The Anatomy of Pointe Shoes

Learning to dance ‘en pointe’ takes incredible strength from so many parts of your body and the bones in your feet need to be fully developed, too. Many dancers will have been dancing for a number of years before they’ll be ready to dance en pointe. Once your ballet teacher has told you that you’re ready to dance en pointe, it’s time to get yourself a pair of your first pointe shoes.

It’s common for ballet teachers to accompany their students when they’re purchasing their first pair of pointe shoes. This will ensure that they get the perfect fit, which is absolutely crucial when dancing on pointe.

Pointe shoes are very different to conventional ballet slippers, with a number of additions to allow dancers to be able to complete more advanced dance moves. The different parts of pointe shoes include:

pointe shoes

Box

The box sits in the front of the pointe shoe and lightly encases the dancer’s toes. The box serves to support the toes in order to allow the dancer to dance en pointe.

Platform

The platform is the flat exterior of the box that the dancer balances on. It is usually made of multiple layers of stiffened paper and fabric and covered with delicate satin.

Vamp

The vamp of a pointe shoe is the length of the toe box from the platform to the throat. The vamp allows the dancer to tailor her pointe shoes according to the shape of her foot and experience en pointe.

Drawstring

The drawstring is designed to keep the pointe shoe firmly in place. The ribbons and the drawstring work together to ensure that the pointe shoe is securely fitted to the ballerina’s foot.

Shank

The shank is a piece of stiff material, typically made from redboard or leatherboard. The shank is used to stiffen the sole of pointe shoes to help support a ballerina’s foot as she dances en pointe.

Throat

The Throat is the opening of the shoe nearest to the toes. The throat can be v-shaped or rounded, depending on the preferred aesthetic of the shoe, as well as the anatomy of the dancer’s foot.

Wings

The wings are the stiff sides of pointe shoes which help to provide lateral support while dancing en pointe.

Ribbons

Although they make the pointe shoes look incredibly elegant, they aren’t just there for show. The ribbons help to secure the pointe shoe onto the dancer’s feet.

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The Ultimate Guide To Ballet Clothes

After deciding on ballet as the right dance class for your child, the next step is to kit them out with ballet clothes for their classes. For first-timers, the world of ballet clothes can be a bit of a minefield, with a vast array of leotards, ballet shoes and tutu’s available to buy. But our ultimate guide to ballet clothes will help you to kit your child out with the perfect uniform for their exciting new hobby.

Why Are Specific Ballet Clothes Required?

Much like any other schools, ballet schools usually require each student to wear a specific uniform. This is not to take the fun out of ballet classes, but the ballet clothes actually help the teacher to assess whether or not your child is performing each movement correctly and safely.

The tight-fitting ballet uniform allows the teacher to be able to see their student’s entire form, helping them to closely monitor each movement. A good ballerina performs each movement with incredible accuracy, so it’s important for the teacher to be able to correct any mistakes in posture as early as possible before it becomes a habit.

Another reason for that classic ballet uniform is to adhere to tradition. As one of the oldest, most established dance genres, ballet clothes have changed over the years. But people have been wearing the leotard and tights combination since the early 1900s and it is deemed one of the most practical outfits for the dance genre, especially for beginners.

ballet clothes

Check With Your Ballet School

One of the easiest ways to narrow down your choices of ballet clothes is to discuss it with the dance teacher or studio beforehand. Some ballet schools have a relaxed approach to ballet clothes, preferring their students to arrive in something practical and comfortable, whereas other ballet schools insist on a strict uniform or colour scheme in their classes.

If there’s no uniform, ask the teacher what they’d recommend for their class.

Leotards

Perhaps the most common piece of ballet clothing is a leotard. Leotards are skin-tight, one-piece garments which cover the majority of the torso, but leave the arms and legs exposed. Leotards come in many different varieties, so you’ve got a huge choice of colour, design and fit.

