By Laura Di Orio by Dance Informa.
When Mary Carpenter started work at a small Repetto boutique in New York City in order to get a discount on dancewear, little did she know that that job would guide her to a flourishing career as a professional pointe shoe fitter and, most recently, producer of her own YouTube channel, DancewithmaryNYC, geared to “all things pointe shoes”.
Now, Carpenter’s YouTube channel, which launched in January, is a new and promising resource for the dance community. She brings her experience as a dancer, teacher and pointe shoe expert to offer intelligent and useful information to dance students, teachers, professionals and dance enthusiasts.
Carpenter, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, trained at College Conservatory of Music, Butler University and the David Howard Dance Center. She has danced for Lexington Ballet, Maryland Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera, among other dance and theater companies. She currently teaches ballet and Pilates at Barnard College, New School University, Steps and The School at Steps.
As a professional dancer, she often thought about pointe shoes – how many pointe shoes did she ideally need in a given season, how many pointe shoes was it more realistic to actually have, how to extend the life of a shoe, how to bring “dead” shoes back to life. She understood the fine line between making a pair of shoes last and wearing a pair that was dangerously too soft. She also grasped the importance of finding a brand and style of pointe shoes that was right for her own feet.
At Repetto USA, a stone’s throw from dance mecca Lincoln Center, a master fitter trained Carpenter in proper pointe shoe fitting. The fitter, who also came from a pre-med background, inspired Carpenter to soak up every piece of information.
“I became a fitter because they needed more fitters at Repetto,” Carpenter explains. “I was disinterested until I started the training. Let’s face it, I was there for the discount, but it was like a light bulb went off in my head, and I really took to it.”
From Repetto, Carpenter went on to work at Gaynor Minden, Capezio, Freed, and she currently works as a professional pointe shoe fitter at Chacott by Freed of London in New York City.
With a wealth of experience and knowledge, it is no wonder that Carpenter wanted to share her wisdom with the world. Originally, she thought she’d like to write a book, but by the encouragement of her graphic design artist nephew, her YouTube channel, DancewithmaryNYC, was born.
“It is important to stay current,” Carpenter says. “Social media is current, YouTube is everything. My nephew started a production company with some friends called FAM, which stands for ‘family’, and I was their first customer. They did research and said there was no one doing anything like it, so we went for it.”
DancewithmaryNYC had a soft launch on January 5, and Carpenter hopes to release well-done, pertinent segments each month.
“I am really excited because it will be a variety of formats,” Carpenter adds. “Sometimes it is a demo, like the first one when I demonstrate how to cut a shank. Sometimes it will be interviews with a respected dance professional.”
Other topics Carpenter hopes to address in the near future include the use of padding in pointe shoes, foot care, strengthening exercises, beginner pointe students, men en pointe, and ribbon and elastic stitching.
“I think it is really important that teachers and students have a place to go where they can get good, intelligent information,” Carpenter says. “I have a diverse background with teaching and Pilates and all those brands I worked with. I just want to share my knowledge. Even if you can’t come to New York City for a professional fitting, you can watch the segments and learn something.”
To keep up to date with Carpenter and her latest pointe-related segments, check out and subscribe to her YouTube channel, DancewithmaryNYC.
Photo (top): Mary Carpenter demonstrates how to prepare a pointe shoe’s shank on the first episode of her YouTube channel, DancewithmaryNYC. Photo courtesy of Mary Carpenter.