Ever wondered what having pointe shoes is like?
Do you think it would be the most wonderful experience of your life?
Do you think it would be the most difficult? Most painful? Most frustrating? Most exhilarating?
This is still only my first year en pointe... but I think I now have enough experience to answer these questions for myself.
The answer is: All of the above.
As a ballerina, I always looked forward to pointe. Even when I was no longer doing dance, I still thought of it with longing. Being en pointe is something every beauty-loving dancer wants to achieve. It allows a whole new level of poignant movement, and a whole new challenge to conquer. But pointe is demanding. It takes pain, blood, and/or tears. Each pointe dancer has different feet with different needs, and trial and error before finding a shoe you love is a just part of being a beginner. Not to mention the stiff learning curve of care and technique it takes!
But it's worth it!!
Some random experiences I've had:
Dances en pointe. Realizes I forgot to tape my feet beforehand. Realizes that while dancing because of the blood soaking through my shoes.
My 2nd pair of pointe shoes died in only 2 months, and I need to break in and get used to new ones before the show in 3 weeks!! I hope the new brand works better for me than my old ones did. . !
#GettingNewShoes #TrialAndError #FEAR
Today in class I was the only person failing horribly at the combination. Why is this so hard?? And why does my teacher keep telling me to "roll up" when I think I'm doing that? And why am I falling over so much? The bottoms of these things are ROUND!
#Frustration #NewbieInAClassOfHigherLevels #WaddlingInPointeShoes
YES! I did my first pirouette en pointe today!! It was scary going up onto the shoe, but in some ways it was easier to balance. I felt like I was floating!
My teacher said we sounded like we were dancing in clogs. Well, I don't really know how to fix that yet, sooo...
I just realized today how pretty simple arabesques are in pointe shoes. Ahh... so lovely!
For all new pointe beginners, I have a few words of advice.
"Never give up. Never give up. Never give up."
You might feel like you're falling over, but you'll get your balance. You might feel like the worst in the class, but with hard work and perseverance that WILL change! A butterfly starts out as a caterpillar. An oak tree starts out as an acorn. A flower starts out as a seed. A beautiful ballerina starts out clumsy! ( I know, I know; but it's true! )
A more specific word:
Be picky when you're choosing pointe shoes. Save yourself the pain. Better to appear bossy than to break an ankle. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your teacher, your fitter, and your friends. Research at the library!
The Ballet Companion by Eliza Gaynor Minden for ALL dancers. This book is an amazing, all-encompassing book of dance, with technique tips, historical information, and even how to do your stage make-up correctly, all in a friendly and organized format. I felt so proud when I started recognizing names on the ballet posters in my studio!
The Pointe Book for all pointe dancers. This book has literally EVERYTHING you need to know about pointe, from injuries to breaking in your shoes to what shoes you should get and all about the companies that make them!
Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet by Gail Grant for all beginner-intermediate dancers. Like its name implies, it's a dictionary of—I'm convinced—every single ballet vocabulary word in the WORLD, what they mean literally, how to do them, and how to pronounce them!
The Perfect Pointe Book and Training Turnout by Lisa Howell. Mrs. Howell is ballet physiotherapist who lives in Australia. A former dancer herself, she shares a variety information in both her books on the subject of improving your dancing. In The Perfect Pointe Book, she provides a complete curriculum for strengthening and stretching your feet and body for maximum control and beauty en pointe. In her second book, Training Turnout, she shares INVALUABLE stretches and exercises to improve your turnout range without hurting your hips. From 100º turnout at first, I gained 60 full degrees of range in just a few weeks!! You can visit her amazing ballet blog at https://www.theballetblog.com.
Pointe shoes I've had in order:
- Bloch European Balance
- Suffolk Stellar
- Grishko 2007 Allure (not worn yet)
The Bloch Euro Balance are really good shoes for beginners, and some professionals still dance in them! They have a medium shank on the softer side; a sturdy, supportive box; and even foam cushioning in the tip. They are quite easy to balance in and higher heels so they won't pop off. They come with an elastic drawstring. One drawback to these shoes is that they're very clunky looking, with their wide platform.
I did not have good luck with the Suffolk Stellar. This shoe features a medium shank, higher wings (the supports on the sides of the shoe), and a delicate sugar pink silk casing. However, in time I discovered the vamp was not high enough for my difficult feet, which were kind of spilling out and making them look bad. I also went through this shank in 2 months, which is very fast!
Although too weak for me, the shank "sets you up" on the box very nicely, promoting correct alignment and stability.
I can't say anything about the Grishkos yet except for what they look like: they have a higher vamp, a more rose pink color, a medium-firm and pre-arched shank, and come with a twine drawstring—not elastic. Their platforms are very romantic, which means very tiny!
That's all I got for now!!