Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Turning Pointe

Tonight was a turning pointe for me. No, that's not a typo. Well, it's more a pun than a typo.

I've done ballet since I was five years old. I am not a ballerina. I never have been, though it may have been my dream. Short, stocky legs and inflexible ligaments, as well as too many outside interests prevented serious pursuit. Not to mention I'd already injured by back by the age of 15, and done serious damage to my hip by the age of 20. A career on the stage was not in my future. But like the guys who play baseball well into their 50s and 60s for the mere enjoyment and camaraderie, I still dance.

I got my first pair of pointe shoes when I was in 7th grade. Twenty-seven years ago, for those of you counting at home. Disclaimer...it was 1989, so don't hate on the hair.

 Of course, we can comment that I was standing like this because I was en pointe, and no one took a picture of my feet. I had the starter pointe shoes, that had the suede piece that went all the way over the toe. They were Capezios. I don't know if they make them like that any more.

I had narrow feet as a teenager, and wore the Capezio Niccolini's for years. I saved a pair, and when I was decorating the nursery for my daughter, I decided to put them in her room. Yes, I decorated my baby's room with smelly old dirty shoes.

I danced my first year in college and then took a decade off from ballet. But it was my first love, and it called me back. Somehow, for some reason, after having two kids, I decided to give pointe another whirl. I bought new shoes (Suffolks) and hated them. They were agony. I'd been fitted and that's what was recommended, but those were not the shoes for my feet. Then, in 2011, I was asked to dance the Sugar Plum Fairy in my studio's Christmas show. I knew I couldn't do it with those shoes, and got a pair of Gaynor Mindens. They felt like heaven on my feet.

I was thirty-six years old the night I danced the Sugar Plum Fairy. Do I watch the video and cringe a little? Sure. In my head, I dance like a prima ballerina. In reality, my extension is not great, my knees aren't always straight and tight, and I certainly don't have the stamina I need. But, I did it.

I don't have a ballerina's body. But I have pretty feet. I'll take that.

In 2013, I was lucky enough to partake in a photo shoot with a local photographer, William LeBlanc. He was trying out a new technique and wanted dancers for it. I'm not a model, and I was unfortunately going through a blunt bang stage, but I've never felt so pretty or graceful.
Copyright William LeBlanc Studio. 2013.

 He did these photos of us individually. Normally I hate myself in profile, but he did such a great job.

Copyright William LeBlanc Studio, 2013.

Every so often, someone gets me actually dancing.

Tonight, it was with a tinge of bittersweetness that I said good-bye to those pointe shoes. Gaynor Mindens are meant to last, and I've gotten 4 1/2 years out of them. They've served me well.
And with anticipation and sadness, I started sewing the ribbons and elastics on what will most likely be my last pair of pointe shoes. If these last as long, I'll be about 45 the next time I'm in the market for a new pair. If the arthritis in my toes has it's way, I won't be getting a new pair.

If I sew another pair of pointe shoes, it will be for my daughter. Never again for me.

And that will be okay. For tonight, I danced. I lept and turned and marveled in the beauty of my shoes. The magic that they hold that for just a few moments each week let me feel beautiful and special. These shoes hold a gift, and I'm glad to be able to unwrap a little each week.


  1. Very interesting story from your life! I think that it is actually a dream o each girl to be a beautiful ballerina! It was really interesting to read here about your experience! Your pointes are gorgeous!