Category Archives: iPointe

Over at the dark side, no cookies here…

It’s been a few weeks since I jumped the Good Ship Freed and slunk over to the Dark Side of the pointe shoe world and invested in a pair of Gaynor Mindens.

My reasons for doing this were, essentially, singular. I’d heard tell from my Minden-ed up ballet pals that they last 5eva and, having just spent ALL of my money forevermore moving house, I figured they’d be a better investment than a new pair of Freeds every few weeks.

I’m not entirely convinced yet that I’ve made the right decision and there’s a niggle in the back of my mind that really I’ve just made a horribly expensive mistake.

I’m loving the no breaking in bit, but equally it’s a bit creepy that they never change and also, I actually miss the breaking in process a teeny bit. But it’s great to just be able to put them on and go dance and feel (sometimes) like dancing rather than clomping about and struggling. Except for turns but my turns are broken right now anyway.

I’m not totally sold yet on, I suspect, this individual pair. I can’t tell if the shank isn’t right or if the vamp is too low but both things are bugging me. I can get up on to the platform every time but quite often find myself going straight over and then my feet collapse – equally that may be my terrible technique or weird feet. Much as they seemed to fit perfectly in the shop, I keep finding myself having to add more bits of elastic or changing things to make them feel like they’ll stay on for an entire class. And these were an absolute sod to sew up, it was a bit like trying to sew through a rock.

They’re quiet, which is nice and makes me feel like I’m doing allegro properly! And I don’t wobble off everywhere working on flat in them. And the built in suede tip is nice, although damn squeaky on the first couple of wears! Plus the drawstring at the side gives for a nicer line. So they’re aesthetically pleasing.

I’m just not entirely convinced by them yet though. Maybe with a bit more time. Or a slightly different model. Or maybe I’ll just go back to good old traditional paste shoes, I’ve got a not quite dead pair of Freeds on the radiator calling to me… Or maybe there’s space in pointe class for both the Gaynors and a good old paste shoe.

I don’t know, I think I’ll just stay on the fence a while longer and risk the splinters. In the meantime, have a picture of The Metrop being pretty:

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Dansolutions 2014

So after 211 classes, my ballet year is over and I’m indulging in a whole fortnight of no classes and eating, drinking and being merry. Although I did something funny to my big toe in my sleep and I can’t put weight on it so my Christmas plans of demanding that Favourite Auntie walks me as well as the puppy on a daily basis are looking a bit like a pipe dream which is TERRIBLE because (a) puppy and (b) hills! Anyway, it seemed the opportune moment now I’m back in the Shire to reflect on the last year from a ballet perspective. Well attempt to anyway…

So my dansolutions 2014 were:

  • manage a pirouette en pointe without getting up to passé and freaking out: yes and no. I’ve managed a few vaguely successful en dehors to the right, failed consistently at turning to the left and not really attempted en dedans. To be honest, pointe’s been a bit of a trial all year: sometimes it’s amazing, sometimes it’s utterly terrible and I can never entirely tell which one it’s going to be. On the bad days I feel entirely like quitting, but I won’t. Not yet anyway, there’s still so much I want to try.
  • achieve some kind of consistency with pirouettes (at the minute there are some classes where I just settle for hitting a decent balance and I’d quite like to get over that now thank you): No. Fail whale right here. No consistency, no anything and far too many off days. In short 2014 has not been my turning year. Well except for waltz turns which I CAN NOW DO!
  • manage an attitude pirouette: Achievement unlocked. Not with any sort of consistency or grace or anything BUT I’ve managed a few. And arabesque pirouettes. I even managed an attitude one in tire-bouchon and that was HARD.
  • achieve consistent doubles en dehors both sides: see 2014 was not my year for turning. Never mind. Next year.
  • get my demi pointe balances more consistent: work in progress but we’re definitely getting there. Except retire at the barre.
  • start jumping again (my patella tendon/ITB have been… niggly so jumping’s been out since about October which is galling): achievement DEFINITELY unlocked. There have been on and off periods of jumping but the on periods have been BRILLIANT. I am definitely more of a jumper than a turner, especially big jumps (petit allegro is the work of the devil sometimes).

I need to make some dansolutions for 2015 but I think I might leave it until I’ve had a decent break and time to ruminate. Isn’t ruminate a great word?

What I probably ought to do is go and rescue my father from the Christmas tree as my mother is making him rearrange the decorations. But I’ve still got half a cup of coffee left to drink and, well, coffee.

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Try something new today…

Having a domestic moment last weekend, I sorted out the kitchen shelves where our cookery books live. In doing so I found myself reminded of the time one of my ace chums challenged herself to make one recipe from every Cook book she owned (she has considerably more than housemate and I but that’s by the by). Since I’ve got back into cooking lately this seemed like the optimum moment to challenge myself to justify the continued existence of all the books on the shelves… Watch this space for fruits of my labours. Or tales of woe. Or both.

