My first pair of pointe shoes (at 32 yrs!)

In January, I took advantage of a wonderfully snowy afternoon to climb Saint-Hubert and try on some pointe shoes for the very first time.

My first pair of pointe shoes (at 32 yrs!)

At the beginning of January, one of my ballet profs evaluated me to go on pointe. When I started ballet again at 30 years old, the idea of going on pointe seemed frankly silly. I was in pretty bad shape, I have a million health things that have gone wrong, and the gods have blessed me with feet that honestly are just not considered great for pointe work.

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As my prof was carefully examining my ankles and feet, I found out that despite all of that, I actually was really hoping to pass.

It is thought that dancing on pointe for an entire ballet can be traced to Marie Sophie Taglioni, who when dancing La Sylphide at the Paris Opéra in 1832 reinforced her usual soft dancing shoes with enough darning that it gave her the appearance of floating across the stage. (Wikipédia)

So when I did pass, I felt pretty triumphant. All the work I put into this dance practice was going to let me do something that, not too long ago, I really didn't think would be possible. A good example of the kinds of mental limits that we put on ourselves.

A little celebration from the characters in Ghibli's My Neighbour Totoro (となりのトトロ, 1988)

A week and a few days later, I took advantage of a wonderfully snowy afternoon to climb Saint-Hubert and try on some pointe shoes for the very first time.

The pointe fitter was very positive when I told her where I was dancing and that I've never been on pointe before. Very appreciated because I was nervous!

The fitting was really cool. The pointe fitter took all of three seconds to look at my bare feet (no hyperbole — just enough time for her to dryly remark I have inexistant arches 😭) and brought from the back of the store two different boxes. The first pointe shoe I tried was on my right foot. She asked me to stand in first position and demi-plié. The length of the shoe was just right, but when I was putting a little bit of weight on it, I noticed that my first and second toes were definitely overlapping. She gave me the exact same shoe but in a wider width, and this time she liked my demi-plié better. She then gave me the second shoe of that pair for my left foot, and invited me to stand at the barre in from of the window, feet in sixth position (parallel).

With both hands on the barre, feet in parallel, I bent both my knees (like in a demi-plié, but legs glued). I rolled forward my right foot and then my left, and then stretched both my legs — and there we go. I was floating! I very much liked the sensation of being taller! I took a few small steps, keeping one hand on the barre for balance. I was really expecting more pain, but the compression was really comparable to high-performance ski boots, but just around the metatarsals of the foot. We'll see how a proper pointe class goes, but everything went really well during the fitting.

I don't have the best feet for ballet, so I was really expecting the fitting to take way longer (a little like the scene at Ollivander's in the first Potter film). But the pointe fitter was really happy with how these looked when I stood on pointe in them, and as the high vamp and square box will protect my ankles from any lateral weirdness, I was feeling confident moving around. They are Bloch Serenades, which are also very hard shoes. My feet are (a lot) stronger than they are flexible, so we are going to see how moving in them goes over time!

Actually succeeding at being approved for pointe and going on pointe for the first time (at 32 years old — pretty much "geriatric" by ballet standards!) is a small personal victory that I'm never going to forget. I still remember being very very young and asking my mother how to learn how to dance on the tips of my tippy toes, and my complete fascination when my mom told me that the dancers wore specialized shoes to do it. I discovered during my fitting that there was definitely a small part of me that never stopped dreaming.

I have a lot of curiosity to see how pointe classes are going to go. One of my biggest priorities with dance is to not injure myself, so as always, we're going to advance slowly under the supervision of my ballet profs. Getting this far is already a personal victory!

My Bloch Serenades in 6D (I know, I have giant hobbit feet!) before I've sown the ribbons on. 

Thanks for reading all this way. I know that ballet is a pretty niche interest. Take very good care of yourselves, and until next time!

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