Ballerinas and Their Pointe Shoes

Anyone who is familiar with Ballet knows about the difficult dance routines ballerinas do on their toes. In fact the word, “en pointe,” is French for “on the tips of the toes. “ It’s amazing how ballerinas can build up their strength and flexibility to perform those dances. I would think that their feet must go through many long nights of practice. It appears to me that properly fit shoes and well-kept feet are essential for a good performance. For this reason, I’ve looked into some facts future “en pointe” ballerinas might need to know about their pointe shoes.  I found a few helpful tips online at About.com:

1)     Make sure to get the perfect size when buying your first pointe shoes.  Pointe shoes that are too big or too small can cause injury.

2)     Pointe shoes also have no left or right, making them interchangeable. You want to make sure to wear them as you would regular shoes because they will eventually conform to your feet.

3)     Pointe shoes wear out easily due to the amount of pressure they endure. It’s important to notice when they start wearing out so you can perform with the needed stability.

4)     Let your shoes air out and dry after practice. Moisture from your feet will make the shoes more delicate, and they need to harden up before the next performance/practice.

It must be a very exciting day when a young ballerina gets her first pair on pointe shoes. If you are taking that step toward “en pointe” dancing in the future, hopefully these tips will come in handy. This site also mentioned pointe shoe brands you may want to consider: Capezio, Bloch, Gaynor Minden and Grishko. Remember our Ballet director, Maria Hirsch, is your best resource when it comes to finding what you need for ballet class. Are you ready to take your ballet dancing to the next level?  Visit our website www.ColumbusState.edu/Ballet  or call 706.507.8070 for registration information on future classes.

-Kindra Hunter

Vann, Korky. “Pointe Shoes.” About.com Shoes. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <http://shoes.about.com/od/casualshoes2/qt/pointe_shoes.htm&gt;.

Pedro Becomes Cupid for Valentine’s Day

Pedro’s Latin dance class was really heating up when I stopped by for a visit the other day. It was really nice to see smiles on all of the couple’s faces as they tried to imitate the direction Pedro was giving them. As I snapped a few pictures, I could really see the genuine fun these couples were having. It wasn’t about getting the moves right on the first try or being the best in the dance class; it was about excitement of learning something new with each other.  In a way, Pedro kind of seemed like cupid to me as he was able to encourage couples to draw close to one another and add that zest to their relationship.

Pedro makes his beginners class very comfortable by taking his time to show every detail in the steps. First, he demonstrates the steps piece by piece without the music so you can focus. After a few repetitions, along with smashed toes and giggles, he blasts the spicy Latin music and everyone attempts to dance to the beat. It seems a lot easier once the music starts playing. The catchy rhythms naturally make you want to move.

Unless you already know how to Salsa or Merengue, there really isn’t a reason you and your loved one shouldn’t give this class a try some day. Dancing is a great way to let loose and have some fun. At the end of the day it’s about the time you shared together and the memories you make. It can be refreshing to travel off the beaten path in life by doing something that you two would normally never try.

Classes are starting again very soon! If you want to show your partner how much fun and unpredictably romantic you can be, this is one way to do it. Sign up for classes now at www.ColumbusState.edu/CE, or call us at 706.507.8070.

-Kindra Hunter

Give a Valentine’s Day Gift that Says “I Love You”

Valentine’s Day is a day meant for celebrating love. Every year couples want to show their appreciation for each other through gifts or special gestures. Although we want to show our love, we can have a difficult time trying to figure out what to get for our significant other. I have this problem every year when I try to find a gift for my husband. What does he really want? I assume men have the same question when it comes to women. So for all you guys who don’t know what to get their lovely lady for Valentine’s Day look no further. Latin Dancing with Pedro is one perfect way to say I love you.

What this says to a woman:

  1.  You actually want to spend quality time with them.
  2.  You enjoy learning new things with them.
  3.  You took the time to be creative with your gift choice, which leaves us feeling even more special.
  4.  Because Latin dancing is very sensual in nature, it shows that you desire passion in your relationship.
  5.  Numbers 1-4 equal “I Love You”

These topics should be big point earners. Women want to feel special, and giving a gift that can say all these things will definitely make this an amazing Valentine’s Day for you both! Give the gift of love by learning to dance with your loved one. We also have a variety of other great valentines day options like Sherlock’s Mystery Dinner Theatre on February 16th. Be sure to take a look at our web site.

If you are interested in going the creative/unpredictable route this Valentine’s make sure to visit www.ColumbusState.edu/CE, or call 706.507.8070 for class registration.

The Columbus Ballet Delivers an Outstanding Nutcracker Performance

If you went to see the Nutcracker at the RiverCenter,  you already know how amazing this performance was. Since this was my first time going to a ballet performance, I didn’t really know what to expect. Although I did expect there to be beautiful ballerinas, the grandeur of the show caught me off guard. The stage was lavishly decorated with perfect lighting, and the performers were extravagantly dressed giving the show a magical Christmas ambiance. I think everyone had to have left with a warm fuzzy feeling that night.

