To change one’s mind is to grow – I heard that once, and hope that to “grow” implies to change towards the better…not talking about negative growth, or worse, some kind of exponential decay…
I consider myself a complicated person, and what makes me tick is complex. Things such as following tradition blindly, because it’s “the next step”, because everyone’s doing it – or wants to do it – or “because it’s pretty” alone are not what makes me spring into action at my wise(r) (not-so)-old age. In fact, sometimes these things have the effect of creating resistance, as I instinctivly clutch to my individuality – sometimes to my detriment. I wonder, what would have motivated me? Perhaps If somone would have told me that it feels like you’re about to levitate, just take off in flight.
What on earth am I blabbing about? Well, um… I guess what I’m trying to say is… I sort of went en pointe.
I know, I know,, I said I was not going to go for it, and I sincerely meant it. I could have listed off any number of reasons why not: it was not even one of my goals when I started ballet; I’m not a pre-professional student; they’re so expensive (especially if I went to the dance store everyone recommends); it’s an ongoing commitment; it’s a pretty big risk considering I may not even be able to get up on pointe physically; my second toe is my longest, and tends to curl; if I fail (meaning not able to even go up) it’ll be so wasteful (both money and a sad pair of usused shoes sitting there); the list went on and on. I told myself that since it wasn’t like it had been a life long aspiration, I just wouldn’t bother with it… but I’m not gonna lie, the curiosity remained. (For the record, I was okayed for pointe by a teacher over a year ago, and I’ve been taking classes at the same frequency or more since then, so no worries about not being physically ready.)
But then, a friend let me try on her used shoes. The curiosity had been gnawing at me for some time by this point, and there was no way I was going to pass that chance up! So I slid them on, faced the wall, got into first position, and pushed up into a releve… and kept pushing… higher and higher. I didn’t get over the box, I don’t think, but that feeling of being suspended up higher than ever before as I pushed, I coudn’t stop thinking about it. I obsessed over the next time I would get to try her shoes, decided that next time – hopefully there would be a next time! – I would go for a balance. The first time I had been so excited that I forgot to even try for a balance.
Waiting was agony. I continued to replay the feeling in my head. My resolve to not go for my very own pair weakened. I realized that if I’m just going to be obsessing over it in my head without giving it a chance, well, that was just going to set me up to be miserable and bitter. Obsessing over whether I should or not and the implications was turning into one huge waste of energy! Something I struggle with immensely in life is moderation, and not knowing when to stop – it can manifest as either perfectionism or an addictive personality. It can be such a problem that I often err on the side of abstaining (‘perfect abstinence is easier than perfect moderation’, a quote that I wouldn’t say I live by, but refer to often – it’s saved my life. Without it, I would not have ever even found dance. I remember life before and it was a dark place of hopeless despair) to simplify things. But I have to understand that if I do this once, my head – or reality – will not implode. If I make this somewhat selfish decision (selfish because there are other financial obligations that we have, and I can’t put this one into the category of “needs”) my life will not turn into a rampant orgy of mindless consumerism. If I decide to go for this, it will be a true test of my commitment to…everything. (Don’t expect this to make sense to anyone, lol. Why can’t a purchase of shoes just be a purchase of shoes?! yeah, yeah…)
I figured out ways to tell myself that it will be ok. I’ll try to get cheap (relatively speaking) shoes, I’ll be extra careful during the fitting to make sure I’m getting a pair that I can tolerate (I realize trying them on and doing a few releves may not compare to using them regularly – or it might since I’m planning on sticking to barrework for now, and for a while) and not let the salesperson bully me into the wrong pair. I’ll take good care of them, let them dry out between uses. I’ll go at my own pace, not have any unrealistic goals or expectations. I did some research, much that I still remembered from back before I’d decided this wasn’t even an option.
Boyfriend Husband said ‘let’s go get you those shoes right now’! And by total coincidence I ran across this coupon I had to a dance store, so that about settled it. Once at the dance store, I headed over to the floor display of shoes, grabbed some that looked big enough, and was in the process of trying on the second option (the first was much too big, the profile was too high), when a salesperson came over. I explained that it was my first pair ever, and hopefully showed that I knew what I was doing by discussing things such as the profile of the shoe and width of the platform (research!). He brought out different pairs of shoes for me to try, and I went up to the little barre to try them out.
As it happened, the second shoe I tried (Freed, didn’t get the model) fit great, but since my feet are apparently almost a whole size in discrepancy from each other (of course something like this would happen, like it’s not bad enough my second toes are the longest) it would have meant buying two different pairs. I don’t know why my mismatched feet mattered so much with the Freeds compared to the other shoes I tried. All I know is that with these the larger pair fit my left foot perfectly, but was falling off my right, and the smaller pair fit my right, but I just could not get my left foot into it (it was a total cinderella stepsister moment). With the other pairs of shoes I tried, the difference between the feet felt more subtle,
Speaking of which, what else did I try? Immediately after the Freeds I tried this horrible pair with a narrowd platform that felt slippery like rollerskates (didn’t catch the name, just wanted them off!), then several models of Blochs (including the ones I ended up getting, the European Balance), and then, per my request, Gaynor-Mindens. When I first came to the decision of getting point shoes, I strongly considered GM’s because of the durability of the shank. However, I was skeptical from the beginning, because I know one of my favorite – and trusted – teachers is not in favor of beginners/first timers starting pointe in these shoes, and I’d heard that they sort of “prop” you up on pointe. Whether this is true or not I didn’t get to find out because as soon as attempted to put on the first pair my feet were like ‘No! These are not the right shoes!’, it was that much of a reaction. So the guy brought me a second, slightly bigger pair so I could at least walk over to the barre and try them. So I did, but they were still really uncomfortable and they hurt. I mean, i realize this is not supposed to be comfortable, but since I knew how the other pairs of shoes felt I didn’t want to settle for more pain than necessary. So I got the Blochs, since getting two different sized pairs of Freeds to match the mismatched feet would have been unthinkable…now I’m wishing I wrote down the model in case – if these Blochs are worn until shoe-death, of course – I do stick with this long enough to feel like I’ll use both shoes of each pair. And sometimes the dance store runs buy-one-get-one-half-off sales…far off in the future, of course.
To keep costs down (yes, we got the Ouch Pouch – an additional $20), I decided I would reuse the elastics from an old pair of ballet slippers. Now, as for the ribbons, I kind of ran into a problem. We hit up the fabric store and not only is nylon thread extremely hard to find, but all the ribbons were the wrong color. So much selection, so many colors and not one of them was close to ballet pink. Don’t want to use the “c” word here, but it seems really odd to me that the only way to get ribbons that color is through a dance store (or online, but still, through a dance brand). Well, what am I going to do? Use what I found!
Sewing the ribbons was not fun. I don’t care how much the irritating lady in the video chirped on about it being a rite of passage, and blah blah, I just wanted to get them ready to wear. Still, it took m over two hours to get them sewed.
So that was my story of how I came to find myself on pointe. For what it’s worth, I will say that I don’t regret this. Just doing slow eleves in parallel and first at the barre is amusing me for now. As this is all uncharted territory, I don’t have any goals yet; I know it may be a very long time, if ever, before I can actually dance in them. It’s weird, but I don’t see it as the ‘next step’ in ballet so much as a different, but related, hobby. I’m still very enthusiastic about dancing on flat shoes, while at the same time I’m enjoying the feeling of just pressing up onto pointe. And holding yourself up there, every muscle engaged – it’s such a workout! At a minimum, I’ll get stronger and my releves on flat slippers should improve.