The most common style of leotard has thin shoulder straps, known as a camisole leotard. However, short and long-sleeved leotards are also available depending on your preference. As for neck lines, leotards generally have a wide, round neckline, but there are plenty of other options available, including v-necks and halter necks.

Usually made of cotton and lycra, leotards help to ensure safety and maximise movement during ballet lessons, ensuring your child can get the most out of their classes.

Leotards are usually teamed with pale pink ballet tights or socks, which leads us onto the next item of ballet clothing.

Tights Or Socks

Ballet tights or socks are an essential part of any budding ballerina’s uniform. Ballet tights are usually very pale pink and are much thicker and more durable than regular tights. They are also stretchier than regular tights to allow for more movement and are typically made from a blend of nylon and spandex.

ballet clothes

Ballet Shoes

Ballet shoes are, without a doubt, the star of the show. Ballet shoes will be worn the majority of the time during ballet classes and help to support the ballerina’s feet, as well as helping to prevent them from sticking or slipping on the floor.

Most ballet shoes come with elastics which need to be sewn onto each side of the shoe. This helps to keep the shoe firmly in place on the foot.

The most common kind of ballet shoes for beginners are completely flat and made out of either satin or leather with a thin and flexible sole. They will be worn the majority of the time during ballet classes and help to support the ballerina’s feet.

It’s important to choose the right ballet shoes according to experience, as there are a few varieties of ballet shoes to choose from, including:

  • Soft Ballet Shoes
  • Full Sole Ballet Shoes
  • Split Sole Ballet Shoes
  • Pointe Shoes

ballet clothes

Hair Accessories

You may have noticed that ballerinas never have a single hair out of place and have it pulled back into a neat bun on the crown of their head. To help you to achieve the perfect ballerina bun, you’ll need to get your hands on a hair donut, elastic bands, a hair net and plenty of grips. This will ensure that your child’s hair will stay in place throughout the entire ballet class.

At Dancing Daisy we have got a huge variety of ballet clothes and accessories, so you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for to start your dancing career in style.

A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Dance Wear

If you’ve recently joined a dance class, you’ll have seen other class members in dance wear. It can be extremely intimidating when buying dancewear for the first time, especially for certain styles of dance such as ballet, but you should take comfort in the fact that every dancer has felt the same way at some point. Here at Dancing Daisy, we have a wealth of experience helping people to choose the most appropriate dance wear for their classes whilst ensuring your complete comfort and confidence. Continue reading

Picking the right dance class for your child

With so many benefits, dance is a popular hobby or activity for young’uns to take up. Not only is it popular for the kids themselves, but for the parents too. A fun and social way to use up children’s seemingly everlasting energy, a dance class provides an outlet where children can pick up new skills and interests, as well as friends.

With so many options out there, how do you go about picking the right dance class for your child? We offer you our top tips!

Choose the style

There are so many different styles of dance to choose from, all with different attributes that may or may not appeal to your child, but all beneficial to them in some way. The wide variety of dance classes available to people of all ages can seem a little overwhelming, but they won’t necessarily all click with kids.

With some children, the idea of starting a weekly ballet class will create utter excitement, but for others, the grace, balance and co-ordination of ballet might not match up with them so well. Perhaps something more modern and contemporary would suit your child better?

Here are just a few examples of dance classes you’ll find:

  • Ballet
  • Tap dancing
  • Jazz
  • Hip hop
  • Modern or contemporary dance
  • Folk dancing
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Swing dancing
  • Street dance
  • And many, many more!

Ask around

Don’t feel you have to jump right in at the deep end and go for a dance class you know nothing about. When choosing for your child, it’s easy enough to pick up recommendations from their friends’ parents, or even just parents and teachers you see on the school run.

They might have some good suggestions based on experience, or based on what they think would work well for your child and their personality. That way, you can help to build friendships and bonds for during the school hours and outside of them too. The school may even have some after-hours classes going!

Do your research

It’s good to do your own research too, rather than basing your decision on what other people say. Some children will enjoy very different things to your child, and some classes won’t be as suitable for you either.

