Thursday, December 30, 2010

And the puzzle pieces fall together...

Today was my second day of adult ballet classes. I arrived fifteen minutes early to stretch, and then I waited... and waited... I was starting to get so nervous that I got the wrong day, but my teacher arrived so it was a huge sigh of relief. Anyway, today went marvelous. After two weeks I finally could dance again. I got lots of corrections, which makes me very happy. Apparently, I lean back too much during pirouettes and chaines. That would explain A LOT. T.T

I should really post of a picture of my ballet classroom here so you guys aren't just listening to me babble.

Many of the girls in my class want to see the movie, The Black Swan. I admitted I didn't like it but that the ballet portions were the best in the film, which is what they seemed the most interested in anyway. My teacher actually just wants to see it because a close friend of hers was the one who trained Natalie Portman for her role. Everyone seemed the most put off by the fact it was a horror movie. I tried telling them it wasn't scary, just a little gross, but that didn't seem to help. 

Anyway, the puzzle pieces fall together because today I spoke to another woman in my class. She manages a company that helps mentally ill patients. I have been looking for someone to intern/volunteer for since...well... a really, really long time. She seemed interested in letting me on and promised to get my phone number next class (we were on our way out the door already). It seems ballet is not only going to help me with my dance obsession, but also my possible career outside! I'm so happy I could just die! Ha haha :D

Goals: better posture, more balance and control during pirouettes and chaines

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Red Shoes (1948) - Analysis and Ballet *image heavy*

Seeing The Black Swan reminded me of one of my favorite movies of all time, The Red Shoes. Wow, this movie is amazing! I just love everything about it. Okay, I may deduct some points since I couldn't figure out what accent Boris was supposed to have (French, Russian, neither?), but it still a great movie. It has a great story with great parallelism, the actors are great, the people in charge of the movie clearly did their research about the theatre, and the actors can actually dance as well! The themes explored are unique, even to this day. So let's just dive on in and take a look at this wonderful movie!

The story is based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale by the same name. The original story can be read here. But this particular telling is about a young ballerina named Victoria, or Vicky for short. She has a career, but longs for a big career. The drive for such a career comes from her passion. A wonderful quote in the movie is when her and Boris meet for the first time at a party. Boris asks her why she wants to dance, and she asks back, "Why do you want to live?" He responds, surprised, "I don't know exactly why, but I must." She finishes by stating, "That's my answer, too." Her passion for her art clearly drives her to be better and better. Not once is thought that she wants this for the money--she is already from a wealthy family. She doesn't seem to be seeking fame because we are never given hints if that may be the case. She just strives to improve her art, which she loves with all her heart.

The second main character is a man named Julian Craster. He is a young composer, and, like Vicky, lives for his art. He works as a composer and as the orchestra pit conductor. He is Boris's pawn, and Julian sacrifices some of his hard work to Boris in order to have the opportunity to create even more. Julian falls in love with Vicky and wants to be with her, but both their careers get in between the two lovers.

Lastly is Boris Lermontov. This is the antagonist of the story. Boris is a complex character. You're never quite sure what his motive is, but you know that he lives for the art. He wants the best out of everyone so they can achieve something wonderful together, yet he is selfish. He doesn't help Julian when his work is stolen. When Julian confronts him about it, Boris offers him a job at his prestigious theatre instead. Julian seizes the opportunity, but remains in Boris's clutches. Boris also loves Vicky, but whether this love is for her talent or for the beautiful woman herself is unknown. I suspect it is something of a mixture of the two. Either way, he tries to manipulate Vicky and control almost every aspect of her life. Still, you can't fully hate him since Vicky does want a successful dancing career, which Boris is more than happy to give her.

I was going to write a full summary of the entire story, but after a huge computer crash, I lost everything I already written. I will probably post a complete summary as a separate blog post. So here are some pictures as well as details on the ballet portion and other bits of the movie.

Rehearsing Giselle

The sets are amazingly beautiful.

There is also a strong use of lights and colors to take advantage of the technology they had. This adds much depth to the film. Besides, who would want to see dark grey shoes when the story was supposed to be about red ones?

