Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ballet at 40 (the feet)

I'm Week 9 into ballet and my feet certainly don't take a beating like dancers who wear pointe shoes. Yes, my toes feel cramped in my ballet slippers and my pinkies are a bit chafed after class. But the seasoned ballerina? All those years of jumping and turning, twirling and bending. Countless hours perfecting all of those demanding moves with the pretty French names. Imagine the stress put on those toes, arches and heels.

"A ballerina's feet may not be the most attractive thing to look at," says Natasha Kusen in The Australian Ballet's En Pointe! mini-documentary. "All the calluses, they may look ugly. But it protects your feet."

When a ballerina prepares her pointe shoes, it's often a meditative process. I never realized all the work that goes into it. The sewing, the gluing, the tape, the shellac. It's quite intricate and reflects the personality and discipline of each dancer. 

"Sometimes I think our feet look worse than what they actually feel," Principal Artist Amber Scott says in En Pointe! "A lot of people can be quite horrified. They think it looks torturous. But it's sort of like someone who works with their hands. The joints become a bit bigger over use, the skin gets calloused. But they're doing a job and they're adapting to that job. Yeah, I kind of like them."

Watch and see, and appreciate this enduring art.  

My love-hate relationship with the leotard.
Why ballerinas are way more hardcore than you. (BuzzFeed)