The first is http://www.ballebrity.com/ which is the site of my friend Mary Carpenter, a ballet teacher and professional pointe shoe fitter. Because it is that time of year when the girls need to be fitted for their new shoes, you will find links on Mary's site to her YouTube channel with instructional videos about pointe shoes. This is your Ballet Mommy homework! Get your kid in the right shoe, with the right support accessories, especially if they're going up on their toes for the first time. Be prepared for a lot of trial and error until they find what works for them, which of course is subject to change at any moment. This ain't DSW, folks, you can't just yank 'em out of the box and throw 'em on your feet. Save yourself a lot of grief, and get those shoes professionally fitted, and get it done right the first time.
And if you think you're losing your mind after visiting the pointe shoe maker, take a look at this.
I just came across this article in the UK Daily Mail about ballet for older people. It cites several long term studies showing ballet helps stave off the effects of degenerative problems such as Parkinson's disease and dementia.
My first reaction was, "Ballet eases dementia? You haven't met my boys." This being a rather interesting week at our little casa danza. Bad haircut. On an audition day. And I mean a not-enough-chocolate-in-the-world-to-ease-this-misery bad haircut, though we took a stab at trying. Ballet eases dementia? You haven't lived your life in a room full of mirrors and judgment.
But they are onto something. I know a ballet teacher who was himself diagnosed with Parkinson's whose doctor agreed that his fitness regime and ballet discipline were helping him manage the disease. And I thought of the times I encountered Freddie Franklin and David Howard.
Yep. Onto something. Years ago I ditched my treadmill and weight bench and bought my own ballet barre. Paid to have that sucker shipped from Austin to Manhattan too, when I found out that would be cheaper than buying a new one. I still get surprised at the amount of concentration required for a simple tendu combination, and the truth is when you get it, you feel better physically and mentally.
Dancers often talk about getting the movement into your muscle memory. For professionals this frees up their concentration for putting the finishing touches on the movement, the subtle refinements that turn a piece of choreography into a work of art. For the rest of us, and for the pros too, that muscle memory can help create a Zen moment when you need it, losing your cares in the rhythm of the movement.