Anonymous said: Do you agree that most of dancers nowadays can't express emotions on stage, are too mechanical, and all they have is a technique? Cause someone told me this, i just want to know your opinion on this.

No, I wouldn’t agree with such a blanket statement. There are hundreds of professional companies all around the world & each has a different aesthetic; some are more technical, some are more theatrical. Of course within those, each individual dancer has a different stylistic aesthetic as well, so to me, “most” is too all-encompassing.

Many young dancers don’t have a strong enough hold on technique to perform emotionally. Although there are some young dancers who naturally possess particular charisma & acting ability, I don’t think the majority can be entirely successful dancing an expressive piece until they have a firm control of technique. Once the cognitive space previously used for remembering technical things is freed up, it’s easier to focus on emotional expression.

George Balanchine’s Serenade ©The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Gene Schiavone

George Balanchine’s Serenade ©The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Gene Schiavone

Anonymous said: I mean do they actually stand on the tops of their toes like a ballet dancer, do their feet look like this www(.)chanhongoh(.)com/images/diamond_xray(.)jpg And also some irish dancers (my friends) claim they could go easily en pointe but... i think it's very unfair and insulting for ballet dancers and simply not true?

Oh, yes they do actually stand on their toes. Irish hard shoes are built in a way that facilitates it.

 They don’t typically stay up for as long as ballet dancers do; it’s not really the same. I mean, I’ve seen people go en pointe without shoes but it’s typically very brief.

 

Anonymous said: Do you know if Irish dancers go on pointe in the same way what ballet dancers?

How do you mean “the same way”? There are major differences in technique & their hard shoes are built in a completely different way. I don’t know any serious specifics though, my expertise in Irish step doesn’t go beyond watching them rehearse in my old studio’s rental room & seeing one performance in Galway! Oh actually, one summer intensive I attended taught us a bit of Irish step for a week but it was only soft shoe. 

Christine Winkler as Cinderella in Atlanta Ballet’s Cinderella. Photos by Charlie McCullers.

Christine Winkler as Cinderella in Atlanta Ballet’s Cinderella. Photos by Charlie McCullers.

Anonymous said: Do you have to be able to pointe your toes really far or have really good arcs to be able to go on pointe? Or is it more about your strength?

Pointework is largely about strength, but flexibility in the ankle & toes is also important. A “good” arch really doesn’t have much value beyond aesthetics. Pre-pointe training should include lots of relevés & élèves to strengthen the ankle. I would also recommend core work to help with balance. Consult your instructor (as you always should before beginning pointe…) for a specialized preparatory regimen if your school doesn’t offer pre-pointe classes.