Tag Archives: pointe

Dansolutions 2016 update

*insert pathetic, whingey excuses for not blogging here*

The triple pirouette is not coming on at all. Even my sporadically consistent double has left me and my singles are wobbly. This happens every now and again, I freak out that I will never be able to turn again and eventually thy come slowly back.

On the other hand, I changed my pointe shoe maker to one with a slightly harder box (I wear Freed classic plus, btw) and I am sort. Of managing en dehors en pointe again. Woo!

AND, after some very sensible advice from one of my teachers, I am revisiting dansolution 2015 which was to wear deshanked dead pointe shoes for ‘normal’ class. It’s working out better this time round but in some aspects I feel like I’ve gone back to he beginning again.

In running news, I hit my 2016 runsolution of a sub-29 parkrun in January. Then I did it again in February and in March. Then we moved back on to the summer course and my times have slowed because it’s fractionally trickier. Seeking a new challenge, I’ve signed up for a 10k next month – I’m aiming for 65-70 minutes!

And in Operation Read All The Things, I am on O-P of the fiction shelves. And in knitting news, I got sucked in by a yarn sale and am now happily addicted to a sock yarn blanket.


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Filed under I dance (not by Toyota), Run, Nellie, run

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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Cos you’re there for me too…

So far 2015 has mostly involved me not knowing entirely if I’m coming or going…

We moved office at work, total relocation to a different part of the Metrop. Largely from my perspective, leaving our old building involved me trying out the various packing crates for size, climbing into the empty stationery shelves to prove I fitted and sneaking up on to the roof to admire the view… The new office is working out pretty cool: I have a new commute (on the DLR, I can pretend to drive it!) and we have an on site canteen (second breakfasts FTW!) and, when the weather’s nice, we get so much light because of all the windows.

Along with moving offices, I moved house… After several years, My Beloved Housemate decided it was time to move on so I am now flying solo in my attic flat. It’s been a couple of weeks since I got the keys and it feels completely like mine now. I need to buy another bookcase at some immediate point in the future because there is no such thing as too many books… I keep remembering about things I don’t own (like a corkscrew!) mind you…

Ballet wise I made a move to the dark side for pointe shoes. After six months of various pairs of Freeds (which I loved but never lasted, yes the pair of Studio Operas that died in one class, I’m looking at you), and prior to that Blochs and Grishkos, I made the leap to Gaynors. I think I might be in love…

And finally, I got over the entrelac fear in knitting. I’ve attempted it several times over the years but never quite got my head around it. Now I have and I feel like I’ve crossed the final frontier of knitting!

This is a photo I took on my walk to the tube from the new office, cityscape featuring the Tower of London, the Shard and some trafficlights:


ETA and the title? I may be marathon watching Friends…


Filed under I dance (not by Toyota), knitting on pointe, random stuff and nonsense

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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Pointe shoes, I love you but…

…discovering at this time of night that I’ve sewn myself a pair of right shoes, I find myself loving you less so.


Photo: recycling the ribbons and elastics off a dead pair of Freed Classics for my new Freed Studio Operas. Still in that elusive hunt for THE pair. In the meantime this keeps growing:



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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.


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…


Filed under baking and mixing and kitchen stuff, I dance (not by Toyota), iPointe

The ones that got away…

In my long and illustrious* pointe career, there has been one particular make of shoe that has, despite general agreement that they’d be ace for my feet, consistently got away: the Bloch Sonata. I’ve never been able to be fitted with the right length/width combination until now. I admit I’m a little apprehensive in case they don’t live up to the hype but hopefully we’ll wind up the firm friends that we’ve promised to be on more than one occasion in the shop…


Let’s just not talk about the giant holes in the toes of my soft shoes which haven’t been replaced because I accidentally spent that money on a new Designed by Alice skirt instead. Shhhhhh.

*lol, irony


Filed under I dance (not by Toyota), knitting on pointe

To get back to the pointe

About 18 months ago I had a moment of epiphany on the Northern Line which mostly made me happy because i got to make a tenuous link with Sister Act. At that juncture I decided that pointe was quite definitely for other people and I was perfectly happy with that.

