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The best ideas, sometimes, come to mind without trying too hard. The idea of the #ontofullpointe Instagram challenge for dancers who struggle to get on pointe correctly, for example, was born in less than 5 minutes – and we managed to gather about one hundred participants (quite a lot, I think, for a first attempt!).
I came across a great video on Instagram with feet exercises and I thought it could be easier and more effective if we did those exercises together, just like in some IG challenges I’ve seen before... so I decided to contact the creator of the video. That's how I met the amazing Sarah Arnold, a caring, passionate and experienced ballet teacher from the other side of the planet! (Sarah lives in California, and I live in Greece - when she wakes up, it's 5 PM here...). She gladly agreed to co-host the challenge on our IG accounts: @bestpointe.com & @the_accidental_artist, we came up with a plan, defined the rules and the prizes – and at first, it seemed like the easiest thing to do...
Well, it wasn't.
To begin with, we thought we should give our participants a range of all the possible reasons that they might find it hard to get on full pointe. Is it the muscles of our feet? If yes - which ones and how to train them? Is it maybe the wrong pointe shoes - and if yes, how to understand that and how to fix this? There were fourteen video exercises by Sarah, tailor-made to help dancers locate the weaker parts of their feet and body, and fourteen photo tasks, which we created to check every angle of the dancers' feet and their pointe shoes.
We wanted to really help the participants, and that meant that we needed to carefully view each dancer's account, every video and photo, every day... It took more time and effort than we expected but... It was TOTALLY worth it!
What I learned during the challenge was that:
I never thought about what amazing people ALL the dancers are... All of our participants, young or adults - most of them are doing ballet as a hobby, but they are so persistent, so determined to take one step ahead, no matter if their body does not allow it as easy as their other classmates'. I don't think lots of people have this willpower to spend time doing extra exercises (sometimes boring, difficult or unpleasant!) to get better in their hobby? Does this mean that ballet is a hobby for people with stronger personalities?
Just like the Olympics but without politics. Amongst those hundred participations, we had people from US and Australia, North Africa and Mauritius, Russia and every corner of Europe. I had this feeling that I knew all the participants long before we started on the challenge and made this virtual ballet class by sharing the same goals... One day, I noticed that they had started to follow each other, talk, care and support one another! That made me feel that we are doing something really meaningful...
Sometimes when you do a rare and specialized job, you feel like there are only a few people on Earth who may need my expertise - so maybe I should consider doing something more useful?
You know what? About half of the dancers that took part in our challenge were fitted mmm... badly (and another quarter was not that bad but could benefit from a better shoe). And nobody told them so, which made them blame their feet for not being strong enough to rise properly! Knowing that it’s not that easy or cheap to change your pointe shoes straight away, I tried suggesting various ways to alter their current shoes and make them more useful and long-lasting.
I am certain that there is a great need and a huge demand to find more opportunities to connect with all the dancers around the world... Could it be through another challenge? Could it be through a virtual flash-mob or a festival for ballet enthusiasts around the globe? Maybe through a contest? There are so many ideas in my head right now! If you have any, please share them below and let's vote what our next ballet adventure will be?!