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On the subject of trying something new, you may recall that I’d fallen in love at first relevé with my freed classics. They’ve died a sad and tragic death since and I’ve replaced them with another pair (different maker, more paste, hopefully lasting a little longer but I do feel like I’m cheating on my first maker). After a little more than a year, I think I’ve found my shoe…

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July, by numbers

In the whole, July went a lot better than it looked to be gearing up to at one point which is a complete plus, to be honest. Luckily at the point I hit full slump, I was picked up by the right person dispensing the right level of sympathy after which I started to pick myself up and then shuffled off to Rural Derbyshire a few days later and it all got better from there on in. Hurrah.

July also saw the End of an Affair with ‘the pointe shoes that got away’ and the Bloch Sonatas were consigned to the bottom shelf of dead shoes. Despite their promise, they never quite lived up to it which made me a bit sad but I have no regrets. Well except maybe the epically bruised toe nail that they caused… I’ve gone back to Freeds, although my previous flirtation with their Studios II was mildly disastrous, they had plenty to recommend the brand and I’ve now fallen head over heels in love with my Classics. Hurrah.

But back to July, here’s how it shaped up numerically:

Books read 24 (vg)
Ballet classes 20 (vg)
Knitting projects completed 2 (a tank top for The Very Bestest’s eldest and a pair of bootees for a colleague’s Impending Arrival)
Ballets seen: 9
Ballet companies seen: 2 (NEBT and ENB) plus one school performance (LRBS)
Times left London: 2 (a long weekend in Rural Derbyshire and a long weekend in the Don with The Bestest)
Loom band crazes bought into: 1
Trips to the pound shop undertaken to satisfy the above: 2
Occasions I say on my good chum K’s balcony and threw strawberry stalks at other good chums as they arrived: 1

Quite a good months all things considered… And, here, have a photo of the contents of the dead pointe shoe shelf out on the landing this afternoon where I’d lobbed then whilst cleaning my room:

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February, by numbers

Books read: 17 (vg)
Books bought: probably more than 17, ffoqs given: precisely zero
Ballet classes taken: 15 (excellent given I was on holiday for a week)
Times I skived barre stretch during class: 1 (excellent, and it was only because my spine was completely unhappy everywhere)
Pairs of pointe shoes killed: 1, must replace
Ballets seen: 4 (Giselle with Laura Morera in the lead, oh my ~feeeeeeeeeeeels and a triple bill)
Ballet companies seen: 1 (Royal Ballet)
Knitting projects completed: 2 (an iPod cover and a phone case)
Knitting projects cast on and in progress: 2 (a shawl for me and a hat for my mother)
Metres of alpaca silk I bought because my feelings were so strong I almost licked it: 800
Times I cut my own hair off before a job interview: 1
Times I accidentally got a new job in spite of hair cut: 1
Times I made cake for work: 2
Times left london: 3 (vg: Derbyshire, Orkney and Hampshire)
Days spent getting to Orkney: 3
Cameras left behind on Orkney: 1
Nephews acquired: 1

Today it is March which I don’t quite understand. BUT that means tonight I get to go and see Ballet Black! In the LINBURY! Bring on the capslock and the ~feeeeeeeeeeeeeels

Anyway, have a picture o the sea on Orkney:

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2013 By Numbers

Ballet classes: 191 (good but could do better ;))

Pairs of pointe shoes since restarting pointe: three (good, well not the Freed Studios II which, it turned out, were not the right choice for my feet. The Bloch B Morphs and Grishko Proflex were/are great though)

Ballet performances seen: 29 (average)

Ballet companies seen: 11 (vg)

Books read: 221 (could definitely do better)

Knitting projects completed: EXCELLENT QUESTION (why do I have no method for recording this? Must do better)

Baked good produced: my colleagues’ answer to this would be “not enough” and I’d probably be inclined to agree!

TV programmes fallen in love with: Call the Midwife (my ovaries are SO on board the Good Ship Turnadette it’s not funny) and Sherlock. On the downside all my long standing favourites are starting to Jump The Shark (yes, Homeland, I’m looking at you. Also Bones)

Number of times my ovaries were damaged in some, way, shape or form: innumerable (must gird better)

Occasions on which I was forced to break out the CAPSLOCK SQUEE: many

Niggling injuries: numerous (must do better)

2013 has been… well it’s not been terribly bad. It’s had a lot of good points, a few slumps but mostly it’s been a nice year of middling along in an average kind of fashion which suits me just nicely. I don’t think I have many particular aims and ambitions and resolutions for 2014. Well, you know the usual things: Be Less Fat, sleep more, stop playing stupid games on my phone instead of going to sleep, knit more, work harder, keep my bedroom tidy, keep my desk tidy…  oh and BLOG MORE (because I have been a total Slack Alice).Well, maybe there’s a few balletic aims but nothing silly, all (with any luck and a following wind) fairly achievable:

  • manage a pirouette en pointe without getting up to passé and freaking out
  • achieve some kind of consistency with pirouettes (at the minute there are some classes where I just settle for hitting a decent balance and I’d quite like to get over that now thank you)
  • manage an attitude pirouette
  • achieve consistent doubles en dehors both sides
  • get my demi pointe balances more consistent
  • start jumping again (my patella tendon/ITB have been… niggly so jumping’s been out since about October which is galling)

It’s still a bit funny to look back to two years ago when I was in the deep throes of my emo meltdown and all “I NEVER WANT TO DANCE AGAIN”. What a drama queen! Mind you, what a change too. I think 2013, in all honesty, was my happiest dancing year – it’s amazing the change that dancing in the right environment can bring. I have incredible, exceptionally supportive teachers and some completely awesome in class chums and, no matter how lousy the day has been up until Ballet O’Clock, I never fail to leave without feeling at least a little lifted and I know that I am so very, very lucky. Dance wise, there’s a long way to go – at the moment I’m settling for ‘competent. As one of my teachers said “no, not great but definitely better”*.

