Web Exclusive - Ask Amy

I generally break my pointe shoes quickly, and some of the people at my studio glue theirs to make them last longer. Does this really work? If so, where should I glue them exactly? —Juliae  
Yes! I am an avid shoe gluer—in fact, I don’t know how I got by without it in the past. Not only do my shoes last longer, they maintain their shape better. Since industrial-strength superglues, like Jet Glue or Daniel’s Pointe Shoe Glue, are pretty strong and noxious, use them sparingly and carefully to avoid skin contact. And make sure you don’t purchase conventional superglue in gel form—it doesn’t dry smoothly and will leave hard, crusty lumps on the inside of your box.

Where to glue differs from person to person depending on where you need extra support. For instance, the tips of my boxes soften and warp quickly, so before I even wear a new pair I squirt a small amount of glue inside the tip. As they break in, I gradually add more inside the box, leaving the metatarsal and bunion area glue-free so I can fully articulate my foot through demi-pointe. Once my shoes are near death, I add a bit of glue to the canvas material adjacent to the shank for extra support around my arch. Of course, what works for me might not work for you. Some dancers add glue directly to the shank, while others squirt a small area of the arch on the outer sole. You may have to do a few trial runs before you figure out what works best.

A few things to keep in mind: Don’t go overboard—only use what you absolutely need or you’ll end up with a rock-hard, slippery and seriously uncomfortable brick on the end of your foot. Avoid spilling glue on the drawstrings at all costs because once hardened, they will snap right off, and watch out for debris or loose threads inside the box (I carry a square of sandpaper in my dance bag to help smooth out any prickly spots). Leave plenty of time for the glue to dry before wearing your shoes again to avoid damaging your toe pads (and toes!). And lastly, this stuff spills like crazy and wreaks havoc on your dance bag—in fact, one of the zippers on my backpack was glued permanently shut after my bottle leaked. Make sure the cap is securely closed, keep it in a baggie and store it on a flat surface, right side up.

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

Keep reading... Show less
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."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

Keep reading... Show less
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:

Keep reading... Show less