December 13, 2010

1000 Minutes On Pointe!

Just did the math: since starting pointe this August, I have had 17 x 60 min classes, totaling about 1000 minutes spent on pointe. Yay! And I´ve learned a thing or two:

  • Pointe shoes need to be professionally fitted. I bought mine 10 years ago without supervision. I did not know at the time that the shanks are too long, which is why there´s way too much bagginess at the heel. Not pretty. Also, the box of the right foot is too narrow, twisting the shank away from underneath the foot. It´s not that they are impossible to dance with, but why make things any harder? (New pointe shoes are already on my Christmas wish-list.)
  • Breaking in pointe shoes is serious business. I used the technique described by Lisa Howell, but my teacher took steps a little further and showed me how to actually break the shank at its 3/4 length (under the heel). This works for my feet. Other feet might need something else.
  • Pointe shoes are not Uggs. You can pad and tape as much as you like, but discomfort and pain are inevitable. Even when shoes have been properly fitted. But you will get used to it. I use old-fashioned lamb´s wool, though many prefer gel-tips and Ouch Pouches. Also, special blister band-aid helps.
  • Pointe shoes are not clogs either. You still need to articulate your feet, be able to roll through demi-pointe and go over the box.
  • Going over the box (without falling over) is a big deal. Also, you cannot sit in your shoes, but must pull up at all times.
  • You can´t fake pointe technique. No way. When knees need be stretched, they really have to be. Do not go up on pointe with lax knees. Also, heels must be forwarded at all times. Maintaining proper turn-out on pointe is even more crucial than it is in soft shoes.
  • Single leg relevés with passé retirés are fun to do in soft shoes. With pointe shoes, and up on full relevé? Not so much.. But I´m getting there, albeit very slowly. 
  • Pointe is not for sissies. In fact is the most difficult physical activity I´ve ever attempted to do. This includes slacklining (a form of tightrope walking), which I did way back in college. Not kidding!

    Here´s an inspirational clip from Don Quichotte, with danseuse étoile Dorothee Gilbert of Paris Opera Ballet. She is absolutely amazing!


    1. Read somewhere that tightrope, (and so maybe slack rope too?) is a really good precursor to pointe due to all the balance and ankle strengthening involved. What do you think, did your previous slack roping help?

    2. Hey, never thought of that! Although I don´t think it made any difference regarding my pointe technique, there are just too many years in between.. Nevertheless, I do have a bit of a knack for balancing - and walking on a droopy line certainly helps with your sense of balance!

      Thanks for your insightful comment :)

    3. Thank you Johanna for liking my blog. I like your blog very much. I cover things more from a ballet fan / amateur ballet class taker point of view. But I can see from your blog that you are the real deal. So, I read every post that you make.

    4. Thanks David for your kind compliment!

      But as far as real deals go.. I´m just another amateur ballet dancer, and very happy at that. That doesn´t mean I (or others like us) don´t take The Ballet seriously and work hard to improve!

      I´m really glad you like my blog!


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