FYI: The Charleston Ballet opens its season 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Civic Center Little Theater. Tickets at the door are $25 for adults and $15 for students. For information, call 304-342-6541 or visit www.thecharlestonballet.com.
If you've ever wondered how ballet dancers prepare to dance on their toes — or if it is uncomfortable when they do, you'll have the opportunity to find out this weekend.
As part of its season opener, the Charleston Ballet will offer a bit of education about what it takes to become a ballet dancer.
(Spoiler alert: A lot of hard work.)
You also can get up close and personal with a pair of ballet slippers, because audience members will be invited to the stage afterward. Did you know those point shoes have hard toe boxes — sort of like steel-toed boots for the dance set? Except they don't last nearly as long — think three weeks or so for a shoe that costs anywhere from $60 to $125 a pair.
This is according to young dancers happy to chat about the equipment so important to their art. The toes of those shoes get a soft stuffing which can be anything from cotton batting to gel inserts to Handi-Wipes dishcloths.
Ballet director Kim Pauley said she thought audience members might be curious about the process, so she built an informal educational element into the opener.
Christopher Fleming, choreographer for the Ballet Fleming in Philadelphia, will serve as emcee.
"He's going to give a brief history of how ballet evolved," Pauley said. Fleming will discuss the physical nature of sports versus dance and then explain a short demonstration of dancers as they go through movements of a typical dance class, starting at barre work and progressing to the floor.
The ballet will then present two very different pieces to show the range of dance by a ballet company.
One is "On the Appalachian Trail," a new ballet featuring music composed by Grant Cooper, the conductor of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The piece will be contrasted by "Janis and Joe Suite," featuring music of Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker and choreographed by Fleming.
Pauley said both pieces are fairly short, which will allow time at the end of the evening to allow audience questions and even invite brave audience members to come to the stage to try their hands (feet) at some ballet movements.
They'll also learn a bit about lighting and costuming.
"We want to give a taste of what we do," Pauley said.
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.