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May 13, 2014

Southeast Regional Ballet Association’s Festival

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Russian Pointe
 

Dancers from Inwood Dance Company from West Virgina

Dancers from Carolina Dance Center in North Carolina

 

On May 1-3, Russian Pointe® had the privilege of attending the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association’s annual dance festival, held at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and the Montgomery Performance Arts Center in Montgomery, AL.

More than 800 dancers from Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and other southern states gathered together for the event, which was sponsored by Alabama Dance Theatre. The festival featured three days of master classes and performances by several of the dance companies who are members of the organization.

As a sponsor of the festival, Russian Pointe® had a table set up during the event displaying our various models of pointe shoes as well as our tights, ballet-themed iPhone covers and pointe shoe fitting guides as scores of dancers, parents and teachers stopped by to ask questions or learn more about our brand.

Sofia Konstance Uralsky, sales representative for the Eastern region for Russian Pointe®, said it was great to meet with students, parents and teachers who loved our shoes, as well as those who were not familiar with our brand and be able to explain what makes Russian Pointe® special.

At Russian Pointe®, we are passionate about inspiring future generations to value the arts, so we were proud to support an organization dedicated to expanding dancers’ horizons and encouraging young people to pursue a career in dance. We look forward to participating again next year!



May 9, 2014

Trunk Show at Relevé Dance-Wear Co. in CA

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Russian Pointe

Releve Trunk Show

Emma in her Encores.

Releve Trunk Show

Sarah in her Sapfirs.

Releve Trunk Show

Moriah in her Bravas.

Releve Trunk Show

Elaina trying on the Muse.

Releve Trunk Show

Elaina showing the comparison between her old shoes, Brava and her new shoe, the Muse.

Relevé Dance-Wear Co. in Elk Grove, CA, hosted a Russian Pointe® a Trunk Show on April 26, and owner Tamara Shewmaker said the event was even more successful than she had hoped.

“It was fabulous,” Shewmaker said. “Even though we’ve been retailers of Russian Pointe® for four years, it really revitalized the brand.”

To make the event more special, Relevé held bun-making demonstrations at the front of the store and gave away free pairs of Russian Pointe® tights to every customer who purchased a pair of shoes that day.

Customers were thrilled to receive a pair of the newly released tights, which are luxuriously soft and come in the same distinctive, light pink hue of the Russian Pointe® shoes, giving you a long, seamless look down the leg.

Throughout the day, Russian Pointe® sales representative Megan Bentz held pointe shoe fittings while Karina, one of the store’s fitters, watched intently and asked questions.

“She really got the Russian Pointe® (method),” Shewmaker said. “We wanted her to really spend time chatting. It was a great day of training for her.”

Bentz also gave pointe shoe fitting tips and advice to Shewmaker’s husband, Jack, who is also one of the expert pointe shoe fitters at the store. Although Jack was familiar with the brand because he had previously attended a Russian Pointe® Pointe Shoe Fitting Seminar in Chicago, he was interested in sharpening his pointe shoe fitting skills by shadowing Bentz as she worked.

Prior to the Trunk Show, Relevé carried every Russian Pointe® model except for the Muse, but after watching Bentz fit several girls in that style, they decided to add the Muse to their line-up.

The Trunk Show brought in several new customers who heard about the event through Russian Pointe®’s marketing, as well as many regular customers who already wear Russian Pointe® shoes or were considering returning to the brand.

Interest in Russian Pointe® was so high, in fact, that several dancers who train at the School of the Sacramento Ballet and the Deane Dance Center in Sacramento, who couldn’t attend the Trunk Show on Saturday because of rehearsal, asked if they could come in on Sunday for additional fitting appointments.

Shewmaker said the Trunk Show was another example of the superior customer service that Russian Pointe® offers. “I love the company because from day one the company is extremely user friendly as far as retailers are concerned. Everyone really wants us to be successful,” she said. “There’s something to be said for good, old fashioned customer service and Russian Pointe®, far and beyond any other pointe shoe company, does a great job at that.”



April 29, 2014

Trunk Shows in Arkansas

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Russian Pointe

Footlights Trunk Show

Footlights Trunk Show

Footlights Trunk Show

Footlights Trunk Show

Russian Pointe® recently had the opportunity to visit some of our favorite retailers in Arkansas, and we are so pleased at how well our shoes are received there!

