anticipated new production last year. (When you think about it, though, it's kind of ironic that the Swan Queen performs "lame ducks," isn't it? Then again, the Little Swans dance the "step of the cat"!)

Umbrella Day (February 10)

Apparently we also have a day to honor umbrellas. You know the saying about learning to dance in the rain—and if you can dance in the rain with your crush, it's twice the fun! In this adorable, romantic pas de deux from the 2011 Bolshoi Ballet Academy's production of La fille mal gardée, then-students Joy Womack and Mario Labrador dance under an umbrella as Lise and Colas. #OnstageRelationshipGoals

Cherry Pie Day (February 20)

February 20 is Cherry Pie Day! There aren't a lot of ballets that depict eating onstage. But in this playful, lighthearted moment from Sir Frederick Ashton's A Month in the Country, former Royal Ballet principals Sarah Wildor and Bruce Sansom share a snack of cherries. Then, they burst into a joyous, energetic duet (a little sugar will do that, right?).

Public Sleeping Day (February 28)

This February 28th, we honor the power nap. Princess Aurora's tips for sleeping in public? Pick a comfy tutu to nap in, skip the covers and, above all, remember to turn out and point your feet. In this 2015 clip, Royal Ballet principal Sarah Lamb rocks the technique of onstage balletic sleeping as Steven McCrae's Prince arrives to end the 100-year nap and get everyone back on their dancing feet again.

Ballet Training
Hortense Millet-Maurin (third from left) and her classmates perform August Bournonville's La Conservatoire. Svetlana Loboff, Courtesy POB.

As a little girl, Hortense Millet-Maurin fell in love with the wide spiral staircase that dominates the center of the Paris Opéra Ballet School. Today, as a focused 15-year-old POB student, she and her classmate Vincent Vivet navigate the school's spacious architecture on a daily basis. In a hallway strewn with foam rollers and tennis balls, their faces are laced with concentration as they prepare alongside their peers for afternoon ballet class. Color-coded uniforms reflect Vivet's and Millet-Maurin's third division; with only two advanced divisions remaining, they are increasingly close to realizing their professional aspirations: joining the Paris Opéra Ballet. Pointe spoke with these two young dancers to see what it's like studying inside the world's oldest ballet academy.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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Ballet Training
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Elizabeth Steele of The School at Steps.

If you're feeling wobbly in adagio or wish you could hold your piqué attitude a bit longer, there are ways to assess and improve your balance. Try these four exercises, recommended by Heather Southwick, Boston Ballet's director of physical therapy.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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