Another Step On Pointe

I am feeling a little better and haven’t overeaten for a week. My weight was back at 151 lb. this morning, so the ‘fall’ wasn’t too bad. I am trying to figure out how to eat for the moment. We’ll see. Gaining weight over 155 lb. has been unbearable and I can’t go back there.

But on to better news: Pointe! My official pointe ‘class’ is on Wednesday, 30 minutes following Franca’s regular class. The other students all have different levels of experience, so there is always the option of staying at the barre or doing something more simple. Franca gave me special exercises. I had bent the shank where my arch is, cut the satin off the tip and softened the top of the vamp a little before the first class. The padding I wore were the Ouch Pouch Pro Pads.

In that first class (all facing the barre) I had to step up, then roll up to pointe in sixth, plié on pointe and generally work through the feet and shoes. Then came relevés in first, second and fifth. I have rather stiff ankles and feet that always want to sickle, so I was trying very hard to have good alignment. I wasn’t fully on the box except in fifth. The shank also didn’t really bend to touch my arch, it only bent a little. While my feet looked sickled when I worked in turnout, I didn’t sickle in my ankles or twist in the shoe. Franca said it was just the shape of my feet. They look like that on demi-pointe, too. She also said that while it didn’t look very good, it would not stop me from learning pointe. Of course I wanted perfection, so I was frustrated. But to be honest, it all went much better than I had feared. There was little pain except a general pressure. No blisters. The right bunionette and left big toe hurt more than the rest. And I felt some pain around the achilles tendon. I was a little relieved and yet quite frustrated after the class.

On Saturday, I put the shoes on for five minutes after class with Belinda and did some of the same exercises. I did the same on Sunday when I was practicing by myself at AS. On Monday, I spoke to Melina before class. She had worn Gamba 93s before and she told me that they had a plastic shank that didn’t bend the way a cardboard one would. So I carefully peeled off the insole and found a thick black plastic shank. So this was the reason the shank wouldn’t conform to my arch. I cut a piece off the plastic so that the sole would bend where it had to. I think that counts as 3/4-ing the shank. It is not a thing that is recommended for beginners, but no amount of bending would soften that plastic. I wore the shoes on Tuesday for five minutes after Mandy’s class.

The second ‘pointe class’ went much better. Franca had me do échappé. You should have seen my face when I arrived in second position on pointe for the first time. I was so astonished that this step (which I had seen a thousand times and which seemed familiar to me, but which I always feared I wouldn’t be able to do) actually worked. I wasn’t entirely on the box in second (or in first for that matter), but it was better than last week. After the échappés, I had to do picked-up pas de bourrée, which meant standing on one foot and rolling down. I could do it! Standing on one leg was hard. You really have to pull up and push down and hold your ankle. And then came some bourrées in the end. I still lack strength and stability and I was very sore for days after. But that class gave me hope. I can do things. I can make progress (and quite fast because I have good basic technique).

On the weekend, I bought superglue and put some on the wing of the right shoe to harden the part over my bunionette, and some in the tips of the boxes, because I had felt the floor a little and didn’t want them to soften already. I practiced again for a few minutes on Sunday and yesterday. I noticed that I curl my toes instead of elongating them, especially when I try to point my foot to the maximum. That is bad! It makes me unstable on pointe and means I rely on the shoe while I curl. I’m working on it.

Pointe has been weird for me so far. I don’t like doing it because it is difficult, quite painful, and I don’t feel the joy I normally get from ballet, the ‘moving to music’-delight. I go back and forth between frustration with my not-ideal feet and joy when I find that I make progress. I want perfection and fear utter failure. And I am scared of my shoes dying or breaking in wrong. The satin has some wrinkles and in some positions, the shoe seems too wide. But the box is ok, I feel no great pain on pointe. A smaller size or width in that shoe wouldn’t work. We’ll see. I will definitely have another fitting for my next pair.

About annalienor

Lover of beauty, adult ballet student, deliberate creator wannabe.
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