BY ADELE GAMMILL
Ballet dancer Ilse Smith has owned about 25 to 30 pairs of shoes, gets blisters on a regular basis, and has had a couple of toenails fall off, which is very common for dancers on pointe. Pointe shoes are very intricate, sometimes dangerous and definitely different from every other dance shoe out there. If she’s in a rush, she can usually put on her shoes in one minute, but if she has time it usually take about three minutes or so.
Smith, who has an undeniable essence of a ballerina, attends the studio Montana Ballet Company (MBC) and also attended The Dance Center, which is another dance studio in Bozeman.
“It’s really professional Smith says about MBC. There’s three studios, and they teach really little kids through high school. The instructors are really nice, but strict enough so you do see improvement quickly.”
Like every other little girl, she just wanted to try ballet class. But unlike many who start ballet at a young age, she decided to keep going with it.
” I don’t really know why I wanted to start dance, I wanted to when I was a little kid, and I just decided that I wanted to keep doing it, and I pretty much did ballet.” Smith has been dancing for eight years now.
When she was little, she always looked up to the older girls and wanted to be just like them. “ I went on pointe when I was ten years old.”
(Most ballet dancers are 12 years old and older when they get this level.) She would like to pursue ballet as a career in the future.
Now that she’s a sophomore in high school, she can dedicate more time to her passion.
“I probably spend seven hours a week there.”
She’s there five times a week including the weekends. A regular practice looks like stretching before class starts, time on the barre, and then going to center to practice technique. Then, they start rehearsing for their next performance. She does find it challenging to balance school with dance. When she gets home, she puts on her tights, her leotard, and heads to dance. On Wednesdays she arrives home around nine pm and finishes her homework around 11 pm.
Smith says her favorite part about practice is learning new things, new dances, and she loves hanging out with her friends there. Like every dancer before they go on stage, she does get nervous, but she says that performing is her favorite part about dance.
“We have to wear a lot of stage makeup, because the audience has to see our faces from far away so we wear like fake eyelashes and things like that.”