Used as a dietary supplement for centuries, honey is more than just a sweet treat. Among its natural health benefits are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it can even fight bacteria. If you need a pick-me-up during a long day in the studio, add a spoonful of raw honey to your afternoon snack. (It's minimally processed and is more nutritious than regular honey.) Try mixing it into plain yogurt or drizzling it over fruit—the natural sugars will give you a quick energy boost. Read on to see what else honey can do.
Former New York City Ballet principal dancer and Dance Theatre of Harlem founder Arthur Mitchell passed away today in a Manhattan hospital. He was 84 years old.
Mitchell originated the role of Puck in Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Oleaga Photography, Courtesy DM Archives
As a leading dancer with NYCB in the 1950s and '60s, Mitchell became indelibly associated with two roles created on him by George Balanchine: the central pas de deux in Agon (1957) and Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1962). Mitchell's performance of the athletic, entwining Agon pas de deux with Diana Adams—a white woman—caused a major stir during a moment in which America was rife with racial tension.
Earlier this summer, we followed master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based The Pointe Shop as she made her on a pointe shoe fitting tour around the West Coast and California. Now she's back, this time on a 45-day tour from California to Chicago, educating students on all things pointe shoes and helping them to find their perfect fit. Lee's making stops at top ballet companies and academies across the country, interviewing school directors and chatting with professional ballerinas to find out how they customize and break in their pointe shoes. Below, check out Lee's stop at Colorado Ballet. She touches base with principal dancer Dana Benton and academy director Erica Fischbach. Stay tuned for more!
For the last few years, World Ballet Day has transfixed millions of ballet lovers with its hours and hours of live-streamed classes, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes extras from major companies around the globe. (We here at Pointe certainly don't get any work done!) The 2018 edition is right around the corner—but things will be a bit different this time, especially for ballet fans in the Western Hemisphere.
For one thing, WBD is only 12 hours this year, and you'll need to prepare for losing a full night's sleep—or perhaps plan a fun slumber party—to enjoy live coverage. Hosted by Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and The Royal Ballet, streaming begins on WBD's Facebook page in Melbourne on October 2 and ends at 5 pm London time. However, for folks in North America, that means 9pm EST/6pm PST on Monday, October 1 through 12pm EST/9am PST on October 2. In past years, the National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet helped host the event, but they are not participating this time (which may explain the shorter schedule).
All dancers have their go-to tension area: shoulders that creep up towards the ears, a hand that becomes a claw, or feet and ankles that grip. Yet "Just relax" can be the hardest correction to apply. We spoke with four teachers for their tips on releasing tension throughout the body—and how it's all connected.
Neck and Shoulders
Whether you hunch, hike or just seize up, a tense neck and shoulders can really get in the way: You won't be able to spot freely or bend fully, limiting your expressive possibilities. Saland believes that inflexibility in the upper spine often results in tension in the neck and shoulders. "Emotions get expressed through the arms and shoulders rather than through the midline," she says.
Finis Jhung, longtime ballet teacher at the Ailey Extension in New York City, adds that our smartphone obsession isn't helping: "People are so used to being caved in, they have this hunch."
"The best thing to do," says Saland, "is go to the side of the room and actually increase the tension." Scrunch up your face, pull up your shoulders, ball your hands into fists. After a moment, relax. You should feel a new freedom in your neck, upper back and shoulders.
Jhung encourages dancers to literally dance from their heart: "If movement is not coming from the center of your body, it looks shallow." Saland agrees, adding that "not everybody is ready to have their heart open." To help her dancers address both issues, she gives a special reverence. While breathing into your back, imagine pulling a golden thread forward, offering something precious "from the back of the bottom of your heart."
To deal with smartphone-related posture and tension, Jhung gives the following exercise: Interlace your fingers and place your hands at the back of your head. Push forward, and then press your head back into your hands. The muscles in your upper back will engage as your head finds its place atop your spine.
Over the past year, the #MeToo movement has helped spotlight sexual harassment, as well as verbal and emotional abuse, in the ballet industry. Most recently, a lawsuit filed by Alexandra Waterbury against New York City Ballet and principal dancer Chase Finlay, who has since resigned, revealed particularly chilling behavior. Earlier this week, we posted an article that struck a nerve with our audience. We've received some heated responses about the story's prompt and tone. We hear you, and we want to take this opportunity to give you a voice to address concerns and ask questions about recent claims of abuse in the ballet world.
Dancers, students and dance parents: how have these revelations shaped your view of the dance industry, and what worries you most? What changes do you want to see from leadership to address them? Professional dancers, what advice or insight would you give students and those in their early career about what to expect in the professional world?
We want to hear from you. Please feel free to comment or to send your thoughts to email@example.com.
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New York City Ballet fired principal dancers Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro on Saturday. Both had initially been suspended until 2019 for engaging in "inappropriate communications," while principal Chase Finlay, who was the instigator of those communications, resigned. (Although, in a statement on Saturday, NYCB made it clear they had decided to terminate Finlay prior to his resignation.)
Earlier this summer, we followed master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based The Pointe Shop as she made her on a pointe shoe fitting tour around the West Coast and California. Now she's back, this time on a 45-day tour from California to Chicago, educating students on all things pointe shoes and helping them to find their perfect fit. Lee's making stops at top ballet companies and academies across the country, interviewing school directors and chatting with professional ballerinas to find out how they customize and break in their pointe shoes. Below, check out Lee's first stop: Nevada Ballet Theatre. She touches base with company dancer Caroline MacDonald, and academy director Anna Lantz. Stay tuned for more!
Longer ballet skirts are having a major moment. We've seen them popping up in the Instagram studio clips of dance fashionistas around the world—from American Ballet Theatre's Isabella Boylston to The Royal Ballet's Beatriz Stix-Brunell to Berlin State Ballet's Iana Salenko. And with cooler weather on the way, we have a feeling we'll be seeing even more calf-length skirts.
Beyond being trendy, long ballet skirts give any studio ensemble a sophisticated prima ballerina vibe (hi, Natalia Makarova). Try out one of these long skirt options.
Tricia Albertson, as told to Gavin Larsen.
I like to make people laugh, so I was excited to be cast as the Mad Ballerina in Jerome Robbins' The Concert. But the character herself didn't feel like me. She's so bubbly and excited, and I'm a bit more pensive (when it comes to ballet, at least). I didn't want her to come across as stupid—she's still thoughtful. I guess you could say she's flighty, but it's just that she's so excited about the music at the concert that everything else is a blur to her.
This Thursday, we're throwing it all the way back to Fanny Elssler, one of the most famous ballerinas of the Romantic period. Elssler may have graced stages far before the age of reality TV and Instagram, but her story is anything but dry. Last week, the Historic New Orleans Collection put on a symposium on the history of dance in New Orleans, of which Elssler played a pivotal role. We spoke with dance historian Olga Smoak to find out more about why this ballerina is still so exciting... nearly 200 years later.
But first, watch a recreation of Elssler's famous "La Cachucha," which she performed in New Orleans in 1841, danced by Rebecca Allen at the HNOC last week. Note the extreme tilts of the torso; they're part of what made Elssler such a captivating dancer in her day.