December 12, 2013 | By Christine Cole, Correspondent
MOUNT DORA — If the question is about dancing en pointe, former professional ballerina Janice Barringer has the answer.
“She literally wrote the book on it,” Kathryn Wheeler, owner of the Mount Dora School of Ballet, said of Barringer, who is originally from Mount Dora.
The author of “The Pointe Book” and “On Pointe” will teach a master class at Wheeler’s school from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday and sign copies of her books at the Barrel of Books and Games, 128 W. Fourth Ave., at 1 p.m.
Barringer’s “The Pointe Book,” now in its third edition, is the only book of its kind — a complete examination of pointe technique and pointe shoes. The book covers the process of shoemaking, tips on fit, care and custom ordering, interviews with well-known ballet dancers about caring for the shoes, injuries and remedies and more.
“I must interview people whose opinion matters in the dance world to update my books,” Barringer said. “For example, I must learn about the newest dance floorings. A spring floor cushions the blow when you jump. Pointe shoes are very slippery and need a good grip on the floor or you could sprain your ankle.”
She found her way to the bigger world through Bronson’s Books and Gifts at Fifth Avenue and Donnelly Street and her friend Carol Edgerton Thayer.
“I bought books on ballet with money I earned babysitting,” Barringer said. “They were $1.50 plus 5 cents tax.”
By the time Barringer was in the fourth grade, she knew ballet would be her future. Thayer, who had been a classmate and took rhythmic dance with Barrington, would stop in New York City when her parents, Marie and Dick Edgerton, journeyed north from their Lakeside Inn to another inn they owned in Vermont.
“Carole had all the addresses,” Barringer said. “So we sent for and got autographed pictures of people like [Dame] Margot Fonteyn, all those who are legends now.”
When they were in the eighth grade, Thayer was sent to a New England boarding school and Barringer became a member of the Ballet Royal Concert Group in Orlando.
“You learned discipline,” she said. “It was friendly but there was a line you didn’t cross. We weighed in on Saturdays, something you can’t do any more for fear of a suit. But students should learn to face it, if you have to be thin in the dance world, you have to be thinner in ballet.”
But you can be thin and strong. Barringer has always eaten in a healthy manner and maintains the perfect posture that is the basis for learning ballet.
She still gives private lessons and teaches at the South Beach Dance Academy in Daytona Beach. She maintains her friendship with Thayer, bonded for life by ballet and by Mount Dora.
“We associate Mount Dora with wonderful memories,” she said.