On April 12, Russian Pointe® Business Development Manager Megan Bentz held an all-day Trunk Show at Footlights in Little Rock, AR.

The store was decked out with purple balloons and the Russian Pointe® banner for the event, and all of the staff dressed up in purple to add to the fun.

Denise White, sales representative at Footlights, said the store’s customers love Russian Pointe®. “A lot of our customers wear it and love it,” she said. “It’s a beautiful shoe and it looks great on stage.”

The entire day was filled with non-stop pointe shoe fittings, with many loyal Russian Pointe® customers coming to learn about additional models and to make sure they were wearing the best model for their feet or to inquire about small changes they could make to their shoes to give them an even better fit.

One of the highlights of the day was fitting five professional dancers from Ballet Arkansas in Russian Pointe® shoes. These dancers order very customized shoes from Russian Pointe® and were eager to talk through various options and tweaks to their existing shoes to find an even more secure fit.

Lauren McCarty Horak, one of the dancers from Ballet Arkansas, said she has been wearing Russian Pointe® for the past two seasons. “I wear Rubin 37.5N with a 3 vamp and a FH shank. I love the way the 3 vamp holds my arch/ foot very stable in the shoe and am happy with the sleek look they give to my feet. The harder shank makes them last much longer than the previous pointe shoes I have worn,” she said.

In addition, two local dance teachers also attended the Trunk Show so they could learn more about the various Russian Pointe® models and make better recommendations to their students, and one teacher stayed to watch several of her students get fitted.

White said the trunk show was a big success. “It went great,” she said. “[Bentz] knew a lot about the product and she was able to teach us about it.”

Then on April 14, Bentz traveled to Fayetteville, AR, for another trunk show at Dance & More Store. Here, Bentz spent a lot of time training local dance teachers in what to look for in dancers’ feet when selecting pointe shoes.

“We just had a blast,” owner Kit Barlow said of the trunk show. “Megan is super knowledgable.”

One male dance teacher attended the Trunk Show who wanted to try on a pair of pointe shoes so he could understand more about what his dance students feel like in their shoes. After trying on his very first pair of pointe shoes, he stayed to watch the pointe shoe fittings and ask many detailed questions about how to fit them properly.

Of the dancers who attended, many were trying Russian Pointe® shoes for the first time.

Barlow said Russian Pointe® shoes have always been popular in her store, and they are consistently the #1 or #2 best-selling pointe shoe. “The fit is fabulous,” she said. “The construction quality is very, very good.”

Barlow also says she loves the fact that there are so many different models and sizing options that allow for a very personalized fit for each dancer. “It’s nice to be able to stay within one brand and fit a lot of different feet,” she said.



Trunk Show at Shape Shop in Boca Raton, FL

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Russian Pointe

Shape Shop

Shape Shop

Shape Shop

Sofia Konstance Uralsky with Leslie and Davie Elowitz of Shape Shop

Russian Pointe® took a trip to the Sunshine State recently, as expert pointe shoe fitter Sofia Konstance Uralsky held an all-day Trunk Show at Shape Shop in Boca Raton, FL.

Owners Leslie and David Elowitz celebrated the occasion with festive balloons and snacks, including chocolate lollipops in the shape of pointe shoes.

Shape Shop already stocks many different styles of Russian Pointe® — including the Rubin, Brava, Entrada and Almaz models – and Leslie Elowitz said Russian Pointe® is very popular at her store.

“Russian Pointe® is probably my best-selling pointe shoe,” Leslie Elowitz said. “We love them because they look good and they work for a lot of different girls.”

Shape Shop is one of the largest sellers of Russian Pointe® in South Florida, and Elowitz said hosting a Trunk Show is just another way to stay on top of the latest styles from the brand. “The Trunk Show gives me as a retailer an opportunity to see styles that I’m not currently carrying,” she said.

In fact, most of the dancers who scheduled pointe shoe fittings during the Trunk Show were already fans of Russian Pointe® who were interested in finding out about other models the brand offers, and a few dancers came hoping that Uralsky could find a way to make their favorite shoes fit even better.

One dancer, for example, who was wearing the Brava shoes, wanted to try them in a lower vamp height to see if that would help get her up and over her toes even more easily. Uralsky had her try a Vamp 1, instead of the standard Vamp 2, and the dancer was instantly pleased.

“She was very relieved to find a shoe that was going to work for her,” Uralsky said.

