recent comments
Powered by Squarespace
« Wookie/Tubi..................Wookie in the garden! | Main | I believed I could Fly »

So you wanna do Pointe Work?

Last week a group of VERY excited girls tried on pointes shoes to select their sizes. The pointe shoes supplier came armed with a huge selection of shoes and it took a looong time to fit them all. I knew they will be VERY excited to get their new shoes and so I made a trip all the way across town to collect the new shoes.

True enough, yesterday a bunch of VERY excited girls clutching the money for the shoes came trouping upstairs to the studio. But this is only the beginning of the journey of love/hate relationship with their pointe shoes. 60135-427000-thumbnail.jpg
Happy faces
Look how happy they are with their new shoes in this picture. Mmmmmmm, I wonder if the same fresh VERY excited feeling will still be around 3 months down the line.

Many years ago, when I did pointe-work, we did not have fitters coming to the school to fit us with the 'perfect shoes'. We had to make our way to a shop in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman to get them. And they are very limited with sizes. If you can't fit into any shoes they have available, you may have to wait for months before another shipment comes. So, if one can't wait, one will just have to buy a pair probably a few sizes too big and stuff cotton into it. Invariably, cotton absorbs moisture and bunches up and one ends up with a pair that's practically falling off our feet. Ill-fitting shoes don't only feel uncomfortable. They cause a lot of pain, blisters and even permanent damage to feet sometimes. But we never cared about all those problems. We just wanted to dance. Mum didn't know any better. After all, most of our shoes are a size or two bigger so that we 'grow' into them.

Later, I discovered Animal Wool -  Lamb's Wool, to be exact. They lasts much longer than cotton, washable and when it's dry, one just 'tease' them a little and they fluff up again. They were used as extra padding for those blister-proned areas. A friend of mine in college used to come from farm country, Devon or something like that. She used to just go to the fences and pluck them off the fence. Sheep sometimes graze near fences and some of their wool gets caught in fences.

In fact I've not heard of toepads till years later when I am already a teacher. Yupz, girls these days have it easy. They have specially manufactured toepads to make pointe work easier and less painful. 60135-427003-thumbnail.jpg
The Infamous Ouch Pouch
Pictured here is Bee Hong putting on her stupendous toepad called Ouch Pouch. It's more like, if you put on the Pouch, there will be no Ouch. I discovered Ouch Pouch several years ago while I was in Melbourne. In those days, it was not available here, so I bought a pair of Cui Xin. She loved it. To put it plainly, the Ouch Pouch costs more than the pair of pointe shoes! Moon Moon said this, " Teacher, look like bra material lar."

"Ya hor. Hey, don't you go and cut up your mum's bra to make your own Ouch Pouch! They may look similar but I doubt it" I suddenly had this vision of Moon2's mum taking out her bra from the cupboard and discovered 2 holes in them!

Most people will go for the more affordable toepads which comes up to 10% the cost of Ouch Pouch. But my thought will be if one can afford it, why not...............

Pointe work is attempted only after at least 5-7 years of training. The foot and ankle has to be strong enough to sustain the amount of strain. New pointe shoes cannot be worn just like that. A lot of preparations must be made for the shoes. The ribbons which acts as extra support for the feet and ankles must be sewn on. On the very 1st pointe work lesson, the stiff hard shoes must be 'broken' into a little. It has to be moulded to individual feet. Then the training begins.

A dancer's feet is one of the ugliest specimens. After hours of hard work on pointe, skin gets rubbed and blisters form. Sometimes, blisters break or bleed. When they hardly have time to heal, it's time for yet another class. A teacher in college used to make this comment, "Are your toes bleeding? Well, don't tell me. I don't want to know. Let's do that exercise AGAIN!"

Note those blister scars of years ago
I still have scars from pointe work and I have not been working en pointe for at least 15 years!  So why do dancers want to do pointe work?  Why do they subject themselves through such torture? Perhaps the answer is because dancers are extraordinary people. They do not see things the way most people do. It does not matter if those feet look hideous in sandals or flip flops. All that matters are those intricate things they performed en pointe, the fact that they have mastered it. And that they look absolutely gorgeous doing it.

This post should technically be in the DanceArt Blog but I cannot handle the picture uploading there *sigh* 

Reader Comments (14)

I left my pointe shoes at home...=(
I've been dancing in the pool..=)
August 14, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterpL
left intentionally or unintentionally??? :p
August 15, 2006 | Registered CommenterKaty
unintentionally lar....

August 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterpL
Oh... I think pointe work is so beautiful :)
August 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAddy
do your feet bleed and blister?
November 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterhey
Yes, that's the brutally honest answer. They do bleed and blister.
November 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterK
*sob* This made me tear a little...

I've been doing a lot of contemporary lately, just to substitute the absence of ballet and it's a pretty good substitute, almost similar to ballet but the one thing it lacks and will never be able to replace is pointe work... this post made me remember what is was like, to be en pointe... terribly tough and painful, which makes it all the more rewarding... :)

*insert terminator voice* I'll be back!
December 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
"Terminator" - I am NOT holding my breath :p
December 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKaty
y do u have to have to much training to up && do pointe? i want to do it soo bad but everybody keeps telling me if i dont get the required years for ballet i'll break my neck. i know its hard but i think that i can really do it! i just dont know much about how to get the shoes fitted and about the ouch pouches and things. help me out? give me all info needed. do u think i can try pointe.? help!
February 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterluvtodance!
Like I said, you need to strengthen your feet and ankles. The best person to let you know if you are ready or not is your teacher. He/she will also be able to tell you about pointe shoes fitting and where to get them etc. All the best.
February 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaty
I'm a lad and I "do ballet". I thought that pointe looks easy and now I'm on pointe I soooo regret saying that!! It is realy realy hard and very painfull!!
February 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam
Way to go, Sam! It's great that you actually make it a point to try pointe (excuse the pun!) I have had male students who also tried pointe work. When you have, it gives you an insight into how different it can be. And when you do pas de deux, you will be able to understand your partner better. It will also help you, if you eventually want to teach. You can then tell your girls you've 'been there, done that'.
February 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaty
You know, if Sam ever gets the chance to dance in Malakhov's version of Cinderella, the two stepsisters are played by men. And yes, on pointe!

I love pointe work because it is part of acting. An illusion of lightness and weightlessness, when actually it is a hell lot of work and pain. Speaking about permanent damage due to ill-fitting pointe shoes, I have bunions! Maybe it is good for Balanchine (since he liked the illusion of winged feet) but it hurts nowadays when I wear my non-dancing shoes. *sigh* Oh well, what to do, oddly sized and shaped feet will suffer in this part of the world where we do not have abundant choices.
February 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWanZ
Your blog content is specifically what I necessary, I like your blogging site, I sincerely hope your blog site might be a rapid enhance in customers, I will help you market your blog page and start looking forward for your webpage constantly updated and turn out to be alot more to the even more rich and colorful. by <a href=""> Supra TK Society</a>.
July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSupra TK Society

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.