Color is also used as symbolism, and not necessarily in the traditional sense (white is innocent, black is evil, etc.) but to show a separation.
Vicky is lit by the blue stage lights and Julian is lit from the pit lights below.
Though Julian and Vicky are lovers, their lives, when it comes to their arts, are separate. They could never be truly together if they both wish to achieve greatness. This can be seen in the color scheme as they try to work together. This particular scene is them arguing over the speed of the music and if its suitable for her dancing.
The actress who plays Vicky did a wonderful job acting. Not only is she great at acting, but she can also dance her own parts. Before this movie, she actually was a professional ballerina. After much convincing, she took the movie part. Her being able to dance her own parts really adds to the movie since, as a viewer, I don't feel as if I'm being lied to or being talked down to by the movie's director. I can tell when you cleverly cut away from the actress during dancing portions. I'm not an idiot. So thank you Red Shoes for finding the perfect woman to play Vicky.

The movie is also wise in creating an enchanting ballet called, you guessed it, The Red Shoes. The director knew that the viewers want to see the fruits of the characters' labor, and they oblige by creating a wonderful ballet. The cinematography during the ballet is perfect as to not distract from the dancing, but to add depth to the performance. Now we move into the ballet itself. There is an HD version on Youtube. You can view it here.
The ballet is a metaphor for Vicky's passion for dancing. In the fairy tale, the shoes won't allow the girl to stop dancing. The girl dances and dances until she dies. Vicky's situation is similar, only her passion keeps her dancing forever. She wants to dance so much, that she'd even consider giving up a close lover, like Julian, in order to achieve it. The desire is so strong that no matter what chapter she is in her life, she will always want to keep dancing, all the way to death.

The ballet starts with the cobbler making the shoes. I swear, if there's a remake (heaven forbid, but if), I can see Johnny Depp playing as the cobbler. I mean, just look at his makeup:
Vicky emerges from her home, and goes to the cobbler:
In the window she sees the red shoes. In their place, she sees an image of her dancing in the shoes. She dances pas de deux with a young boy. The boy seems to not want her to have the shoes. He tries to distract her and pull her away, but the call of the shoes is too strong. The choreography for this scene is amazing. It really conveys the message of how much she longs for these shoes, or in the case of the metaphor, her longing for a dancing career.
The cobbler gives her the shoes that he made especially for her, even though other girls in the town are desperate to have them. She dances around in them and later that night, attends the festival in town. Here is a particularly colorful bit. All seems well and she still wants to keep dancing through the night. I believe this is a metaphor for the beginning of her career as a professional ballerina. Everyone wants the prima ballerina spot, but she was the one who snagged it. All seems great and she feels content as her passion for art is not yet jeopardized.
She dances with many boys at the festival, but shows interest in no one in particular.
It's hard to see in this picture, but with the red shoes, she dances over a transparency of a boy, showing that she is willing to put aside romance so she can keep dancing.
The festival comes to an end. The color literally falls from the panels. The fun is over and she is ready to go home, but the shoes aren't ready to stop yet. Her passion for dance won't let her settle down and relax. She must keep going.
The shadow of the cobbler reaches for her. She looks upon him in terror. At this point, the cobbler turns into Boris and Julian respectively. I think this is supposed to symbolize how both people play almost antagonistic roles in her career. Vicky runs from the cobbler/Boris/Julian character and gets transported to a more serene scene where she dances alone. Her passion has become a sanctuary.
The serenity doesn't last too long. She starts falling.
And lands right into a pas de deux with a man made of newspaper.
This is her dance with the critics and response she will get from her performance.
The man made of newspaper returns to his papery form. The cobbler appears again. She tries to take off the shoes again, but to no avail.
The dancer spins right into her awareness of her own mortality. The background looks like a decaying city and even more like a graveyard. Strange creatures surround the lampposts. The dancer is frightened of most of them. One reaches out for her and she goes in to take her hand, but is scared away again by the creature's companion. She tries again to seek companionship. She has been dancing for so long and she's lonely now. The next creatures she approaches aren't as frightening. She reaches for them, but they quickly sidestep her, revealing the cobbler behind them. He grabs her hand instead. I think that since all the people are in couples by the light posts, they may represent Vicky's fear of commitment.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love the cobbler? He's awesome. Anywho... the dancer runs away from him and through a wall. There she finds a man that reminds me of Two-Face.
He looks like a corpse, but a half-dead one. She's frightened of him, but dances with him anyway. She has one foot in the grave now as she begins passing more and more signs of death, such as a lit grave:
The next thing she knows is that she's surrounded by grotesque monsters. Death is all around her and she becomes more and more aware of the looming consequence.
As the monsters fade away, she feels alone again. Only her red shoes, or her passion for dance, has kept her going, but she longs for an intimate contact as seen by her dancing on a lonely island.
She solves this by dancing into a ballroom scene. Here she meets the boy of her dreams, or in this case, Julian. He walks right up onto the stage with her.
But she can't be with him. She pushes away her dance partner. Her shoes are calling to her and want to keep dancing. Or in her case, her longing to dance is calling her to keep performing. The audience turns to sea, possibly reflecting a later scene in the movie where Vicky and Julian have moonlit carriage ride by the sea.
She dances offstage. The next scene is a funeral outside of the church of her old hometown. The dancer appears, her clothes now tattered and dirty.
She walks up to the church, still dancing, and tries to remove the shoes from her feet. The priest appears. She shrinks away, but quickly realizes that it's nothing to fear. I believe this is where she realizes that only death can end her passion to keep dancing.
 She begs him for help.
The procession enters the church. The priest, sadly, backs away from the dancer as well. The dancer lies exhausted on the steps, but not for long. The cobbler appears, holding a knife.
She tries to cut the shoes from her feet, or perhaps her entire foot off as the fairy tale goes? But the branch turns into a harmless branch. She tosses it aside and it turns back into a knife again. The shoes force her to keep dancing again, this time with the cobbler. She becomes more exhausted, collapsing on the ground at times.
The priest comes out to see what the commotion is about. He sees the dancer struggling with the cobbler. She runs to him when she breaks free. She begs the priest for his help again and collapses to the ground. She desperately gestures to the shoes.
At last, the priest removes them easily. The cobbler appears surprised that the priest was able to remove the shoes at all. The girl faints, but it is not quite known if she just passes out or passes away. At last, the shoes are off. The priest carries away the girl's body as the cobbler approaches the discarded shoes and begins to dance with them. This final scene closely resembles the final scene of the movie itself.