You want to find somewhere that works well for you – you will most likely be the designated taxi driver after all.  A local class is ideal for the busy lifestyle of a parent, helping you to save on time and travelling.

It’s important that you also look into the quality of the classes or the venue. Are the teachers fully qualified? Is this level of dance suitable for your child? These are just a few things to think about before committing to a specific class.

Think about progression

Another thing you have to think about is the potential of progression in these dance classes for your child. What do you want out of these classes? Are you looking for a simple hobby for your child, or maybe something that could develop into a serious passion and hobby?

Dance classes often offer the chance to take part in performances and competitions, as well as exams where you can achieve certification and reach higher levels of dance. With classes like ballet dancing, this can be a source of motivation and drive for children to prosper and move their skills forward. However, it can be off-putting to those kids who just want to go and have fun.

Make sure you know what exactly what you’re signing up for. The last thing you want is for your child to feel pressured or feel held back by the rest of the class. Dance classes should be an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Try it out

What better way to see if your child will like a class than for them to go and try it out? A lot of dance teachers and dance classes will allow people sitting in on classes, whether you choose to join in or watch from the sidelines. It gives you a chance for a real taster of the session, giving you an idea of what they’re all about.

You want to make sure that there’s something there for your child to make them want to keep coming back! Going in and seeing a class in action gives you a vibe of what to expect, and a chance to meet and speak to the teacher – an important thing to do before making your final decision.

Schedule it in

When it comes to regular dance classes, or any type of hobby for that matter, you need to consider both the child and yourself. Are you able to make it on a weekly basis to drop off and pick up? Is there a way you can arrange a car share with another parent? At the end of the day, it can be a commitment, but it’s a commitment filled with benefits for your child.

Don’t forget to think about costs either. Of course, weekly hobbies and classes can add up and the overall cost is more than just the lesson itself. Think about the outfits and the shoes for example.

Luckily for parents like you, there are affordable places out there where you can get quality dancewear for a reasonable price (hello Dancing Daisy!). Have a browse through our wide selection of dancewear, suitable for all ages and levels of dance.

7 of the most famous ballets that you should see

Ballet is a popular form of entertainment, and has been for a very long time; it’s something that has been enjoyed since way before the time of movies and television.

As part of the theatre, ballet is an art form. No one can deny the beauty of its all-encompassing and seamless blend of music and dance to tell a story. Ballet performances are extremely powerful and inspirational for people to watch. Their visually appealing and musical nature amplifies the emotions of the performance, letting the story resonate even more in your mind.

We take a look at some of the most famous and most commonly performed ballets worldwide that should not be missed…

Swan Lake

 

Composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in the 1870s, Swan Lake has come to be known as one of the most famous and most popular of all ballets. When people are discussing ballets, it’s unlikely that Swan Lake will go without mention. Capturing our hearts for almost a century and a half, it’s certainly a must-see classic.

The story follows young Prince Siegfried who one day, sees a beautiful swan that transforms into a woman in front of his very eyes. That woman? The infamous Swan Queen Odette, of course. She tells him of the terrible spell that a sorcerer cast over her and her companions; by day they are turned into swans and only at night do they return to human form.

Throughout, Swan Lake tells a tale of love and betrayal, but ultimately proves the power of good over evil. It’s a performance that is comprised of both visual beauty and impressive music that renders high emotion and awe, proving it to be a ballet that far exceeds its time.

Swan Lake 1

The Nutcracker

 

The Nutcracker is another timeless classic that will undoubtedly be mentioned when talking about different ballets, and it’s another one by Tchaikovsky too. Based on the book ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ by ETA Hoffman and composed a little later than Swan Lake in the 1890s, it’s grown to be one of the most performed ballets in the modern era.

Mostly associated with the festive season, The Nutcracker outperforms any other ballet in the month of December, and makes for a fantastic Christmas treat for the entire family. Its magical performance features stunning dances and captivating songs that both children and adults will enjoy – and not to mention, it will get them excited for Christmas!

