I’m not a huge ballet fan. I took several years of it as part of my theatre degree and found it completely unsatisfying trying to force your hips and ankles into shapes assigned to be beautiful. The grace and athleticism of ballet when done well is not to be denied but I find the art form very boring to watch (but nothing is as boring as modern) and even more boring to learn (disclaimer: Ron is a former ballet dancer). Give me tap or give me death!
En pointe is the familiar technique where a dancer is balancing on the toes of her feet. With toe shoes, crammed full of padding and laced like a corset, the entire body weight of the dancer is perched atop the toes – not the front sole – but the toes. Dancers take years to learn how to execute these moves successfully under the guidance of experienced instructors. Enter YouTube:
"The person who teaches themselves how to dance en pointe has a fool for a dance teacher," says William Hamilton, a New York orthopedic surgeon specializing in ballet injuries. Eleven-year-old Baylee Errante says she had been dreaming about what it would feel like to dance on the tips of her toes ever since last December when she saw "The Nutcracker." She begged her parents to sign her up for lessons, but her dad said she needed to finish basketball season first. She typed onto Yahoo: "How to Make Pointe Shoes." Then, she jerry-built a pair with soles made of thin plywood, and the rest consisting of cut-up socks, glue and cotton balls. Then she started dancing, copying videos she had seen online.
This reminds me a bit of whenever the Diva of the Day comes out with a big song – in high school it was Whitney, Bette and Celine – and all the sorpranos battle it out at the spring recital trying to mimic the techniques of their idols, simultaneously belting themselves into vocal nodules.
Granted, I think that the advent of YouTube and similar video sites has probably helped millions of people watch hours of dance routines and archives they never would be exposed to (with degraded detail of course).