The pointe shoe strangler

I think I may have solved the mystery of the inflexible pointe shoe. Well, I’m still not sure that the Rubin is The Shoe, but…

You see, I’m kind of an organic, go-with-the-flow kinda girl. Those dramatic scenes in ballet movies (think Center Stage, Black Swan, yadda yadda) of the girls going through lengthy pointe shoe breaking-in processes always seemed a bit contrived to me. I mean, sure, when you go through shoes that fast then you do need to have that process. But for little ol’ me, a recreational dancer with some delusions, I was all on board with the concept that the best way to break in a pair of pointe shoes is simply to wear them. Dance in them. Then they will conform to you naturally (see: organic, go-with-the-flow).

Yeah, but as I noted in that prior post, I was three months in on those shoes and still not getting over on the box (especially on the left), the shank was still as pliable as particle board (which they kind of are, but…), and I wasn’t getting that sense of comfort I remembered having en pointe way back in the day. And by comfort I mean, you know, comfortable for pointe shoes.

So today (while I was at work and clearly not focusing on work), I was feeling a little feisty. I was annoyed with the shoes not doing what I wanted. So I took one in two hands and gave it some serious flexing along the shank. Not the delicate little breaking in Lisa Howell recommends (see below). I’d already tried that. No. This was the, “Dear shoe: You are royally pissing me off and you WILL comply with my wishes.” Repeated the process on the other shoe. Really didn’t have any faith that it would do a darned thing, but at least it made me feel better.

So later in the day, pointe class. The test of my pointe shoe strangulation. Lo and behold. I got up and over. I felt more stable. I didn’t feel like I was fighting my shoes quite so much.

Of course, this was my first pointe class in nearly three weeks. So my legs were a little wobbly. Not to mention that my technique isn’t up to par quite yet. But for feeling a bit like a newborn colt, I was quite happy with how my shoes were behaving. Hoorah!

As an added bonus? There were a few things I actually felt good about. Like our 2 piqué turns, 2 soutenu turns, one piqué turn, one soutenu turn, chainés, pose across the floor combo. Even got a compliment from the teacher on that one. I didn’t think about it too hard, just did it. It felt great.

So, in answer to the question, “Shoe or you?” Might have just been me… not my feet, but me being too timid to take matters into my own hands.

Stay tuned to our next mystery in the series: Why do I let pirouettes freak me out?


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