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“The will must be stronger than the skill.”

Q & A with Alexandra “Allie” Burman

Written By: Rachel Knowles

I first met Allie and her mother Connie Burman when they came into our store around October of 2012. They came in looking for a costume for a contemporary ballet number that she would be performing at the Youth American Grand Prix Regionals in Atlanta, GA. Upon her trying on many different dresses, leotards, and skirt combinations, I got to talk a bit to both Allie, and her mother. This is when I realized there was something special about this young dancer. Almost a year later I asked Allie to join us at an event we were hosting at The Dance WEAR Shoppe featuring the international sales director of Gaynor Minden. While Allie was at the event I got to do a little Q & A with her, and I must say there is a lot to learn from this very grounded young dancer.

Q & A

How old were you when you first started dancing?

Allie first started when she was 3 years old in Arizona where she said “Ms. Jill fostered her love of ballet” Her first performance was a lion king tap number, where after the dance was over little Allie went back on stage to blow kisses and had to be taken off stage by her teacher at the time.

What age did you start pointe? 12 Years Old

When did you know ballet was what you wanted to do with your life?

She was introduced to another studio by a friend where there was more focused ballet training. But she said “ I never felt pushed by my parents to do ballet, I just love that I can perform and make others feel good.” She then went on to explain how she has performed at childrens hospitals and how rewarding that was for her. “If I can dance and make them forget how they are feeling for just a little while it’s worth it. Being so blessed and able to give back like that brings tears to my eyes, I just feel so lucky to be able to bring them happiness or hope”

Where is the coolest place you have traveled or danced?

“Lincoln Center in New York City, and I also loved Paris because I got to perform on my first ripped stage.” She then went on to talk more about how she loved Europe specifically London & Paris.

What titles do you currently hold?

“I have only competed at 2 competitions so far.” She competed at the YAGP Atlanta Regionals and won First Place in the Womens Senior Classical Division. She then went on to perform at the American Ballet Competition in Boston 2013 where she also won First Place in The Womens Senior Classical Division where she also was directors choice at the Gala Performance.

What dancer would you said you look up to?

“Julie Kent!” She said without any hesitation. “not to take anything away from other professionals, there are many inspirational dancers in the world, there is just something so special about her. It is surreal to work with her.” She went on “If I had to give a definition of a ballerina, I’d say Julie Kent.”

What is next for Allie Burman?

She just moved from Sarasota where she was training at the Sarasota school of Cuban ballet to Pompano Beach FL to study at “The Art Of Classical Ballet”. She is going to continue working on her strength and technique and possibly start competing more.

What advice would you give to other dancers trying to pursue a career in ballet?

“The will must be stronger than the skill” and also “It’s never too late to start anything you love, if you’re determined and you have support there isn’t anything you can’t do.” She also went on to talk about health and how important it is, not only physical health but mental health. “You have to eat right and take care of yourself.”

“No one is ever perfect but you can have perfect moments.”

I think even after reading just a small bit of Allies interview it says a lot about her as a young role model. I have no doubt that Allie Burman will be a force to be reckoned with in the ballet world. I also don’t doubt that even as her success grows she will remain the same humble and grateful person she is now.

For more information about Allie you can follow her on her facebook page:

Or follow her day to day life on Instagram:


*Special thank you to Allie and Connie Burman for participating in our event.

-Rachel Knowles

The DanceWEAR Shoppe

315 Interstate Blvd.

Sarasota, FL 34240

(941) 312-6312

The Gaynor Minden Controversy Continues

Written By. Rachel Knowles

“A pointe shoe that has 2,951 custom sizes, what could go wrong?” Those were my first thoughts when I was introduced to Gaynor Minden pointe shoes. I started working at The DanceWEAR shoppe in September of 2012, and as a former dancer I was in complete heaven when I first saw and tried on a Gaynor Minden pointe shoe. Upon reading loads of information about the somewhat overwhelming technology that is the Gaynor Minden shoe, I was a little bit confused. How could a shoe like this NOT be worn by the majority of ballet dancers? I was given many different reasons from teachers, students, and parents on a daily basis. All ranging from its lack of tradition, to the challenge of the fit, and the cost. It is now August of 2013 and my love for Gaynor Minden has not changed, but I am still hearing all about their controversial innovation.

