Viral Videos
Biscuit Ballerina, aka Shelby Williams. Photo by Nicha Rodboon, Courtesy Williams.

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based The Pointe Shop interviewed Royal Ballet of Flanders dancer Shelby Williams and her Instagram-famous alter ego, Biscuit Ballerina. First, watch Biscuit turn the tables and (hilariously) find the perfect pointe shoes for Lee. Then check out Williams' tips on customizing pointe shoes for advanced students and pros.

Pro Pointe Shoe Hacks From Biscuit Ballerina youtu.be

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Just for fun
Shelby Williams as her alter ego, Biscuit Ballerina. Photo by Nicha Rodbon, Courtesy Williams.

Last fall, Instagram's dance community blew up when an account titled Biscuit Ballerina started posting videos of an anonymous dancer doing laughably bad ballet. With a look of fierce determination, she would awkwardly make her way through well-known variations, stumbling over her pointe shoes. Comments ranged from hilarity to criticism to confusion: Who was this dancer?

The answer is Shelby Williams, a soloist with Royal Ballet of Flanders. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Williams didn't become serious about ballet until age 11. At 15 she left home to train year-round at The Washington School of Ballet, and a year later transferred to the Houston Ballet Academy, where she quickly entered Houston Ballet II. As a student, Williams often felt crippled by self-criticism. "I was doing something I was passionate about every day, but I hated it," she says. Eventually she went to a sports psychologist who helped her learn how to enjoy the process and not take herself too seriously. After class, instead of feeling ashamed by the mistakes she'd made, Williams started to overexaggerate what she'd done, making herself and her classmates laugh.

Shelby Williams. Photo by Kensilav Kanev/De-Da Productions, Courtesy Williams.

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Trending
Shelby Williams as her alter ego, Biscuit Ballerina. Photo by Nicha Rodbon, Courtesy Williams.

Last fall, Instagram's dance community blew up when an account titled Biscuit Ballerina started posting videos of an anonymous dancer doing laughably bad ballet. With a look of fierce determination, she would awkwardly make her way through well-known variations, stumbling over her pointe shoes. Comments ranged from hilarity to criticism to confusion: Who was this dancer?

The answer is Shelby Williams, a soloist with Royal Ballet of Flanders. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Williams didn't become serious about ballet until age 11. At 15 she left home to train year-round at The Washington School of Ballet, and a year later transferred to the Houston Ballet Academy, where she quickly entered Houston Ballet II. As a student, Williams often felt crippled by self-criticism. "I was doing something I was passionate about every day, but I hated it," she says. Eventually she went to a sports psychologist who helped her learn how to enjoy the process and not take herself too seriously. After class, instead of feeling ashamed by the mistakes she'd made, Williams started to overexaggerate what she'd done, making herself and her classmates laugh.

Shelby Williams as herself. Photo by Kensilav Kanev/De-Da Productions, Courtesy Williams.

Williams as Biscuit. Photo by Nicha Rodboon, Courtesy Williams.


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Just for fun
Biscuit Ballerina's unmatched elegance captured alongside greyhound Willow by Dancers & Dogs.

With their idea of pairing professional ballerinas and super-sweet pups, we didn't think it was possible for Dancers & Dogs to get any better. But boy were we wrong. For their latest collaboration, husband-and-wife photography team Kelly Pratt Kreidich and Ian Kreidich brought out the big biscuits (literally) by shooting Biscuit Ballerina with greyhounds Willow and Ziva—because it takes two greyhounds to try to match BB's grace, obviously.

Biscuit Ballerina strikes a pose with retired race dog and rescue, Ziva.

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Ballet Careers
Dorger in Royal Danish Ballet's production of Giselle (photo by Costin Radu, courtesy Royal Danish Ballet)

When Holly Dorger arrived in Copenhagen to join the Royal Danish Ballet after graduating from the School of American Ballet, she was shocked by the unfamiliar. “We brought home cat food thinking it was canned tuna," she laughs, recollecting her first weeks among new surroundings. Nine years later, the principal dancer calls Copenhagen home, crediting Denmark and artistic director Nikolaj Hübbe for her success.

European dance companies typically offer secure contracts, better salaries and a varied repertoire. Yet for American dancers, understanding a new culture, adjusting to different company dynamics and getting used to European contemporary work can be challenging. Below, dancers from four European companies weigh in on what they've learned from moving abroad.

Shelby Williams. Photo Courtesy Royal Ballet of Flanders.

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