The story of The Nutcracker revolves around a young German girl who embarks on an exciting yet tumultuous journey with the Nutcracker. From Christmas Eve through to Christmas morning, young Marie Stahlbaum witnesses a battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King, is whisked away to magical kingdom populated by dolls, and meets the Sugar Plum Fairy. But, is it all a dream?

The Nutcracker

Giselle

 

Known as one of the greatest romantic ballets worldwide, Giselle tells a tale of the power of love. However, it’s not all easy and breezy for the characters in this story.

The ballet is about a peasant girl called Giselle who dies of a broken heart after finding out the man she loves is getting married to another woman. She is summoned from her grave by The Wilis, a group of supernatural women who use the power of dance to kill men, with the aim of her lover’s death. But Giselle’s love conquers, and frees him from their deathly grips.

The music of this ballet is as magical as the storyline, composed by the infamous opera and ballet composer, Adolphe Adam. And there’s the choreography to match! With such a mixture of magic, drama and musical talent, it’s all too easy for Giselle to cast its supernatural powers over you.

Giselle

Romeo and Juliet

 

This ballet was composed by Sergei Prokofiev in 1935, and it tells the tragic love story, originally written by William Shakespeare, through the art of dance. We know the play is a popular and well-known one, and the ballet is too. Almost every ballet company in the world will have a production of Romeo and Juliet under their belt.

The tale of the two star-crossed lovers is brought to life by Prokofiev in four acts and ten scenes, with 52 separate dances in total. Romeo and Juliet depicts all of the classic topics of Shakespearean plays: love at first sight, revenge, and death. Its dramatic storyline is certainly one of the very best tragedies to date, and is not one to be missed.

Romeo and Juliet

Sleeping Beauty

 

Sleeping Beauty is one of the first successful ballets that Tchaikovsky composed, along with the infamous and aforementioned Swan Lake. Whilst it’s not quite the Disney movie, it follows the story of Princess Aurora, from her christening through to the day of her marriage.

However, it’s not all a happy story for the Princess. On the day of her christening, Aurora is cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and sleep for 100 years. The only way she can be saved is true love’s first kiss, and that she gets. The ballet ends with a happily ever after, with Aurora marrying the handsome prince that awakened her from her deep slumber.

Known as one of the most beautiful ballets in terms of music and dance, it comes as no surprise that the role of Aurora is one that is sort after by many ballerinas. It doesn’t come without its challenges though; the role demands real strength and talent, as well flawless technique.

Sleeping Beauty

Coppelia

 

The wonderful thing about ballet is that there are so many shows out there that are enjoyable for the whole family – for the young and old alike! Coppelia is one of those ballets, without a doubt. It was composed by Delibes and choreographed by Arthur Saint-Leon, originating in the 19th century: the golden age of classical ballet.

It tells an enchanting tale of a toymaker named Dr Coppelius and his marvellous creation of Coppelia, the doll. Dr Coppelius was quite clueless to the stir he’d cause by placing this beautiful doll on his workshop balcony…

Coppelia portrays the contrast between idealism and realism in a story that is filled with a little bit of magic, a little bit of love and a little bit of confusion. It’s a light-hearted performance that everyone can enjoy.

Coppelia

Don Quixote

 

Don Quixote is a historical ballet, based on the epic modern novel by Miguel de Cervantes with the full title Don Quixote de la Mancha. First performed in 1869 in Moscow, Russia, the show has gained reputation for one of the greatest ballets to date.

Following the character of Don Quixote and his quest to become a knight, the story sees a series of adventures for the protagonist. He slays mythical beasts and does all the good he can for anyone he meets in his bid for chivalry.

Often considered to be quite different from other ballets, this performance requires an older dancer to play the main character as he begins his adventures later on in life. That said, it’s a performance filled with fun, great music and some incredible choreography. Don Quixote has a charm that won’t fail to impress.

