Monday, April 29, 2013

Pointe Shoe FAQs and National Dance Week

Happy National Dane Week! It's actually National Dance Day, as well, I believe, although I didn't really plan for my post  to be on the same day. How are you all celebrating? My studio has a choreography competition, performance, and dance movie night, as well as  picture and essay contests going on for a while now. Where I come from, we just call it National Dance Month.
Dance has become sort of the infatuation of my generation. Whether it's break-dancing and "America's Best Dance Crew", "So You Think You Can Dance" (which has taken the commercial dance world by storm) or "Dancing with the Stars", people usually thinks it's pretty cool. Take Gangnam Style for instance. Sure it's an interesting song, but it would not have gotten nearly as much attention as it did, if not for the crazy dance moves featured in the official music video.
But one style of dance in particular that I feel has gotten more attention in the last century than almost any other time period in history, is ballet.
The picture speaks the truth, just ask Aria Alekzander. "It is really cool that we get to be part of something, manifested by man, that's like magic, like fairytale stuff." One of the things that adds to that ethereal aesthetic is the Pointe shoe.
 People are always asking me about my Pointe shoes.  I get younger girls at the studio who want to try them on, parents who want to know how expensive they are, and friends at school who are just amazed that it's possible for a human being to stand on their "tippy-toes." I though I would take some time to answer a few of your Pointe shoe questions. If you see anything that I forgot to mention, please leave me a comment, and I would be happy to address it.
So let's get started.

Q) How old do you have to be to go en Pointe?
A) This is not really something that has a definite answer. 11 seems to be a pretty common age, but it honestly depends on several things. How long you've been training, how strong you are, whether or no you have a medical condition that could prevent you from moving safely or correctly, even your height can be a factor. If you're unsure about your ability to safely and correctly execute steps en Pointe, talk to your dance instructor, or doctor. They will be able to give you much more personalized information.

Q) Does it hurt?
A) Sometimes. Blisters, corns, bunions, bruised toenails, and tendonitis can cause some pretty rough rehearsals. Luckily, most of these can be prevented by simply finding the right shoe and fit for your feet. This can be tricky, so ask your studio if they know of a reputable dancewear store that can help you.

Q) Is Pointe expensive?
A) Yes. My mom hates it. Every few weeks, we're back in the dance store to buy more shoes or tights, and it runs up quite the bill. Each pair of shoes is handmade, and you definitely pay for quality. I wear Suffolks, which tend to be on the more expensive side. They're also pretty soft, so they break-in and die faster. Most shoes are somewhere between $75-125.

Q) How long do Pointe shoes last? How do you know when they're dead?
A) This depends a lot on the strength of the shoe, the strength of your foot, and the number of hours you spend in your shoes. Most shoes will last for about 9-12 hours. Depending on how much you dance, this can be anywhere from 5 days to a month or more. When a shoe is dead, the shank will usually snap, making it harden to stay over the box, and then the box will go. Again, this depends a lot on what type of foot you have and how strong it is.Most of the time, though, you will be able to feel the floor through the platform of your shoe, which is extremely uncomfortable, and usually a sign that it's time to get new shoes.

I am completely out of time to write anything else today, but I will have more on Pointe shoes next weekend. If you have any questions that I haven't answered yet, please leave a comment and I will be happy to answer them next week!

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