Pointes shoes, the ultimate symbol and cliché of classical ballet and reserved for female ballerinas, is often a fascinating technique and savoir-faire. Not only is the technique of going on pointe extremely painful and difficult, choosing the right pointe shoes, learning this technique correctly, and even preparing the pointe shoes in a way that’s appropriate to each dancer is highly important.
Indeed, each ballerina prepares her shoes a little differently, there’s no perfect way to do it, each dancer has to take years of experience to figure out what sewing methods/ how to “break” the shoes make her feet look the best. Fascinating isn’t it?
Even thought male dancers won’t ever go on pointe in a performance (there are exceptions, I think of the Trocadero ballet, and several roles like the stepmother in Nureyev’s Cinderella, in some contemporary pieces, and others), some of Chun’s teacher suggested that he learns a bit of the pointe work to help with his foot work and his jumps.
Doing some simple pointe work exercises seriously actually helped. However, one must be very careful. Some male dancers would go crazy with their pointe shoes on, having fun and doing all kinds of female steps, which could easily lead to injury, for we don’t have the proper strength in the ankles for the pointe work that the girls have.
Chun just bought another pair of pointe shoes recently, he has to learn to “break” them and to sew them properly, which is so much work too.
Respect to all the female dancers who have to keep doing this over and over again, using up to 4 pairs of pointe shoes in one Swan Lake performance!