Another dancer who attended the Trunk Show had originally been fit in Russian Pointe® shoes at the company’s headquarters in Chicago several years ago. She said she was impressed with both the quality of the shoes, as well as with the dedication and precision that each Russian Pointe® fitter showed in finding the right fit for every dancer.

After Uralsky analyzed her feet and had her try on several models, Uralsky determined she was already wearing the perfect shoe for her feet – a testament to Russian Pointe®’s commitment to thorough education and training of its fitters.

Throughout the day, Uralsky fit many dancers in the Lumina model, which does not taper in the box or in the heel, making it ideal for dancers with rectangular, even-toed feet, and by the end of the event, the owners were considering adding both the Lumina and the new Entrada Pro models to their line-up.

“A lot of our Russian Pointe customers were very pleased with the different style options [they could try during the trunk show],” Elowitz said. “It was good for me as a retailer to see some of the new styles, especially the Entrada Pro.”



April 25, 2014

My Dance Story | Jessica Ivey

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: My Dance Story

Jessica Ivey's Dance Story

Jessica Ivey's Dance Story

My Nana always said I started dancing before I could walk, so she signed me up for my first ballet class when I was 3-years-old. When I was little, my favorite thing about dance class was watching the big girls ‘spin’ and ’twirl’ in pointe shoes, or as I called them ‘big ballerina shoes’. Ever since we started learning variations from different ballets, I have learned that what I really like is performing for people, even if I’m not on a stage. My first costume was a purple and white tool dress with jewels and sequins. I still remember the song and part of the dance for my first performance. I also remember that after everyone had left the stage, I stayed on stage, because the audience was still clapping. Right now, I am dancing at Artisan School of Dance where I am focusing on Pointe, Ballet, Contemporary, and Jazz. My aunt passed away recently, she loved to watch my dance as she played the piano. For that reason we have moved her piano into our dance room. They (the people I dance with) may not know it, but she is there playing the piano and watching me dance every day. I do and always will dance for you and only you, I love you Aunt Beth. ~Jessica Ivey


April 22, 2014

Russian Pointe® Retailer: Finer Pointes

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Russian Pointe, Retail Affiliate Profiles

Finer Pointes
Jenna Little, owner of Finer Pointes Dance Shop in Portland, ME, knows pretty much everything there is to know about feet.

With more than 20 years of pointe shoe fitting experience, Little can judge whether a pair of pointe shoes fits a dancer correctly simply by looking at her.

“If the shoes fit correctly, the girls look tall in their shoes and the ribs fit right over their hips,” she says. “If they’re not aligned, they’ll throw their shoulder blades out and they’ll turn out from the knees.”

Finer Pointes dates back to 1989 when Little opened the store with her mother. At the time, Little was in her 20s and was taking dance classes. One time, she went to a dance store asking for pointe shoes, they simply pointed to a wall and told her to try them on herself. From then on, Little knew she wanted to help people navigate the world of pointe shoes.

Today, Little prides herself on paying attention to individual dancers’ anatomical quirks to help her find the perfect fit for each dancer. “What works with one person alignment-wise won’t work with everybody,” she says, adding that she makes sure that each pair of pointe shoes fits perfectly, so the dancer controls the shoes, rather than the shoes controlling the dancer.

In fact, Little says she loves Russian Pointe® shoes specifically because they can be so customizable for each dancer with a variety of widths, shanks, vamps and more – which not only makes dancers look prettier, but also makes them safer.

When Little first started carrying Russian Pointe® shoes, she started out with the Jewels Collection – made up of the Almaz, Rubin and Sapfir models — and she says she loved the fact that the shoe is low in profile, which helps support the dancer’s foot and makes them feel more secure when they are up on pointe.

Now, Little carries the Almaz, Rubin, Brava, Encore, Entrada and Muse models from Russian Pointe®.

Little also likes that fact that Russian Pointe® shoes are handcrafted, but are also designed to be durable. “What I try to do is stick with companies that have good quality and craftsmanship that aren’t mass produced,” she says. “If you’re going to be doing pointe, you really shouldn’t be wearing shoes that are going to disintegrate.”

In the next few weeks, Finer Pointes is moving to a new, larger location in Portland, where Little is planning to build a studio inside the store that will be devoted to education. She plans to hold seminars for dancers and dance teachers on pointe shoe fitting, how to use foam rollers, tips from an orthopedic specialist and more.

We wish Finer Pointes the best of luck, and hope they are around for another 25 years!



