My pointe shoes are healing.
I take them out of their bag (pink mesh, tied with a ribbon), feeling the cool satin, and move the ribbons to each side of the shoe, smoothing them out to make sure they’re not twisted. I adjust the seam of my tights so it doesn’t cut into my toes, tucking down the ends that are sticking up.
I slip my toe pads on, ensuring my tights don’t bunch as I wiggle my toes into place, then I line up my shoes. Am I putting them on the correct feet? I always mean to rotate them but it hasn’t worked as planned.
I use both hands to slip the first shoe around my toes, pointing my foot into the box and wiggling into place, running my thumbs along the inside edge, guiding the rest of my foot in until I slip the back over my heel. I press the toe into the floor, allowing my foot to fill the space then set my foot flat, adjust the drawstring, tie it with a bow, and tuck it in. Next, I reach for my ribbons and cross them at the top of my foot once, then around my ankle, and tie a small bow at the inside of my ankle. I tuck that bow in too.
I repeat on the other side.
Shoes on, I rise to my toes, shifting weight from one foot to the other to ensure they’re on comfortably. If not, I make adjustments. Back to step one and the seam of my tights if I have to.
I enjoy the feel of them on my feet. It’s a feeling of achievement. I worked hard for this.
The pressure in the toes. The ache at the end of the night. An ache of hard work done. It distracts from everything else; it’s just me and my pointe shoes.
I’m badass in my pointe shoes. I’m not doing 32 fouettés (or even one) and I’m not doing the rose adagio. But I’m doing pirouettes on my toes and, let’s be honest, that’s fabulous.
Badass, but not fearless. I know what can happen if I lose concentration. That is why they have my focus and attention. And my day to that moment no longer matters.
I’m not alone when I’m wearing my pointe shoes. They combine years of hard work. An amalgamation of past mes. They represent goals set, goals achieved, and the hard work maintaining my condition. Taking responsibility for my progress, trusting that I can rise to the challenge but also trusting myself to know where my limit is.
Some days I think I’m too emotionally exhausted but it’s those days my pointe shoes do their best work. When they remind me of the achievements I’ve made. Of the grit and determination I have. When they reset my focus away from what was upsetting me.
They hold me accountable. They hold me in the moment. I have to focus on every move, every transition. I have to know when my body is at its limit and it’s time to take them off.
They keep me honest.
I’m proud of what I can do in my pointe shoes.
The hard work started before I’d even touched a pair. I put in the hours, I put in the hard work, I showed my dedication week-in week-out before I got the tap on the shoulder to join a dedicated beginner pointe class. Then the hard work continued.
When I first put them on in the studio, I clutched the barre for dear life. It felt like I would never leave. But I had patient teachers who guided me and one day I left the barre to dance in the centre. I wish my early pointe teachers could see me now!
The first time I saw myself pirouette en pointe in the mirror I was buzzing. Look at what my body can do! It’s not as toned as it used to be, it’s not as fit as it used to be but it can turn en pointe and that’s amazing.
My pointe journey didn’t start the day I put on pointe shoes, it started the day I put on flats. And every time I slip my feet into the satin and lace my ribbons is a continuum of every day that lead me to that moment.
They keep me connected. They keep me mindful. And they remind me that I am capable.
Reflections on 10 years of adult ballet – Bethany Keats
[…] My first pointe show fitting was a hot mess. I’ve written about it previously. And the first time I wore them in class I felt like I’d never be able to stop clinging to the barre. My goal was to pirouette en pointe and I thought it would take me ten years. It didn’t. One day, a few years later, I just prepared and did it. There was no fanfare. Nothing to stress and panic about. I just felt it was time and smashed one out. My pointe shoes now represent personal growth and I relish in them physically and mentally. […]
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