Except the opportunity to get back to the pointe has presented itself and, in what can only be described as a moment of brain to mouth failure, I found myself agreeing to restart pointe as of fairly imminently. I don’t know how I feel about it just yet but I’m putting it out here so I don’t back out on it.

In other news my blanket is coming on gorgeous (I am at the stage where I like wearing it and pretending to be an evil knitted penguin…) and I whored my soul out to Apple and upgraded my poor old crack berry wireless device to an iPhone (i blame all errors in this post on using the touch screen and auto correct). I’m not sue how I feel about that yet either.

Colour me all kinds of confused. And up past my bedtime. Silly self. Here have some pictures instead.




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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


Filed under ballet how it should be done, I dance (not by Toyota), iPointe

Knitting the ballet

Remember the spot of yarn lust I had a week or so ago? And the incredible urge to knit ballet? Good. Knitting ballet is where it’s at right now. Being up in the hills for the weekend afforded me a lot of time to knit ballet.

New bun cover, quick half an hour project on Saturday afternoon. New skill learned = beaded knitting. I’ve thought on and off about beaded knitting since I once eschewed it on a pattern about three years ago and then about a week or so ago I had the epiphany of ‘well surely it can’t be that hard if I just thread the beads on before I cast on then…’ BANG TIDY I believe is not the phrase we’re looking for here folks. Probably bob on is more what I’m after. The yarn is a Wendy Happy which does not make me happy, it’s a vile splitty bamboo blend sock yarn that I simply do not get along with. Bleurgh. I’m using most of it on my current blanket but I think I could stretch to using it for bun covers every now and again too. I’m kind of in love with the finished product, I have to admit.

Most of Saturday was given over to my original ballet yarn, the King Cole Riot, to finish my pointe shoe bag. I’d bought the yarn because it reminded me of Ondine. Knit up, it reminded me less of that and more of something I can’t quite put my finger on. One of my friends suggested Carabosse, I’m not inclined to agree (partly because many moons ago I once bought the ideal Carabosse yarn, it was seriously gorgey mcgorge on stilts). One side is pretty swirly cables that remind me of ribbons and Balanchine’s Serenade, the other side is a basic lace net to allow breathing space for my shoes. I hated working with the yarn (boo splitty) but knit up it’s gorgeous and I’m somewhat enamoured in a shameless kind of fashion.

Don’t look too closely or you will see my really, really dreadful seaming. I’d half planned to knit it in the round then graft the bottom together but realised before I’d cast on that it wasn’t really designed to be knitted in the round. The colourway wound up being a lot more evenly striped than I’d envisaged, I think this is why I can’t equate it with Ondine in the way that I did when it was still balled. I just, I’m not sure what it is. Answers on a postcard, please.

I also got started on a couple of projects…

The Elite Syncopations legwarmers. I’m not entirely convinced about these right now, maybe we’ll see once I’ve actually finished one. I’m a bit unhappy with the way the colours are coming out in it. They start off all swirly and gorgeous at the bottom but as I’ve gone up the white seems to have vanished and the colours are kind of clumping together instead. I mean there’s every chance it’ll look slightly different on but I’m not sure. I’m just also not minded right now to rip the whole lot back and start again. But I just… oh, it’s so maddening and saddening when you buy an exciting gorgeous yarn with a whole wealth of expectations on it and it doesn’t quite live up.

Still reminds me of Elite Syncopations though. Hurrah. I guess that’s a plus, isn’t it?

And finally I got cracking on with my shrug:

Literally I am so in love with this I just want to finish it NOW NOW NOW. The impulse lust purchase of that Manos Serena is just… *mwah* My plan essentially is to knit up the entire hank of Serena then knit up the other purple sleeve bit, see how long it is and just seam the sleeves up to where my shoulders are rather than adhering to any kind of pattern/measurements/sense of self. It’s so amazingly soft and stroky and… I WANT IT NOW PLEASE NOWNOWNOW. Not that I’m impatient or anything. I think the colourway here is kind of Aurora-ish but again, not entirely sure. Answers on another postcard?



Filed under I dance (not by Toyota), iPointe, random stuff and nonsense