Name: Alayna Hamade
Where do you currently live/train? Austin, Texas, Ballet Academy North
What kind of pointe shoes do you wear? Nikolay Pointe Shoes
How and when did you get your start in dance?
I started dance when I was around three years old after seeing The Nutcracker at Ballet Austin. I wanted to be just like the ballerinas on the stage!
I know you won third place in the Classical category at YAGP 2020. Congrats! Can you tell us about some of your favorite experiences in competitions or at intensives?
Thank you so much! I have had so many great experiences in competitions and at intensives. Something I love is being able to see the other dancers from around the world. It is so inspiring to be in an environment with other people who love dance just as much as I do. I also love getting to see dancers that I don’t regularly train with and their progress year over the year.
Do you have any funny memories or stories from the stage or studio?
One of my favorite memories would have to be from this past year at YAGP, Houston. My classmates and I were all huddled backstage before the awards. We were all so tired from the busy weekend, but we are all so excited for the awards. It was so fun to cheer on my classmates and see all of our hard work from the past year pay off.
How have you been able to keep up your technique over the past few months?
I have been lucky that my studio has continued doing online classes via Zoom. My planned summer intensive was canceled due to the pandemic, but it was a blessing in disguise. I had the opportunity to take classes, virtually, from professional dancers and schools around the globe. I wouldn’t have had those experiences otherwise, and I am so grateful for the resilience and ingenuity of the dance community.
You recently attended the Elite Classical Coaching Summer Intensive; how was your time there, and what precautions did you have to take due to Covid-19?
The teachers and the dancers were all so amazing, and I learned so much while I was there. It was my first time back in a studio in months, and it was like coming up for air again.
They took precautions seriously and laid out the guidelines ahead of time, so we knew what to expect. Everything was wiped down between classes, including the barres and other surfaces. We all made sure to stay at least six feet apart in the studio, and we wore masks in the studios and hallways. During breaks, we were reminded to wash our hands to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
What is one product in your dance bag that you can’t live without!?
My Nikolay Pointe Shoes! I wear the Nova model, and they offer such great support and help me get through long rehearsals.
Is there anything special you do to prepare your pointe shoes before wearing them?
I sew on my ribbons in a loop instead of one on either side of the shoe. This makes them much faster and easier to tie and also prevents the ribbon ends from slipping out. I also bang my shoes on the floor to make them quieter. I like my shoes to be very soft and easy to roll through, so I use a blow dryer on the shanks to make them more malleable.
What is an element in your technique that you would like to improve the most? What are you most proud of in your dancing?
I am working on putting more power into my dancing. I am breaking out of my comfort zone to improve my jumps and turns. I have worked hard on my artistry and presentation, and it is something that I am proud of (but you can never stop improving!).
What is something that people might not know about you?
I love Broadway musicals! I have been lucky to see some touring productions that have come to my city. Some of my favorites are Hamilton, Carousel, and Waitress.
What’s next for Alayna? What are your short term and long term plans or goals?
Covid has forced me to renew my focus on training. My goals for this year are to focus on the details and continue to grow. I just started working on a new variation, and I am excited to explore that role.
My long term goal is to build a career as a professional dancer. I want to be able to dance for as long as possible, so for now, I am taking it one day at a time and seeing where ballet takes me.
Our mantra at PointePeople is #FeelGoodDanceBetter. What do you do as a dancer to take care of your body daily?
Some things that I do to #FeelGoodDanceBetter are Pilates and Yoga to help strengthen me alongside my ballet technique. I also always try to roll out every night. I have found that if I don’t roll out my muscles after dancing, I am really sore the next day. I am also trying to nourish my body better. I am learning more about nutrition and choosing foods that will give me the best fuel for training. Another important thing is having a strong community of dancers in the studio; I have so many great dance friends. We constantly build each other up and inspire each other to keep dancing!
What’s something you struggle with as a dancer?
As a dancer, it is tempting to compare ourselves to others. I always try to remember that no one’s dance journey will look the same. I know how hard other dancers have worked to achieve their goals, and I want to celebrate their success rather than feel envious.
Who inspires you, and why?
There are a couple of people who inspire me. Christine Shevchenko, principal at ABT, is one of my favorite dancers. She is an incredible and versatile dancer with an amazing story of perseverance. I would love to see her dance in person one day!
My ballet teacher, Kelly Yankle, is also a huge inspiration to me. Not only is she an insanely talented dancer, but she is also wise and kind and has so much passion for life. I am so lucky to train with her. I’m also grateful for the incredible dancers at my studio. They are kind and supportive and have become like family. I cannot wait to see where dance takes them.
POINTE PAINT Q&A!
Have you tried using Pointe Paint? If so, what did you like about it?
Yes! I love how easy it is to use and all of the amazing colors there are to choose.
What colors/shades have you tried?
I have tried the shade, Coral.
How was using Pointe Paint different from conventional pancaking?
Sometimes pancaking can get a bit messy, and you don’t always get the best coverage. Pointe Paint is so much easier to use, and I get amazing, even coverage from just one bottle of paint.
What shade(s) of Pointe Paint would you love to try?
I would love to try the color, Orchid, for a fun photoshoot, and the color, Macadamia, to match my skin tone for contemporary and neoclassical work.