The entire ballet and story of the red shoes is a metaphor for a performer's passion for her art and how this passion struggles with other desires such as intimacy. The dancer must pick, but either way, her passion will drive her to keep performing and may even cause her to toss other people away from her, just as the red shoes did.

The music for the ballet is splendid and it even won an Oscar. The ballet can also be taken at face value or delved into through its symbolism. Heck, the entire movie is a wonderful piece to watch. If you can't find a copy at the store or at your library, here is a place on Youtube where you can watch it: The Red Shoes. Personally, I would recommend trying to find an actual copy since the quality of the movie can make a big difference to how you perceive certain things.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

May your night be filled with the dances of sugar plums!
Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Black Swan: Part 3 -- Novel by Mercedes Lackey

In 1999, an author named Mercedes Lackey wrote The Black Swan, a novel based off the story of Swan Lake. The story is essentially the same, but with several major differences to offer flavor. For one, the story is mainly told through Prince Siegfried and Odile's perspectives.

The story begins with Odile taking care of the flock by their castle's lake. Odile believes and trusts her father for who else does she have to believe? She's locked away in the castle with nothing but her spell books. The only thing she longs for is for her father's affection, but his stony persona rarely delivers the attention she longs for unless she performs practical magic, such as cleaning the house or banishing pests.

Things start to change once Odile's father, Baron Eric von Rothbart, challenges Odette to find love. If she can find the love of a man, even with him knowing her as both a swan and a maiden, she and the rest of the flock will be free from the spell. Odile grows closer to the maidens as she speaks to them more and more. She dawns upon the realization that perhaps her father isn't all he seems.

Far away from the baron's home is the castle where Prince Siegfried resides. He is a womanizer and only seeks out the pleasures palace life can bring him. He remains this way until a tragic event wakes him up and forces him to change his ways. Luckily this change happens just before his birthday, which requires him to find a bride from a local group of princesses. What he doesn't know is that his own mother is making plans to ruin her son so she can remain queen.


Lackey diffidently did her research on the ballet. The names of the main characters have stayed the same. The swans change to girls at the touch of moonlight; all the essentials are there. She even knew that von Rothbart turns into an owl. (Not bad, Mercedes! Thumbs up from me!)

What has changed are some of the characters' personalities and how they are manipulated into the storyline. For example, Odile is used by her father, not his partner. Prince Siegfried is a romantic but is perhaps too romantic to too many girls. Odette is pretty much the same, but it is made clear that she is an educated woman of high rank, even outside the group of swans.

