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Courtesy VAM Productions

Raise your hand if you're excited for competition season! Youth America Grand Prix Regional Semi-Finals are well underway, leading up to the much-awaited New York Finals April 12-19. Even better, they're live-streamed, meaning you now have the perfect excuse to spend your weekend at home, watching ballet (while sewing your pointe shoes and stretching, of course).

This weekend features semi-finals in Seattle, Washington and Tampa, Florida. To see the full schedules and set up streaming, click here. Streaming starts at $13.99. Packages of 2, 4, 6 or 12 total viewing hours are available, and viewers can log in and out as often as they like.

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An interior photo of 14-year-old Em Marie, from Jordan Matter's new book Born to Dance. Photo courtesy Workman Publishing.

Looking for a last-minute gift for your ballet bookworm? Here's a sampling of recently published dance books for bunheads of all kinds, whether they're a health nut, a ballet history buff or just learning to point their toes.

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Viral Videos
Sasha De Sola and Hansuke Yamamoto in George Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy San Francisco Ballet.

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based The Pointe Shop touches base with San Francisco Ballet principal Sasha De Sola on all of her pointe shoe hacks, from darning to stirrup tights to customizations. Plus, we think De Sola might win the award for how quickly she kills her pointe shoes. (Hint: It's under an hour).

SFB Principal Sasha De Sola's Pointe Shoe Hacks www.youtube.com

Ballet Stars
Sasha De Sola wearing a orange shawl. "It's a hand-me-down from my good friend Madison Keesler," she says. "It's so warm and comfortable!" Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.

Among the pointe shoes and fitness tools, San Francisco Ballet principal Sasha De Sola's dance bag is home to mementos from past travels. While on tour to Washington, DC, during her first year with the company, a fellow SFB dancer bought De Sola a patch from Florida, her home state. "I've been carrying it in my bag for 10 years. It has good memories and a little home-state pride," says De Sola. Her travel mug comes from a trip she took to Walt Disney World with friends after the season ended one year. "It brings me a little bit of happiness," she says.


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Ballet Stars
From left: Jennifer Stahl, Lonnie Weeks and Sasha De Sola in rehearsal for Trey McIntyre's new work. Photo by Christian Peacock for Pointe.

Photography by Christian Peacock

Summer is always a lively time at San Francisco Ballet, as the dancers return from vacation and launch into rehearsals for the upcoming season. But last July through September felt absolutely electric with creativity as the company created 12 world premieres for Unbound: A Festival of New Works, a cutting-edge program that will run April 20–May 6 at the War Memorial Opera House.

Artistic director Helgi Tomasson invited a wish list of international choreographers to participate: David Dawson, Alonzo King, Edwaard Liang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cathy Marston, Trey McIntyre, Justin Peck, Arthur Pita, Dwight Rhoden, Myles Thatcher, Stanton Welch and Christopher Wheeldon. Each got about 12 dancers, three weeks' studio time and, aside from a few general guidelines, total artistic freedom.

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