Tag Archives: Ballet

Creative Juice #42

Creative Juice #42

Twelve recent articles to challenge your preconceptions and open you up to new possibilities.

Guest Post: Pas de Degas

Guest Post: Pas de Degas

Thank you to Donna from MyOBT for this fabulous guest post. I love all things ballet!


degas 1 Ken Browar & Deborah Ory for Harper’s Bazaar

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Creative Juice #30

Creative Juice #30

A baker’s dozen of artful articles (better for you than donuts!):

Creative Juice #25

Creative Juice #25

Fourteen more articles to start your Friday creative streak:

  • Melanie McNeil shares the quilts she made in 2016.
  • I think you may be obsessive compulsive if you do this, but I love the results. I may have to try this idea…
  • Nostalgia time. My husband had one of these in his classroom to help his students improve their listening skills.
  • Are you jealous when you see all the creative things other people are doing?
  • Combining loves of ballet and reading.
  • The illustrations of Hanna McCaffery.
  • I think a dragon is the perfect subject for a quilt.
  • A grandfather posts a drawing a day for his grandchildren on his Instagram account.
  • Um, some of these one-of-a-kind Etsy finds are examples of creativity gone awry.
  • Scrap paper sculpture.
  • Joel Kioko, a young ballet dancer from Kenya.
  • The embroidery of Humayrah Bint Altaf
  • Norm 2.0 is known for his Thursday Doors photography posts, but here he combines doors and street art.
  • How do you do free-motion quilting at a retreat? Like this.

Guest Post: New Yawk, New Yawk

Guest Post: New Yawk, New Yawk

A treat for those of us who love ballet. Thank you to Donna for this guest post, which originally appeared on her blog, My OBT.


dance 0 Kevin Richardson

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Creative Juice #20

Creative Juice #20

Ten articles that will tickle your artistic brain:

Ballet Feet

Ballet Feet

I used to think that ballerinas’ feet must be dainty and beautiful. How else could they move so gracefully?

But the reality is that ballet dancers suffer for their art. Literally. Between the many hours of daily practice, rehearsals, and performances, up to 90% of dancers suffer injuries. For females, dancing en pointe (on the tips of their toes) can cause severe damage; men often get hurt when landing after a leap.

To stay in shape, professional dancers generally take a class five days a week. The last 15-20 minutes typically involve jumps. Here are dancers from the Pacific Northwest Ballet in class:

Millicent Powers, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Silicon Valley Ballet, says, “Dancers’ bones and bodies frequently exhibit signs of premature aging: bunions, bone deformations and tendons that are missing, damaged or otherwise impaired.”

Ballet feet

Dancer Dane Youssef explains, “In nearly any other sport, one is allowed to wear shoes that are stuffed to the brim with nice comfy padding. In ballet, traditionally—the feet have to totally absorb the brunt of the shock…I’ve heard of lot of ballerinas who have to switch majors when they break their feet.”

Some common afflictions of dancers:

  • Achilles Tendonitis—inflamation of the long tendon on the back of the leg
  • Ankle Sprain
  • Blisters—caused by rubbing of the shoes
  • Bruised and broken nails
  • Bunions—a deformity of the bone that causes the big toe to lean in towards the other toes
  • Dancer’s Fracture—a break of the long bone on the outside of the foot; typically occurs after the dancer performs a jump
  • bones_footDancer’s Heel—Posterior Impingement Syndrome—a bump caused by wear-and-tear which forms on the back of the ballet dancer’s ankle, preventing her from dancing en pointe
  • Hammertoe—misalignment of toe (usually the second one) so that it bends toward the big toe and looks like a hammerhead; often genetic, it may develop in dancers as a result of tearing of the ligaments on the bottom of the toes
  • Heel Spur—an abnormal growth on the bottom of the heel bone
  • Ingrown Toenail—painful condition in which the skin grows over the toenail; untreated, can lead to an infection
  • Metatarsalgia—pain on the ball of the foot, which bear the brunt of “pushing off”; named for the five metatarsal bones
  • Neuroma—a pinched nerve causes burning pain in the forefoot and numbness in the toes
  • Plantar Fasciitis–irritation and inflammation of the fascial covering of the sole of the foot
  • Sesamoiditis (Turf Toe Injuries)—inflammation of the two sesamoid bones in the forefoot causes pain underneath the big toe, like the sensation of walking on rocks
  • Shin Splints—pain and swelling in the front or inside of the shin, indicating that the lining of the bone has torn away; can also indicate chronic exertional compartment syndrome, where pressure builds inside the muscles
  • Stress fracture

While the ballet movements themselves tend to have the most noticeable detrimental effects on a dancer’s feet, ill-fitting shoes can also be the cause of foot pain. Calluses, fractures and ingrown toenails can form very quickly if dancers wear unsuitable shoes.

800px-PointeShoesToe shoes, worn by ballerinas dancing en pointe, have a hard base made up of layers of paper, leather, or burlap, and must be padded to adequately support and cushion the dancer’s foot. Professional dancers can wear out two to six pairs of toe shoes per week, at $70 or more per pair. The New York City Ballet spends $600,000 per year on toe shoes.

Dancers with the best chance of avoiding injury while performing en pointe tend to have toes all about the same length and strong ankles. “Pointe can jam the joints of the toes and feet,” says Dr. Brett Fried of South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers. “I would limit pointe, especially in pediatric patients.”

For more about the effects of dancing en pointe, see the following articles:

The next time you see a ballerina (seemingly) effortlessly pirouetting across the stage, appreciate that those moments of sheer beauty have a cost—literally, blood, sweat, tears, and pain.

S is for Stravinsky

S is for Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky was born June 5, 1882, near St. Petersburg, Russia. A prolific composer, he is probably best remembered for two of his ballets, Firebird and Rite of Spring.

Though he took music lessons as a boy, he studied law and philosophy at St. Petersburg University, while experimenting with musical composition on his own. In 1902 he had an opportunity to show some of his pieces to the father of one of his classmates. Igor_Stravinsky_EssaysThe father (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, a great Russian composer in his own right) was so impressed that he offered to mentor Stravinsky, and dissuaded him from enrolling in the music conservatory.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s contacts included Sergei Diaghilev, founder of Ballet Russe, who commissioned Stravinsky to write music for a ballet about the mythical Firebird, a recurring character in Slavic folklore. When Firebird premiered in Paris in 1910, its success gave Stravinsky the reputation of being one of the most promising new composers.

When I taught elementary general music, the Infernal Dance from Firebird was my favorite example of the use of sforzando (Italian shorthand for “suddenly, with force,” or a distinct accent).

Relocating to France, Stravinsky spent the next two years working on a musical image of a pagan ritual sacrifice. Paired with choreography by Nijinsky, the premiere of Rite of Spring on May 29, 1913, sparked a legendary riot. The provocative dance and the harsh rhythms and dissonance of the music offended the sensibilities of the audience, accustomed to a more genteel Russian ballet.

I’m not sure how the choreography in this clip compares to the original, but do you see how it could have enflamed the observers?

The dancers’ movements remind me of bird mating rituals, or meercats.

When Walt Disney set beloved works of the musical canon to animation in Fantasia in 1940, here is how he and his artists interpreted Rite of Spring:

Excerpt from Fantasia:

World War I and the Russian Revolution made return to Russia out of the question for Stravinsky. However, references to Russian folk texts continued to show up in his music.

In 1940, Stravinsky moved to Hollywood, California. He lived and and worked in the United States until his death on April 6, 1971, in New York City.

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