Twenty years ago I took my first ballet lesson. I do not remember much apart from wearing a pink leotard, being in the middle at the Barre and not really taking any of the terms in. We had a piano player, a teacher and her assistant. I remember that lessons took place around 11am on a Saturday morning and I remember sitting crossed legged on the floor trying to make my head touch my knees. I definitely remember that I wanted a pair of Pointe Shoes. And then I remember telling my parents that I wanted to quit when the word ‘exam’ was mentioned.
As mentioned in many previous posts the Pointe Shoe obsession did not end there. I cannot pinpoint exactly what it is about these things that causes so much admiration. Apart from they are so beautiful, ballerinas who dance in them are so beautiful and weightless, and oh do they make it look so easy.
Then fast forward to October 2012, we are told we can go and buy Pointe Shoes.
Now, I have a little confession to make. The above shoes are not my first pair. Last year, in utter desperation for ballet lessons when The Wife could not find any, a pair where ordered off the Internet. Now, this is very bad. And I knew at the time it was very bad. I did a lot of research on sizing, shoe types, brands, boxes, vamps and so on, and ordered a pair. And hell I could do nothing in them. They seemed to fit ‘alright’, but then having being professionally fitted since, I certainly do not advise anybody doing this. In actual fact I ended up with the same style and width shoe but half a size smaller than the illegal pair from last year. Half a size may not sound a lot, but it’s the difference between fitting properly and safely, not only to avoid self-inflicted injuries, but also to be able to dance properly.
Get fitted by a professional, no matter how badly you want a pair.
Anyway, after that slap on the wrist and having several Pointe lessons over this month, I can happily say that this dream has come true. And it has not quenched the obsession either. I still stalk pictures on numerous ballet Tumblr sites and saves the ones to file that are the best. It’s mostly for inspiration, and certainly drives me to be a better dancer. I also have discovered a new found respect for ballet dancers…it takes so much strength and effort to just be able to jump up onto these things, never mind being able to jump onto these things with poise, seemlessly with grace. If I can ever look like they do while en Pointe, I will be a very happy girl.
The first few lessons have been at the Barre. Lots of Pliés, Relevés and Echappés (ouch). And now we have moved into the centre. Goodbye Barre, hello Bolshoi Ballet…