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On Back to the Barre: New shoes

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.

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In summary: prepared for pain.

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This entry was published on December 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm. It’s filed under Back to the Barre and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “On Back to the Barre: New shoes

  1. What does darning mean?

    • ellidhcook on said:

      Darning is sewing (the third photo is of one of the shoes half darned).
      You sew lots of little stitches across the platform (and sometimes the pleats) of your pointe shoes, to help grip a little better when dancing on shiny floors, and to soak up the rosin a wee bit better. I know that one can buy patches of crochet or suede to stick onto the platfoms instead of darning, these days, but darning is a little more reliable, and traditional (and I’m nothing if not traditional!)
      xxx

  2. Ballet keeps on coming up in my world all the time in the last couple of weeks… :] xx

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