December 10th is a nostalgic day for me…
28 years ago, a ten-year old girl had one of the biggest days of her little life. It was a day she dreamed of, fantasized about, and held in her heart. It was the day I was fitted for pointe shoes.
At my studio, Tennessee Festival Ballet, my teacher, Anna-Marie Holmes, with her hair in an elegant bun, navy blue long-sleeved leotard, with a matching navy skirt, announced to the class that we were ready for pointe shoes and to go to the upstairs “closet” to get our shoes. The “closet” was a huge storage room of pointe shoes and such. I had only caught glimpses of it before this day watching the company girls get their shoes and supplies. We weren’t allowed in there unless with the teacher. We all ran up the carpeted stairs and squealed and jumped excitedly for our turn to get our shiny satin pink pointe shoes. I can still smell the aroma from the closet, like freshly cut wood, and the squish of the thick carpet below my bare feet while I tried on pointe shoes. I remember my teacher showing us how to use the lamb’s wool to pad our feet and showing the mothers how to properly sew the ribbons and elastics on for each student.
To a ten-year old ballet dancer, this was the biggest day of her life and still is in so many ways. It was a rite of passage, a changing of the guard, a welcoming into the “club”. I could not wait to start dancing en pointe. A week later, with our pointe shoes tied on properly, we spent the last 10 minutes of class doing pointe strengthening exercises. I am sure it hurt and was harder than I expected but I really don’t remember any of that. I remember the feeling of height, the curve of my foot, and air whooshing around me with each releve. This is a memory I hold dear. I don’t know what became of those pointe shoes, maybe they have retired to some corner of my parents house or lost. I very much wish I still had them but at least I have the memory of them and what the day meant to that 10-year-old little girl.
December 10th is my pointe shoe “birthday”. Every year on this day I have always remembered what this day meant to me and still means to me. What a good memory it is.