April 18, 2014

Harvard class reunion in India

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: Aleksandra in the Community

Aleksandra Efimova trip to India

Aleksandra Efimova trip to India

Aleksandra Efimova trip to India

Aleksandra Efimova with the President of India

Aleksandra Efimova trip to India

It has been almost four years since I graduated from Harvard Business School, and I recently had the opportunity to connect with my classmates at a spectacular reunion in India.

India is a breathtaking country, and I absolutely loved the bright colors of the flowers and saris, the delicious food and the warmth and hospitality of the people. It is truly magical!

The trip began in New Delhi, where we attended a lecture by Lynda Applegate, a professor of business administrator at Harvard Business School. We also had the chance to meet with the leaders of one of the largest Ayurvedic medicine manufacturers in India, as well as other international business leaders and local politicians to learn more about India’s current business climate.

Next, we took a tour of a local clinic where they make prosthetic limbs for people who have lost their arms and legs, and I was especially touched by the important work they are doing for the community.

After a few days in New Delhi, we traveled to the Taj Mahal, with its gorgeous gardens and impressive architecture. And finally, we headed to Jaipur, where we stayed in a former palace and played polo on elephants!

The highlight of the trip, however, was a private meeting with the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, at his official residence in New Delhi.

The President spoke about India’s continued economic growth and said that as the number of middle class consumers in India continues to swell, the market will likely become more attractive for global business.

I am so grateful for the education I received at Harvard and for the dynamic, forward-thinking business leaders who were my classmates and who continue to inspire me with their hard work and vision. I look forward to our next reunion abroad!



Russian Pointe® Retailer: All 4 Dance

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Russian Pointe, Retail Affiliate Profiles

Damian Ehlers

All 4 Dance

How many military men can say they sell pointe shoes? At least one, and his name is Damian Ehlers, owner of All 4 Dance in Edmonton, Canada.

Ehlers was a member of the Australian military when he met his wife, Kim, a Canadian dance studio owner who was visiting Australia. After several years of a long-distance relationship, Ehlers moved to Edmonton to be with Kim, and the two got married.

After the couple had their second baby in 2008, Ehlers had the idea of opening his own business, and when a local dancewear store went up for sale, Ehlers decided to jump into the dance retail world with both feet.

With no background in pointe shoes or dance, Ehlers had a lot to learn about fitting pointe shoes. “My first pointe shoe fittings were nerve-wracking,” he remembers.

To familiarize himself with pointe shoes, Ehlers and his wife both signed up for Russian Pointe®’s Pointe Shoe Fitting Seminar in Chicago, where they met Aleksandra Efimova and spent an entire weekend learning about the nuances of the various Russian Pointe models and how to fit various types of feet.

Since then, Ehlers has perfected his technique and become known as an expert pointe shoe fitter with a keen eye and good communication skills. Ehlers approaches point shoe fitting analytically, trying to check for the right length and width of each shoe as well as pressure points on the feet. “I look at it as a problem solving activity because I like solving problems,” he says.

Today, Ehlers continues to carry Russian Pointe® shoes, including the Almaz, Brava, Dolce, Entrada and Rubin models. “They’re such a pretty shoe,” he says of Russian Pointe®. “It makes [dancers’] feet look so slender.”

Ehlers says his two favorite models are the Almaz and the Rubin because they are both very versatile shoes. “I can switch between those two shoes and get a good fit,” he says.

Ehlers prefers to fit dancers in V-cut pointe shoes, rather than U-cut models, because he says when dancers pull on the drawstring, they can create puckering in the rest of the shoe, which can rub on the foot and become painful.

In addition to being known for their thorough pointe shoe fittings, Ehlers also attributes his store’s success to exceptional customer service.

Ehlers says he’s heard about other stores where employees are rude or argumentative with customers, and he always encourages his staff to be courteous, even if that means having to offer a refund, because one or two bad reviews online can damage your reputation. “We always make sure we’re polite,” he says. “The social media part of it can destroy your business.”

Unlike some dancewear stores, Ehlers does not put too much emphasis on catering to dance schools, believing instead that studios will endorse brands that their students want to wear.

“Who is my customer? Is it the studio or the person standing in the store?” Ehlers says.