Lackey also adds some of her own story elements, such as the mother wanting to remain queen and the plans of a minstrel named Uwe (pronounced oo-vey. Because if you're like me, you probably pronounced it as "ew" originally.). Lackey also hints as to why Von Rothbert keeps all these swans where the ballet left it to the imagination. These all flesh out the story so it would be more fitting for a novel. Still, it's the tale of Swan Lake and told quite nicely too.

I really did enjoy Lackey's writing style. I read another novel she wrote that featured ballet and it wasn't as good, but this one knows its characters and story. It's a lovely retelling of the story Swan Lake, and honestly, one of the few out there. And even if you are lucky to find another one, I doubt they'll be quite as good as this one.

The novel is 402 pages long in paperback format and also has a hardback release. A copy can be found at Amazon and probably can still be found at physical bookstores since this is written by a popular fantasy author. The paperback novel is only $7.99.

Rating: 9/10
Definitely worth buying or at least a rent from the library!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Black Swan: Part 2

 In December 2010, the movie Black Swan was released to theatres. The story is based off the ballet, Swan Lake, and is about a young ballerina named Nina Sayers who gets the part of the Swan Queen. Only problem is that Nina is mentally unstable and the press for perfection pushes her over the edge.

This movie has been getting A LOT of hype. There have been many Oscar buzzes flying about for this movie, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a fresh review, and has a very high rating currently for this movie, quite uncommon for a horror movie. The last horror that got this much hype was Paranormal Activity.

Unfortunately, like Paranormal Activity, this movie is just not scary. At all. If anything, it's just another gory, sexy comedy adventure. I was led astray when critics were calling it the next Red Shoes and a psychological horror because I got neither.

Granted, it wasn't a bad movie. I didn't fall asleep during it like Paranormal Activity. This movie is also quite original. I mean, how many ballet horror movies can you name? Yeah, I couldn't think of any either.

I don't know. I just didn't get the hype. Natalie Portman wasn't the best actress in my opinion either. I liked Mila Kunis who played Nina's (Natalie Portman) understudy, but I didn't get a WOW performance from Natalie. Then again, I never agree with what the Oscar picks so maybe it's perfect.
I did like how Tchaikovsky music was dispersed throughout the movie. Even the music in the restaurant was an elevator-ized version of one of the pieces. I was really hoping that the club scene would have Swan Lake techno music, but I was disappointed. I don't know, maybe it was Swan Lake played backward or something.

It's just not a scary movie. It's a nice movie. It's a funny movie. But it's not scary. They sort of forced symbolism on us with all the white/black/mirror image/hair-up/hair-down/yadda yadda that even someone who doesn't know crap about movies like me noticed. But it was a nice movie. I only paid five dollars for it so I can't complain.

I play Silent Hill and am a huge fan of that series. That basically translates to "I love symbolism!" and "I love psychological horror!" But this movie just made me laugh my head off.'s funny. It really is. I would give you examples but I don't want to ruin it for you. My guess is people are going to see this and either see a very funny comedy or a terrifying horror movie. 

Since this is a ballet blog, I probably should comment on the dance portion. Though it was painfully obvious at times that Natalie wasn't doing her own dancing. At least they didn't force her to dance. They threw in a double and it looked fine. The ballet-filled sections were the best portion of film because it made the film take you into a world you may never experience for yourself. I really enjoyed these bits. In fact, I'd say I enjoyed these bits the most. Thankfully a good portion of the movie takes place in the theatre or during practice.

They also knew quite a bit about Swan Lake. Natalie would do the mimes that Odile performs and they would refer to certain portions of the ballet correctly. Though I do have to ask (and this is a spoiler. Highlight to expose) when she saw what's-his-name doing the "Black Swan" or Lily... why did he turn into the owl? Wouldn't that be incest? Was that intentional? IDK my BFF Jill.

Horror has a fine line between terrifying and hysterically funny. This movie was hysterically funny for me. Maybe others will be scared. 

Black Swan Drinking/Brain Freeze Game!
Take a swig when...
-Nina takes off her earrings
-Someone refers to her as a "sweet girl"
-Whenever Nina get's it on! And I mean whenever ;D
-Every time Lily says Nina will be/is wonderful
-Whenever Nina looks wide-eyed and confused. (Extra swig if her mouth is open!)

And that's seriously enough to get you wasted (or if you're underage, a very nice brain freeze from that slushie!)! Have fun! Hopefully you'll enjoy the movie more than me!

