Yesterday I went up to Edinburgh to buy a new pair of pointe shoes.
I have a complicated relationship with pointe work (the kind of ballet where you dance on the tips of your toes, in specially-designed blocked shoes). As a young ballet dancer I yearned for the chance to start pointe work, it was the epitome of what real dancing was, as far as I was concerned, and then, finally the day came. I was about fifteen, I think, and I reached a grade where pointe work was required for the exam, so with permission granted by my teacher, Barbara, I went off to get my very own pair of shoes.
They were beautiful, of course, and I loved them. I took them home, sewed on ribbons and elastic, darned the tips (because Barbara insisted that if we wanted to dance en pointe, we had to be willing to do the darning too), and then started to learn to dance in them.
And there ended the love. Beginning pointe work is not fun, folks. It is painful.
My memory is that it gets better, but of course, after a ten year break, I’ve got to start all over again. My feet are bigger now, so the old broken-in shoes are no good. So new shoes (Bloch Serenade), new ribbons, new elastic, a bruised finger from darning, and they’re all done. Except for breaking them in, and working on breaking my feet in again, I suppose.
In summary: prepared for pain.