by Lauren Bayes '18
For most of the day, I stay locked up in a pink bag with a bunch of little holes. Her mother says the holes are there to "let me breathe." That's nice because I do get very hot very quickly. I sit in the bag along with my best friends the toe pads and the toe spacers. We're all super close. Literally, when I'm worn we are all squished inside of me very closely. Life as a pair of pointe shoes is more complex than it may seem.
When I get taken out of the bag, she slides me onto her ugly feet and ties the ribbons around her thin, but muscular, ankles. I hear her talking with her friends. When the dance teacher tells them to put on their pointe shoes, it also means they have a quick break to sit down and talk. I get to hear a lot of the dance gossip. Then, when the teacher tells them to get to the barre, my girl will quickly run over to her usual spot on the barre closest to the mirror, so she can watch herself and perfect her technique.
While we are dancing at the barre, it's not too bad. When she stands flat-footed, I don't feel much at all. Although, when she rises up onto her toes, I feel a lot of hard pressure. I know pointe shoes are made to help dancers get all the way up on their toes, so I must do just that. It's worth it though because even though I am just a pair of pointe shoes and I won't last forever, there's a unique connection between a dancer and her pair of pointe shoes. A connection that isn't seen between two people. It's just felt between a dancer and the shoes.
When I'm worn I feel a love/hate relationship. She loves me, but she also hates me. I can make her feet look beautiful, but I make them feel awful. I give her feet blisters and I make them sore. I wouldn't normally be this cruel, but it's payback for all the pain she causes me! I am beaten and bent, needles pierce through me when the ribbons are sewn on, and she puts sticky glue inside of me, but I am ok with that because it makes my life last longer.
The hardest part about a pair of pointe shoe's life is that while it's exciting to be worn, danced in, and especially performed in, the more we are worn the quicker we die. Yes, pointe shoes die, and typically we die quickly. Well, we don't literally die, but once we become too soft to support our girl, we are never worn again. Sometimes we are hung up as room decor, and other times we are thrown in a bag and banished to the basement. Worst of all, sometimes even thrown away. My girl is considerate, but she's had many pairs of pointe shoes before me, however I think she'll keep me at least in a bag in the basement. That's much better than the garbage. I wish I could stay strong forever, but that's not possible for pointe shoes.
We start off our life strong, hard, and tough. And then as time goes on, we become soft and we aren't sturdy enough to support our girl while she rises all the way on her toes. If we become too soft, we can't help her stay lifted, and if she rolls over us, she rolls her ankle and that is never a good thing.
I have a theory on why pointe shoes go soft. We start out hard because we know this world is hard and we have to make a stand for ourselves. However, once we are bought and shaped to our girl, we know we now have a family. Even though it's a love/hate relationship, it's mostly love. The more we get to love our girl, the more love we feel and this is why we go soft. You'd think that because we feel the love we would be able to support our girl even better, but unfortunately that's not how it works.
I guess it's better to be loved and short lived than barely worn. Because even though you may live life longer being barely worn and less loved, your life will be cold, dark, and lonely. It's the contrast between living longer but not being loved, or being loved but having a shorter lifespan. It's definitely a weird contrast and quite an unfortunate one, but life works in mysterious ways.
I get jealous of her street shoes because they can last for many seasons. It's rare for a pair of pointe shoes to last for even half of a dance season. Some pairs don't even get the chance to be performed in. Luckily because it's competition season, I've been performed in twice so far! However, I can feel myself loving her more and more every time she wears me, so it's bittersweet.
With this being said, I know I must appreciate everyday. Everyday in the studio, everyday onstage, and even everyday stuffed inside of the pink bag with a bunch of little holes. Some days I actually spend the whole day inside of the bag, but it does feel nice to relax after a week of hard work, for me and her. Life as a pair of pointe shoes can be fun, but it's short, so we must live life everyday to the fullest extent. And even though there are consequences for love, it's worth it.