Black Swan- 6.5/10

Black Swan: Part 1

With the new movie coming out featuring a ballet theme, I thought it would be appropriate to have a few Black Swan themed posts.
For those who don't know, the Black Swan is a character from the ballet, Swan Lake, written by Tchaikovsky. It is one of the most popular ballets, and pretty much every little girl dreams of playing a part in this ballet. The Black Swan is the evil sorcerer's daughter, Odile (o-DEEL). The sorcerer disguises Odile as Odette so Prince Siegfried will vow his love to Odile, thinking it's really his true love, Odette. By dedicating his love to the wrong woman, Odette will be condemned to live as a swan forever. Odile is often portrayed in ballet as a seducer, evil, coy, yet extremely talented dancer. She wears black in place of Odette's white, and both characters are usually played by the same ballerina.

See some of these videos for clips of Odile's role:
Black Swan Competition (only 14 years old! See why being 20 is a little old? lol)
Pas de deux
von Rothbart and Odile's Entrance
Another entrance clip (7:30 is when they enter)
Another variation
I absolutely love the music for the very first video. I'm actually not quite sure what the title is called for that particular bit (I only know the popular ones like the coda. See above embedded video for that music piece).

Odile is a name of German origins that means "wealthy child." Odette is a French name that also means "wealthy child." Both names are a form of the name, Odilia. Looks like they couldn't have picked a better name for these two!

I've already been to see the Black Swan movie. All that's left is to write a review on it. Also paired with the Black Swan theme is going to be a review on the book, The Black Swan, by Mercedes Lackey. Once those are all finished, I have a couple more ballet-themed exercise videos to review.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review-- Element: Ballet Conditioning

Phew! I've been posting so much lately since I started this blog after I actually started making records of my progress. Well, I decided I should probably stop being so self-absorbed in my blogs and write a couple reviews!

So my first review is on a exercise DVD called Element: Ballet Conditioning. Element is a group that puts out various exercise DVDs for pilates and yoga. One of their more popular DVDs is the one that incorporates ballet exercises into the routine.

Menu screen

 The setting is what almost looks like a country club or an outdoor wedding plaza. It's next to a pool with pillars, landscaped with flowers, and located conveniently next to the ocean. I actually really like the location they picked for the exercise. It beats a studio lit by florescent lighting. Everything has a contemporary feel that makes it relaxing and fresh.

The workout itself is a toughie. Just because it says ballet on it doesn't mean this is gonna be all fun and tutus. The length of the workout is fifty minutes. I feel that it is just right considering most ballet classes I know of go for at least an hour. What I also like about the exercises is that it also warms you up. You don't have to worry about doing it yourself before popping it into the DVD player.

Warming up for some ballet exercises!
My legs kill during the pliés, and that burn feels oh so good! I want to say over half the DVD features barre work, or in this case, chair work. The chair is nice and does the job, but I really need to place something heavy on the seat part so it doesn't tip on me. There is a lot of exercise and heat building in the legs and butt during exercises with the chair. Trust me. It kills.

Another barre exercise working on attitude. Feel the burn!

The camera changes often so you're not bored of looking at the same old thing all the time. It also zooms in and shows a majority of her body so you can compare your movements to hers.  The instructor gives great cues about which move she's going to move to next. She doesn't stress the knees going over the feet as much during first position pliés, which I find a lot of beginners like me doing, but she does do so during second position pliés. I also wish she would remind us to breathe more since I often find myself holding my breath instead of relaxing and letting go, but overall, she does an excellent job and has a great narration voice.

Cardio workout using jumps and kicks
Floor work has some kicks and jumps. This acts as the cardio portion of the exercise. I wish they added a bit more for this part, but I can sort of see why they stopped. As a beginner, I have a lot of trouble balancing during the kicks. As for jumps, I can't seem to get well enough off the ground for the changements. The creators of this DVD correctly assumed that more than just seasoned dancers would purchase it. Thus, simple steps, leaps, and jumps, though the cardio could be extended slighty longer.

The ab workout is challenging, but it'll be worth it!
Finally it's the tough ab workout. UGH. This is hard stuff! Which basically means that it's really good for me and everyone else interested in dance. I've never done pilates before, but I'm fairly sure she uses a lot of pilates moves for the ab portion. There are no curl-ups with bent knees and hands behind the head for this DVD! And quite honestly, I really like it for that. Not only do these ab workouts benefit your core, but they will also help you stretch your legs for kicks and splits. Despite all my ab classes at school, I still cannot make it through without stopping a couple times. Hopefully that will improve!