Generally at the start of a fitting we will ask a student what brand they came in hoping they would walk out of the door with. The common answer in a first time fitting is “well my teacher wants me in this...” or “all of my friends at my studio wear this.” Once we know where to start we go through a general fitting process, the length, the box size, what strength shank the student may need etc. More often than not we can find a proper fit in the brand the student wants. However there have been many times where I find myself exhausting all of multiple brands options, which in some cases can be very limiting as far as box size and vamp are concerned. At this point in a fitting, not only do we as fitters get frustrated by the limitations, but the dancer gets discouraged as well. This is where Gaynor Minden pointe shoes solve a multitude of problems during a fitting.

Gaynor Minden pointe shoes are like no other on the market right now. When you look at the traditional pointe shoe you see the length ( i.e 7.5), the box size (i.e 3X), and the shank (i.e Soft, Medium or Hard). Now don’t get me wrong, most traditional brands offer different models of shoes, but the differences between styles can be little to nothing. When you fit a Gaynor Minden you have options for almost every aspect of a dancers foot, and instead of being given one option for vamp or heel based on a majority, you are able to specify one or the other based on your individual needs. Therefore you get the length or overall fit, the box or fit of the forefoot, the width or fit of the mid foot, the shank or support, the vamp or the fit of the top of the foot, and lastly the heel or the fit of the back of the foot. When comparing fit options between a traditional shoe and a Gaynor Minden I’d say it was a no brainer.

Then we get into what I think is the true controversy behind Gaynor Minden pointe shoes. They are not made like a traditional shoe in almost any way. Instead of using paste and cardboard to construct their shoe, Gaynor Minden uses high quality elastomerics to create their unbreakable shanks and boxes. So where a traditional shoe will break down from moisture and general ware, a Gaynor Minden lasts 3-6 times longer. All of this means you don’t have to go through the sometimes grueling process of breaking a shoe in. Gaynor Mindens are what they are from the time you first put them on to the time you decide they are too dirty or stinky to wear any longer.

The elastomeric technology also plays a huge role in how the body reacts to the unnatural movement of ballet and its effects on a dancers body. The most important aspect of a dancers length of career is based on their skeletal and muscular health. Many people may not realize how taxing ballet is on a body, let alone the damage it can cause long term. The number one reason for early retirement in ballerinas is due to injury. So I would assume if there were anything that could be done to help eliminate the odds of injury or general fatigue of muscles and bones, all dancers would be open to change. Besides the fact that Gaynor Mindens have added support for comfort, the technology also lessens the impact of landing from jumps by using shock absorption, and provides a soft, silent and easier landing. Where traditional shoes can be hard, and loud when landing on a stage.

I like to put it this way, Nike has been making shoes for athletes since 1950, and not one athlete would choose to wear a shoe with old technology that can help further risk of injury. They all choose to wear what is the best, as far as how it’s made, and what it’s made for. I think that is all Gaynor Minden is trying to do as a brand, they are making a better shoe, with a better fit and better technology for dancers. From professionals to beginners I don’t think anyone can go wrong wearing a Gaynor Minden, and as someone who is exposed to the controversy on a daily basis, along with the pros and cons of a traditional shoe vs. a Gaynor I say the ballet world needs to expand its mind and embrace the change. Not to say that other pointe shoe brands are beautifully made and worn, I just feel for all the hard work that goes into making ballet look effortless, why not help make it a little more diverse in sizing, use upgraded technology, and lastly help out a dancers body.

Thank you & Happy Dancing!

-Rachel Knowles

*For more information about Gaynor Minden pointe shoes visit their youtube channel for awesome videos from the Gaynor Minden artist, fitting tips, and more!

If you already know your Gaynor Minden size, order anytime at .

To Schedule a local fitting call us at (941) 312-6312 or visit to get a virtual fitting with Gaynor Minden professionals.

For any other questions or comments please email Rachel at