In the beginning of the performance, I was initially pleased with the obvious effort to make this a magical moment for the audience because of the superior quality of everything involved. From time to time you’ll see ballet on TV or maybe online, but for me I never took the time to appreciate ballerinas’ talent until I watched them in person. It’s very cool to see how they can make ballet look so fluid and effortless. As I was watching them dance, all I could do was imagine myself trying to do the same moves and realizing how hard it would be. I definitely have to give them props for being able to keep the pace, balance and strength to perform like that.

My favorite part was the sugar plum fairy’s dance which happened to be portrayed by Anna Rodriquez. She was absolutely flawless in her performance. The perfect touch was added when the light hit her jeweled outfit and tiara making her glimmer from head to toe. It was such an awesome performance. Bravo to the Columbus Ballet for working so hard!

If your little one was swept away by the magic of the ballet you may want to consider registering them for upcoming ballet classes. They’ll have a chance to learn from other experienced ballerinas such as Anna Rodriquez, who happens to be an instructor at the CSU Dance Conservatory, official school of the Columbus Ballet. For more information, visit http://ballet.columbusstate.edu/ or call 706.507.8070.

-Kindra Hunter

Rediscover the Magic of the Nutcracker

Throughout the Holidays there are many activities and performances that set a dreamlike tone. The ballet may be one of them, in particular, the Nutcracker. Every Christmas season ballet companies all over the country perform the Nutcracker, bringing back memories of Christmases past. The Nutcracker Ballet originated from E.T.A Hoffman’s story, “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” in the 19th century. Marius Petipa, a dancer from France, created the ballet choreography for the original performance of the Nutcracker in St. Petersburg, Russia. Interestingly, when this ballet debuted it wasn’t very popular. Today, the Nutcracker is considered one of the world’s most renowned ballets.

On December 10th– 11th the Columbus Ballet Company will perform the Nutcracker at the RiverCenter. Click here for ticket information. This is a fantastic opportunity to boost the warm fuzzy feeling that Christmas gives you. It’s also a perfect night out for the family, or you and a special loved one. Let yourself get swept away in the enchanting story of the Nutcracker. Preview the storyline with this brief summary:

The Stahlbaum’s are hosting a party on Christmas Eve. When Drosselmeyer arrives at the party, he gives Clara and Fitz gifts. Fitz immediately becomes jealous of Clara’s Nutcracker doll and breaks it. After Drosselmeyer repairs the doll, the night eventually comes to an end. Clara sneaks out of bed to cuddle with her Nutcracker doll under the Christmas tree and falls asleep. At midnight, the doll comes to life and has to defend Clara and himself in a battle against the Mouse King.

Luckily, the Nutcracker, his army of toy soldiers, and Clara won the battle against the Mouse King. The Nutcracker turns into a Prince and takes Clara to the Land of Snow, and then on to the Land of Sweets where they meet the Sugar Plum fairy. They tell the fairy of their victory against the Mouse King and she rewards them with a variety of captivating dances. At the end of the story, Clara wakes up underneath the Christmas tree with her Nutcracker doll.

Take some time out to delight in the holiday season this year.  For tickets and pricing information visit the RiverCenter.org. It’s only natural to be mesmerized by the beauty and grace of ballerina after you watch them perform. If you or your children are inspired to learn more about the art of ballet, visit ColumbusState.edu/Ballet for registration information.

-Kindra Hunter

“Prominent Russians: Marius Petipa.” Get Russianalized – Russiapedia. Web. 22 Nov. 2011. <http://russiapedia.rt.com/prominent-russians/opera-and-ballet/marius-petipa/&gt;.

“The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet.” Nutcracker Ballet – Performance Directory and Nutcracker Ballet Information from Ballet Buzz. Web. 22 Nov. 2011. <http://www.nutcrackerballet.net/html/nutcracker_story.html&gt;.

The Waltz: A Forbidden Dance

Did you know at one time in history the Waltz was considered scandalous? Today, our view of this dance is far from scandalous. MTV and other music video stations have surely outdone the waltz. It’s funny to think that there was a time when the Waltz was considered vulgar to people. After doing some research on this dance style, I discovered where the dance originated and why it was technically the first dance to be termed the “forbidden dance.”

