Words of Wisdom from Breaking Pointe

All too often, those final rehearsals before a performance make it seem like everything's destined to go wrong on stage. Last night's episode of "Breaking Pointe" showed the Ballet West dancers succombing to that pre-show stress: They struggled with props, they wrestled with tempos, they let their anxiety throw them off.

 

We've all been there. Although there's obviously no such thing as "perfect" in ballet, it's still something every dancer strives for. And the nerves that pressure creates are ludicrous.

 

Artistic director Adam Sklute told the CW cameras that the antidote is confidence. Particularly, he mentioned that perennial stress ball Allison DeBona needed to get out of her head and stop obsessing over every detail. It's a great piece of advice, but one that's easier said than done.

 

A much more helpful—yet equally true—bit of insight came from principal Christiana Bennett: "If you think you've made a mistake, your mind says to you that everybody saw it and everybody thinks you're weaker for it. But actually, that's usually not the case at all!"

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During one of Charlotte Nash's first few weeks with Houston Ballet II, she was thrown into a run-through of Balanchine's Theme and Variations. "I had never really understudied before and I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I fell right away and was quickly replaced." For Nash, now a dancer with Festival Ballet Providence, the episode was a tough lesson. "I was mortified, but then I said to myself, 'Okay, I need to figure out how to learn things more quickly.'"

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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The Joffrey Ballet's Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.

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