Here’s to 2014. And “better”.

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…never saw it as a start, more a change of heart/Scottish Ballet Mixed Bill

The Northern Line (Daily Mail)

So last night on the way home from seeing the Scottish Ballet at Sadlers Wells, I had a bit of an epiphany on the Northern Line. If you’ve ever tried to get a moment of blinding clarity on London’s public transport you’ll understand why this is a relatively big deal – it’s like that moment in Sister Act where Whoopi Goldberg’s being asked about getting her ‘nun call’ and she says it was in Reno and ‘you have no idea how hard it is to get a call in Reno’*. This was a proper moment of hit you right between the eyes zen calm realisation. I’ll get to the Scottish Ballet in a moment.

I’ve not been to pointe class in a few weeks (life keeps getting in the way) and, in reality, the next chance I’ll have to go is in the New Year. Then it occurred to me: it probably wouldn’t actually bother me if I never took pointe class again.

Yeah. I know, right?

Grishko 2007s: not worn by me 😉

It turns out I wasn’t all that fussed about the getting to do it, what counted was the fact that someone believed enough in me that I could do it. I guess that was what I really wanted.

Crazy, huh? After all the soul searching and emo woe and seething envy of other people taking pointe… even when I was there, up on my toes, letting go of the barre it never felt quite real, as though it should be happening to me. Pointe is for other people**? Not necessarily. I’ll go back to it but it won’t be the be all and end all. The first time I bourré-d my way across the studio it was like flying (although vastly less elegant and graceful) and I think I just needed to experience that once, an ‘I can’ kind of moment.

Scottish Ballet: Sadlers Wells (scottishballet.co.uk)

Back to the actual ballet though… the Scottish Ballet’s mixed bill presented two pieces: Jorma Elo’s ‘Kings 2 Ends’ and Kenneth MacMillan’s ‘Song of Earth’. It was awfully stuffy in the theatre last night and at times it was a fight to keep my eyes open against the eyeball burning exhaustion…

Elo’s ‘Kings 2 Ends’ is set to Stephen Reichs’ ‘Double Sextet’ and a Mozart violin concerto. As an aside, I’d like bonus points for identifying the Mozart piece as Mozart because of the ‘twiddly bits’ (I’d’ve known if I’d read the programme notes properly, but I didn’t). There are periods of silence, dancing without music and that’s great. I don’t think you could choreograph an entirely unaccompanied ballet, but this works for the brief periods giving a chance to focus on the dancing and not accidentally get distracted by the music. It’s a good piece overall, great contrast between the two pieces of music and danced with fantastic energy by the company. And the costumes are brilliant. My only vague complaint is that it was probably about ten minutes too long, but maybe that’s just me…

Scottish Ballet: Kings 2 Ends (scottishballet.co.uk)

MacMillan’s Song of Earth set to Mahler’s ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ is a complete contrast. After the bouncy joy of ‘Kings 2 Ends’ this is a much darker piece concerned with our own mortality. Its pretext is kind of… well, wanky, for want of a better word. Sorry. The whole ‘death is always around us, don’t be happy you’re only going to die anyway’ kind of thing. But that doesn’t detract from the choreography which is astounding. It’s very MacMillan, if you get me. There are steps and motifs and things that make you go ‘yeah, definitely MacMillan’. It was subtle in the way that Requiem is, you know what the meaning of it is but it doesn’t overwhelm the piece even with the ever present death lurking around on stage in a mask that makes him look a tiny fraction like he sidestepped out of ‘Phantom’… Unfortunately, like the first piece, about fifteen minutes before the end I stopped engaging with the piece and just kind of switched off. Maybe it was tired, maybe it was because I was sore and achey and couldn’t fidget, maybe it was the stuffiness of the theatre, maybe it was just too much Mahler… I don’t know. Up until that point I loved it.

Scottish Ballet: Song of Earth (Guardian)

This was my first ‘run in’ with the Scottish Ballet and it was fabulous. Loved it. More, more , more. Maybe that’ll be the thing to entice me back north of the border for the first time in five years… who knows? Scottish Ballet, keep being awesome!

*I know she was only pretending to be a nun so she didn’t get killed by her mobster boyfriend but it’s the comparison that counts. Sister Act = possibly all time favourite film EVAH.
**That’s the line Sartre meant to write and you know it 😉

Sister Act

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