The most familiar form of today’s Waltz dates back to 18th century Austria, called the Viennese Waltz, which was influenced from other forms of “twirling” dances from neighboring countries such as Germany and Italy. However, the development of Waltz type dances dates back even further. The Waltz was highly criticized as being sinful and immoral because people were required to dance in a close position. Before the Waltz, people danced around each other, but never touched.  The dance was originally performed by lower class citizens and eventually made its way up the societal ladder. Once it appeared in England at the Prince Regent’s grand ball in 1816, The Times of London had this to say:

We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last … it is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressor on the bodies in their dance, to see that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion. (rounddancing.net)

Herold and Meredith Sears quoted the interpretation of this statement from Jeff Allen’s An Idiot’s guide to Ballroom Dancing, “Interestingly, “voluptuous intertwining of the limbs,” simply referred to the close dance position of the day. The gloved hand of the gentleman was placed gently on the waist of his partner at virtually full arm’s length. The lady’s left-gloved hand quite possibly was delicately placed on her gentleman’s shoulder, and she likely held a fan in that same hand. The left hand of the gentleman remained open and acted as the shelf for his partner’s right-gloved hand. The really scandalous point of that reporter’s observation was that the gentleman’s foot disappeared from time to time under the lady’s gown in the midst of the dance. The bodies of the dancers were never in contact!”

It’s quite interesting to see how society’s views have changed over hundreds of years! If you are interested in an 18th century scandal, Lee Brigg’s ballroom dance class is where you need to be. You’ll learn to Waltz, Rumba, Foxtrot, Swing and Cha Cha. Ballroom 101 is coming up this November, so make sure to call 706.507.8070 or visit ColumbusState.edu/CE for registration information.

-Kindra Hunter

REFERENCES:

January, Bob. “THE WALTZ, History of and Beauty of the Waltz.” The NEW YORK DANCE BAND ORCHESTRA, Ballroom, Jazz, Swing, Traditional. 08 Apr. 2005. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. <http://bobjanuary.com/waltz.htm&gt;.

Sears, Herold, and Meredith Sears. “Some Waltz History.” Harold Sears, Dance and Nature Writing. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. <http://www.rounddancing.net/dance/articles/waltzhist.html&gt;.

“Dances – WALTZ DANCE – History of the Waltz.” Learn to Dance with DanceCrazy, the Definitive   Collection of Dance Videos. Learn Ballroom Dancing, Learn Salsa Dancing, and Any Other Latin Dance. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. <http://www.dancecrazy.com/history-of-the-waltz.htm&gt;.

Exploring Salsa: Where Did the Movement Start?

The word Salsa probably causes you to imagine people dancing and twirling in brightly colored attire to a fast Latin beat. Everyone seems to be familiar of Salsa dancing, but what do we really know about it? From where does this staple of Latin dance originate? Since I was curious, I decided to do a little research on my own.

After browsing through a couple of websites, it appears that there isn’t one single place that Salsa was developed, but that Cuba played the major role in what Salsa is today. It was developed from African, Spanish, and French influences. According to Salsa-Dancing-Addict.com, “The French who fled from Haiti brought the Danzón or the country-dance of England/France to Cuba. This dance began to mix with the African rumbas such as Guaguanco, Colombia and Yambú. Added to this is the Són of the Cuban people, which was a mixture of the Spanish troubadour (sonero) and the African drumbeats. This type of syncretism occurred in other places like the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Puerto Rico, albeit not at the same grand level and manner as in Cuba.”

Why exactly is this dance called Salsa? Isn’t that what you put your chips in? Over the years the meaning of the term has become interchangeable, and can refer to adding flavor to music. The music with this particular “flavor”, “spice”, “kick” or what ever you’d like to call it was coined as Salsa music. Salsaroots.com mentions, “The popular usage of the word “salsa” for danceable Latin music began in 1933 when Cuban song composer Ignacio Piñerio wrote the song Échale Salsita.” Échale Salsita means to “spice it up a little.” It’s funny because the song is about American food.

Salsa-Dancing-Addict.com also describes how this “spiced up” type of dance works, “Salsa is danced on music with a recurring eight-beat pattern, i.e. two bars of four beats. Salsa patterns typically use three steps during each four beats, one beat being skipped. However, this skipped beat is often marked by a tap, a kick, a flick, etc. Typically the music involves complicated percussion rhythms and is fast with around 180 beats per minute.”

If you would like to learn more about the Salsa, Pedro Rodriguez is here to help. Our class, Latin Dancing with Pedro, will teach you everything you need to know about Salsa and other popular Latin dances too! For more information visit us at ColumbusStateUniversity.edu/CE or call 706.507.8070.

–Kindra Hunter

Bartch, Cathy. “History of Salsa Dancing – The Origins of Salsa Dancing.” Salsa Dancing – The Dance of Intimate Passion and Addiction. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. <http://www.salsa-dancing-addict.com/history-of-salsa.html&gt;.

Salazar, Max. “Salsa Origins.” SalsaRoots.com – The Essential Guide to the History of Salsa Music and Dance. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. <http://salsaroots.com/salsaorigins.htm&gt;.