Attending the Youth American Grand Prix Finals

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Russian Pointe

YAGP gala 2014

YAGP Gala 2014 

YAGP gala 2014

Aleksandra Efimova with Sergei Filin, Artistic Director of Bolshoi Ballet

Each year, when I attend the Youth America Grand Prix finals in New York City, I am always inspired by the artistry, grace and athleticism of the dancers who participate, and I am moved by seeing such young, talented dancers who are committed to pursuing their passion.

The Youth America Grand Prix is the world’s largest student ballet scholarship competition, with more than 5,000 dance students between the ages 9 and 19 competing from around the globe. Of those, only 350 dancers are selected to attend the finals in New York City, where they compete for scholarships to the world’s leading dance schools. This year, the finals were held from April 9 to 11 at the David M. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York.

Russian Pointe® was a proud sponsor of the event – attending the semi-finals throughout the United States, as well as the finals in New York — and we were thrilled to be able to do our part to help so many young dancers achieve their dreams.

I loved watching the final performances, which featured dancers from all over the globe, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Monaco, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland and, of course, the United States.

In addition to the competition, the festivities also included a gala on Thursday night, as well as a special performance on Friday in honor of the organization’s 15 year anniversary, both of which featured the student dancers as well as professional dancers from some of the world’s most renowned dance companies including The Bolshoi Ballet, The New York City Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, The San Francisco Ballet, Ballet West, the Bavarian State Ballet and more.

There was also a pre-show reception on Friday with Bolshoi Ballet Artistic Director Sergei Filin, who has recently been able to return to work again after almost losing his eyesight in an acid attack. Later, I had the honor of meeting Mr. Filin in person, and as the Chair of the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, I extended an invitation to him to bring the Bolshoi Ballet to Chicago someday.

Although only a handful of dancers ultimately took home the grand prizes, I know that all 5,000 dancers who participated in all levels of the YAGP put their heart and souls into their performances, and all of them should be commended for their hard work.

To me, it is essential to support organizations, such as the YAGP, that help students participate in the arts and ballet, because I know that being involved in the arts helps young people gain valuable skills that will help them succeed in life, such as discipline, perseverance and the ability to work together. Congratulations to all of this year’s dancers!



March 31, 2014

Trunk Show at Soleus Dance & Fitness Wear

 Posted By: Aleksandra Efimova  In: About Russian Pointe

Soleus

Soleus

It’s always wonderful to visit retailers around the country who carry Russian Pointe® shoes, but it is especially heartwarming to visit a store where the customers are already fans of Russian Pointe.®

That was definitely the case at Soleus Dance & Fitness Wear in Redding, CA, where we held a trunk show and pointe shoe fittings on Saturday, March 22.

Soleus is located in a relatively rural area, more than two hours north of Sacramento, and it is the only place within a 100-mile radius that dancers can find Russian Pointe® shoes. Fans of Russian Pointe® normally drive hours to purchase their favorite shoes, and many came to the trunk show from long distances, just for the chance to be fitted by a Russian Pointe® expert.

“They have a lot of loyalty to the brand in that area,” said Russian Pointe® Business Development Manager Megan Bentz, adding that so many people had signed up for pointe shoe fittings that the store had to extend their regular hours.

Bentz said many of the dancers who came in for fittings brought their current Russian Pointe® shoes, just to make sure they were wearing the correct shoes, and she said she was pleased to discover that most dancers were already wearing their proper model. “It’s nice to know that our retailers are on the same page with us,” she said.

In fact, one of the fitters at the store, Stephanie, encouraged several girls to attend the Russian Pointe® trunk show because they have unusual feet, and Stephanie wanted to be sure that she was fitting them correctly. As Bentz fit the girls, she explained how Stephanie could deal with such problems as dancers with feet of different lengths and widths, dancers with super flexible arches and dancers who twist in their shoes.

One of the most fun moments of the day was doing a pointe shoe fitting for a male dancer named Garrett. Since male feet are wider than women’s feet, and since men distribute more weight through their feet, it’s important to find shoes that are wide and have strong, supportive shanks.

Luckily, Bentz had two shoes that were wide enough for Garrett to try on, and he was so excited to get to try on his first ever pair of pointe shoes.

Angie Lidster, owner of Soleus, said watching Bentz do fittings helped her and her staff brush up on their knowledge of Russian Pointe®’s models. “We learned a lot about the shoes, especially about the Entrada Pro, which seems like it’s really going to solve a lot of problems we’ve had with different feet,” she said.

Overall, Lidster was very pleased with the entire event. “We love the line,” she said. “All of the clients who had appointments left really happy.”



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