Don Quixote

The benefits of learning classical ballet for children

Ballet is a popular hobby for children to take up when they are younger, and there are so many reasons why. Not only do ballet classes give children a chance to gain a new interest and skill, but learning the dance presents them with physical, psychological, social and educational benefits too.

The dance has so many positives to it, so when it is learnt at a young age, it can enhance development in every aspect of a child’s growing life… and beyond!

We decided to look at just how taking up ballet can benefit your kids, from its benefits of exercise and fitness right through to the expansion of cultural understanding.

benefits-of-ballet

Physical benefits

As a form of exercise, ballet sees a number of physical benefits for those that learn or practice it. It’s a great way to keep young boys and girls active as it’s a fun sport to learn and engage with on a regular basis. Plus, it means less time spent in front of a television, tablet or computer screen!

Exercise in whatever form is important to people of all ages, helping to reduce the risks of obesity and to improve health and wellbeing generally. With any exercise comes an improvement in endurance, stamina, and cardiovascular health, so taking on active sports at an early age will continue to serve your children well, later on in life too.

Ballet dancing can be physically demanding, even at a beginner’s level, but over time dancers will achieve improved muscular strength and flexibility that will help them to progress in the sport. We can’t fail to mention the guaranteed improvement in flexibility and coordination either, which can become particularly useful when learning other dances or dance techniques.

Want to see how you can improve your flexibility more? You’ll love this handy infographic!

Psychological benefits

Firstly, all types of regular exercise are beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Anything from a laidback weekly yoga session to far more intense weight sessions in the gym can boost both your mood and mind, reducing any signs of stress significantly.

Ballet, in particular, presents those that practice it with an array of benefits for their mind, which not only prove useful in the art of dance but also in various other areas in life too.

How about the level of focus and concentration that all dancers must grasp? Or what about the necessity for them to remember sequences of steps and routines? And not to mention the confidence and self-esteem it can take to perform in front of crowds and shows and performances.

Think about it: these fundamental elements of ballet will prove useful in both dance classes and in school classes too!

benefits-of-ballet

Social benefits

As well as being a fun activity for children to do once or twice a week, ballet can help to improve your young one’s social skills at the same time too. By committing them to regular classes, they can interact with other children outside of school, giving them the chance to form new friendships and experiences that they might not otherwise have.

Of course, it’s not all about fun. With learning any new skill in a class, there has to be an element of discipline; however, this can truly benefit all children in terms of following instruction. In fact, ballet is known to be particularly beneficial to hyperactive children as it allows them to focus their energy on learning and performing the dance.

Dance enhances expression of the self for all those that take part, impacting not only their poise and posture but also the way that they assert themselves in social situations.

Educational benefits

Besides the fact they teach a new form of art, ballet classes have a variety of educational benefits that can prove particularly useful for dancers of all ages, particularly young dancers. Learning ballet at a young age is one way to enlighten children to art and culture, or to enrich their interest and understanding of such things.

By promoting an interest in music and the arts of performance, ballet classes can enhance children’s artistic development– and not to mention, their language skills by picking up a few handy French phrases along the way!

benefits-of-ballet

And the benefits continue…

The benefits don’t just stop with children, they continue on for men and women of all ages, whatever level they are at. Partaking in ballet – or taking it up at a later age – can benefit adult health and wellbeing in a number of significant ways.

On top of the advantages that we’ve already mentioned, ballet has been proven to help beat those aches and pains that are oh-so common as we all get older, and it’s even known to reduce the risk of dementia.

Ballet exercises to improve your flexibility

Whether you dance to classical, modern, jazz or hip-hop music, strength and flexibility are very important, whatever your age. Stretching regularly or on a daily basis is essential to both promote the movement of your body, and avoid any nasty injuries.

In this handy infographic, we have a look at some of the main exercises you can do to boost your flexibility and your dancing ability…

ballet-exercises-infographic