Last but not least is the warm-down. This is mostly stretching the legs and abs after a long workout. It must do the job because I'm never too sore after working out with this DVD.
Workout: 9/10
Instructor: 9/10
Setting: 9/10
Camera: 10/10
Level: Advanced-Expert
Is it actually ballet? Yes
Overall: 9/10

This is an excellent workout. It does exactly what it says it will do and does so very nicely. The camera made it easy for me to mimic her moves. The instructor does a nice job and can clearly accomplish the moves she asks of us. She's happy but not sickeningly so. By the end of the day, I feel properly worked out, and for only $10 at, it's also a great deal for fifty minutes of exercise.

Football and Ballet ARE Related and Other Exercises

I was speaking with a friend last week during classes, and I brought up how I wanted to go en pointe. And she said (real polite, mind you, as to not crush/shatter my dreams), that she heard it could do permanent damage to my ankles and toes. When she said that, I remembered my ballet teacher saying a long time ago that if I wanted to go en pointe, I would have to see the doctor to see if I was ready for it. Now that's a big turn off. The permanent damage, not the doctor trip.

BUT...and this is a big BUT... I immediately thought about football players and hockey players. Lots of them have had spine damage, head damage, maybe lost a couple teeth here and there--yet they continue to play. Why is that? Because they don't care. They love what they do so much that it doesn't matter anymore, and that's how I feel. I just want to dance. I'm not going to have this body for much longer anyway, and my body will probably benefit from the muscular endurance, flexibility, cardio more so that it will counter-balance any toe damage.

Anyway, enough about me. Here are some fabulous videos I found while scrounging around on Youtube:

Stretches for Home
This first video is an exercise video. This stretch is used to improve many things from kicks to splits.

Learn How to Pirouette
This is another excellent video for an introduction to pirouettes. Damn these things are hard! I can get two if I'm lucky, but hey, I'm just starting so I'll take it easy on myself.

Phew... I'm tired. Went to see Rocky Horror late last night, but I still want to get at least 50 minutes of exercise in so I don't drop any muscle for next dance class in a couple weeks.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mr. Ollivander's -- The Ballet Shoe Version

BUYING BALLET SHOES IS A NIGHTMARE. Even though I'm in the Chicagoland area, I cannot find any place to fit me for shoes. When I was little, there was a store I went to to get my shoes fitted, but when I went there, it was gone--some knickknack store was in its place. The only brand I know is Capezio's since my dance team shoes were from that brand. So I checked their site, and.....their site's down. More specifically, their shopping cart is down and it's been down for quite some time.

I need new shoes because, guess what, I signed up for adult classes at my local park district! There are only three classes, but it is by far the cheapest price for classes (about $15/class) and it's the only thing my college-bound ass can afford. This means I'll have to get a job to pay for these. Wish me luck finding one.

Anyway, back to the shoe problem. I order some Capezio canvas shoes off Amazon for about $15. That didn't sound too bad. I ordered them as the description said, by my street shoe size. So I order 7M and wait as patiently as possible for my shoes to arrive. At last, they come. I try them on and...they're tight. Way, way too tight. I frowned a little but decided there must be a way to break them in. After all, this is my size...right?

My canvas shoes. Look at that lipgloss stain on the elastic!
  I sew on the elastic straps to see if that helps (it doesn't). In the process, I get lipgloss on it and therefore can't return the product. I tried stretching the shoes with ice. No avail. I cannot even spread my toes in these puppies.
That little bump in the middle is my toe bending. Waaaay too tight.
So, finally defeated, I decided to buy another shoe a whole size up after reading a dozen reviews and rediscovering this video: Ballet Shoes: How to Find the Perfect Ballet Shoe for Your Feet .

The next shoes I bought were twenty-dollar, leather shoes. I bought a size 8 this time in hopes that my toes wouldn't curl up at the tip. I put them on and...they're a bit too big. UGH.
Leather shoes
They bunched around the side and there was a little space by my heel. It didn't fit me like a glove like the video said it should be. This would be so much easier if I had a dance store or some place to go! I tried tightening the drawstrings, and though it caused the leather to bunch a bit at the sides, they fit me much better. Now they feel pretty snug.

Already I like the leather much better than the canvas. Since my first class was coming up, I didn't have time to trade in for a half-size lower to see if they were better, so I must use these. I figure I can ask my teacher if they are too loose for dancing.
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