Ahnu — Shoes Inspired By Dance

If you are the outdoor activity type, you may have already heard of this company’s shoes–they make hiking boots, trail runners and other performance footwear. Starting out in the San Francisco Bay area in 2007, three founders got together and created a shoe line that reflected the name that they chose for it: Ahnu.

Ahnu is the Celtic goddess that embodies the balance between well-being and prosperity. To that end, not only has the company succeeded in doing well in the industry, but they have also donated over $250,000 to charitable causes–something they plan to continue doing.

The “Zen” and “Karma” shoes are among Ahnu’s latest efforts, and they were inspired by dance. Here’s a closer look at both:

The Zen

The Zen ($80) is a luxe leather slide with a sculpted EVA footbed. I recently wore a pair of these around town for a week, and I’m here to tell you that they are quite comfortable. Although they are casual, they are dressier than flip-flops, but just as easy on the feet, with a little added protection for tender toes. (Note–for the record, they have a toe-seperator like flip-flops do, so those who just don’t like that feeling may want to think twice before purchasing a pair.)

I found these shoes to be incredibly light–kind of like Crocs, but ever so much more stylish. And they are available in black, garden green, plum and smokey brown, so there is plenty of variety.


The Karma

The other shoe they have is the Karma ($90). Made from soft, supple, full-grain leathers, these flats are good for all day wear. The stretchy back heel provides a secure fit and they don’t take up much room in a travel bag. The sculpted EVA footbed is wrapped in micro-fiber suede to offer a soft feel with every step. These shoes are available in black, mood indigo, plum and garden green.

I liked the Zen shoes…they felt more like slippers. The only thing I own that is as comfortable is my (well broken in) pair of cowboy boots. But wearing those in the summer isn’t exactly practical…

What do you wear when you want to rest your feet?


Top Dance Apps Of 2012

Today we have a guest post by Jane Johnson who is going to share 5 fun dance apps she has come across…

Salsa, break dance, tap dance, ballet, tango, cha-cha-cha, swing dance…even though there are hundreds of different types of dance, dancers represent a true niche market audience as far as smart phone apps go. However, did you know that novice and veteran dancers alike can use their mobile devices to look up how to do a proper shoulder groove in break dancing as fast as they can check movie times?

When my daughter first started ballet 5 years ago, I never anticipated downloading smart phone apps for her to use between rehearsals. However, the dance apps that are available for mobile devices are really quite impressive.

As the mom of a prima ballerina (at least in my eyes), here are the top dance apps of 2012:

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Ballet Teaching Aid: Words Of The Week

One of the advertisers on 4dancers is selling a new product that I thought I would share with readers today…”Words of the Week”.

This calendar-style visual aid can help ballet teachers reinforce terminology and help visual learners absorb more easily. Hang in the studio and use to refer to when teaching a new step, or use to theme out the week. There are many different ways to incorporate this neat resource into the classroom. The pages are high gloss card stock, so they should hold up for a long time.

Perfect for the dance studio owner, and good for teaching children of all ages.



Perfect for dance studios, teacher gifts, or any dancer.

This visual aid hangs like a spiral bound calendar and displays over
50 ballet terms or phrases. 18 displays with 2 to 4 phrases per display.

Hang the perpetual display prominently in your studio and
turn the page every week or two. Use the “Words of the Week” as a
reminder to discuss, define and illustrate ballet vocabulary.

Students absorb their terminology much faster when they have a
chance to “see” the term. Having the “Words of the Week” system
helps insure you cover essential terms throughout the year.

8.5 x 11 folded. Full display is 11 X 17.
Printed on high quality gloss stock to last for years.

               Words of the Week    $22.95



Review: Artistry In Motion by Lisa Harris

It really is a joy to be able to listen to ballet class music that is arranged by someone who has been doing it for such a long time. It’s something I think of every time I hear one of this lady’s CDs.

Lisa Harris is known for her musical work in the ballet classroom, both as a pianist and as an artist who releases CDs for ballet class (as well as digital music). “Artistry in Motion” is an excellent example of why she is so well-regarded in the field.

Selections here include favorites such as an adagio from Swan Lake, slow tendu music from Bach and a minuet from Mozart. Harris has a knack for selecting composers that mesh well with a particular exercise, and her command of the piano insures that they are played flawlessly. This makes for a CD that is wonderful for both the teacher and the students in the classroom.

This album has 26 (repeated) tracks for the barre and 16 for the centre. Other composers that are included in the mix here include: Schubert, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Handel, Verdi and Adam.

Interested in this album, or in seeing more of what Lisa Harris has to offer for the ballet classroom? Visit her site. For those who are making the switch to digital music–she has options for you as well.


Review: Every Step You Take by Jock Soto

by Catherine L. Tully

I’m fascinated by the lives of dancers. Even though I was one, I can never seem to get past the fact that each of us has such a distinctly different path–and a totally unique perspective on what it is like to live this life.

Because of that, I was excited to read Every Step You Take, a memoir written by Jock Soto (with Leslie Marshall). After all, this is a man that I grew up watching in the ballet world. Soto was a principal dancer with NYCB when he retired at the age of 40, and this book begins with the end of his career on stage. A peek inside the thoughts and fears that swirl around one’s head when the final performance looms, I thought it was a great opener.

Where, I thought, will this book go from here?

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Review: Variations by Lisa Harris

This is a CD by the well-known ballet pianist, Lisa Harris. Variations features some unique tracks, adapted for piano, including:

Seasons/Elton John

History of Us/Indigo Girls

Save the Best for Last/Waldmen

‘Til There Was You/Willson

The Rose/Midler

Piano Man/Joel

And many others, including classical composers, Tchiakovsky and Delibes. Played expertly by Harris, there are tracks for both barre (19) and centre (20). If you are looking for a ballet class music CD with lots of variety, this is it.

The music here can be used for classes at all levels. I’m sure adults would appreciate the selections, but the music would work for any age group. If you haven’t heard Ms. Harris play before, know that she has plenty of experience–and many other CDs to choose from, as well as digital downloads available. Look for more reviews of her music on 4dancers soon.

Visit her site for more information and for samples of the music.


Review: “Dancing Keys” by Gill Civil

This is one of two ballet class music CDs by Gill Civil. Keep an eye out for the other review, coming up soon.

“Dancing Keys” has 28 tracks–all original works that were played and composed by Civil. I really do love the original ballet class music CDs. I think it adds another level of artistry to the class environment to use compositions that were created with this particular dance form in mind. Adapted pieces are fine–and many people like them. I just prefer original work.

I believe this would be a perfect CD for an adult ballet class or beginner/intermediate class. The music is clear and metered, and the selection is good. The reason I wouldn’t use it for an advanced ballet class is because the barre is on the short side. Other than that, it is appropriate. Tracks are of adequate length–neither too short, nor too long.

The centre music is plentiful, with tracks that include sautes, allegro, waltz, gavotte and adage. I found the music inspiring and beautiful. I think it is such a challenge to come up with tracks that have heart in them, and Civil is able to do so. She has quite a background in the field, having played for schools and companies in New Zealand, Canada and Australia–she’s no newbie to this type of music and it shows.

If you would like to hear samples of the music on “Dancing Keys” or if you want to purchase a CD to use for teaching, visit her website.