Ballet Training

Ask Amy: Tips for Hopping on Pointe

New York City Ballet's Lauren King demonstrating hops on pointe. Photo by Nathan Sayers for Dance Spirit.

I have really high arches and find it very difficult to hop on pointe. Do you have any tips? —Maria


Once you get the hang of hops on pointe, they're a lot of fun. But you need to have a fairly decent amount of strength and a healthy dose of fearlessness to do them well. However, dancers with beautifully high insteps and flexible ankles tend to struggle with them because their increased range of motion results in less stability.

First, practice making the proper shape with your feet while in plié on pointe. A surefire way to break an ankle is to push over the shoes' platforms. Instead, you need to pull back and clench the feet as the legs plié, making a cupped, cashew-nut shape. I know, not pretty. But that shape will give you the proper support when pushing off and landing on the tips of your toes. Start simply at the barre: In sous-sus, practice slow, simple pliés without the hop. As your legs bend, hold the ankles strongly, cupping the feet (as opposed to pressing over your shoes), so that your center of gravity continues going straight down. Notice your hamstrings working as you plié and straighten—those muscles will help support and control your take off and landings, as well as take pressure off your poor toenails.

After practicing pliés in sous-sus, try gentle soubresauts and changements at the barre. Think about staying light and lifted through the body as you land (with the help of your hamstrings), as opposed to slamming the toes into the floor. Once you feel more secure, try one-footed hops in attitude devant and derrière before graduating to practicing in the center. Ask your teacher to watch carefully as you practice, so she can help correct any improper placement.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

Summer Intensive Survival
Getty Images

There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

Keep reading... Show less
Trending
The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

Keep reading... Show less