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What Does En Pointe Feel Like?

I wonder what pointe shoes feel like on your feet, when you try to stand en pointe?

I don’t often let myself think about en pointe stuff because I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, so I don’t want to set that as a goal and end up disappointed.

So apart from when I dream (literally) about being en pointe, I don’t think about it too much. But I was thinking about this yesterday. What do pointe shoes feel like from the inside while you’re en pointe? Apart from painful!

I wonder if they’re hard, like timber? Cold? Sweaty? How do your feet not slide around in them? Is there any support for your feet? Is that what the shank is for? I’m such a beginner.

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15 thoughts on “What Does En Pointe Feel Like?”

  1. I think about it a lot. It may be that I cannot stand up in pointe shoes. I don’t know. But I am going for all I can in terms of strengthening and flexibility in the meantime. Seven years ago when my friend took ballet from our current instructor, she was told she might be able to go en pointe by the end of that year. But her feet are VERY different from mine. My toes, for one thing, are not at all even –and I have an extremely narrow heel. I have made it a goal though. If I can’t, I can’t. But I HAVE to go for it. I missed out on pointe class when I took ballet years ago. While I don’t expect to “dance” en pointe, I absolutely will try for barre work! I think you should, too!

    I wonder just as you do about how they feel, sweating, etc. !!!!!

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    1. Thanks for that reply, DR. I think it’s great that you have that goal. And clearly your teacher isn’t apposed to it! Yay!

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  2. Pointe shoes are rather comfortable. Depends though. They could feel great standing in them and then you go en pointe and they feel awful. It depends on how the shoe supports your foot en pointe. All the bones in your feet make you articulated. You’re not a solid piece. That’s why shoes are so stiff and we work so hard strengthening our feet and ankles- to flex them rock hard. So when you go en pointe you are solid and your weight is supported by all that flexing and a solid shoe containing it.
    If a shoe is too loose you “sink” so your articulated though flexed would crumple inside the shoe and you could hurt yourself. Just imagine wearing a pair of hiking boots 2x too large.
    If you get a shoe too tight your foot rubs uncomfortably and tightly and swells and blisters form. Again think if a pair of shoes too tight. That sucks!
    The demands of a pointe shoe is strong. Some offer many pros that could also be cons.
    It needs to support you when you’re flat, it needs to support you en pointe. If you’re a professional ballerina you sometimes have different shoes for different dances. If you’re doing a long piece en pointe the dancer may choose a stiff shank and strong box with maybe a large platform depending on what she needed to perform her piece. Or if she’s in demi a lot a softer well broken in bic and shank.
    The platform is what dancers pointe on. In my experience I use a very small platform. They very in size and shape from round to oval wide or narrow. A large wide platform obviously will allow you to balance better because you’re distributing weight on a bigger base. I use a small platform because my toes are tapered which narrows my weight to a smaller pointe.
    The box grasps your foot and keeps you sturdy. It holds your toes/metatarsals in place. There is a lot of technology these days to emphasize “winged support” in the meta region but personally that causes me to cramp.
    The shank is the stiff board or rare occasion plastic or even carbon fiber, that is nailed into the sole of the shoe. It’s stiffness bends and forces pressure into your arch supporting you. Usually you feel pressure from under your heel to your arch. It’s like you fed hooked the arch of your foot in a bar stool rung and its causing your toes to point.
    Being en pointe is hard. And to maneuver is very hard. Your muscles are resisting the stiffness of the shoe so you’re working double. You can’t feel the floor like a pair of soft ballet shoes and must translate what you’re feeling through the sole and shank of the shoe.
    Otherwise, without all the technical mumbo jumbo, it is an elating feeling. They firmly are tied to your foot, if they’re the right pair of shoe they feel secure tight but not too tight, and though you’re balancing your weight on your toes it doesn’t feel like the world is on your shoulders, you feel light and airy. At least I do πŸ™‚

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    1. Wow, Merciet(?), thank you for such a wonderful reply. Your descriptions are both vivid and practical and help me to imagine what it would feel like. I didn’t expect such an indepth reply! I can easily imagine the feeling now. Including the difference between the right shoe and the wrong one. Lovely positivity as well, which I appreciate.

      I must admit I always assumed that pointe shoes would just be painful at every step. Your explanation has allowed me to understand more about all the different aspects that go into moving en pointe and I can see that it’s not as simple as plonking yourself onto your toes and balancing there. It’s very interesting to think about all the parts of the body that work together to move en pointe!

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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      1. You’re welcome. I like to be thorough and in-depth about pointe shoe fit. A lot of professional books don’t explain it well so when I went to buy my first pointe shoes I was at a loss what would feel “right”. Normally though when you try many shoes like many wedding dresses, trying to find the one, you just find the one that works after trial and error. It’s also frustrating because they don’t tell you how much your foot will change after your first pointe classes which will cause you to “out grow” your shoes and then you’ll be on a new search.
        I went over some basics of pointe shoes so it’s not overly in-depth to all the anatomical parts of a shoe. One that is often forgotten or left out is “profile” how “tall” the shoe is from sole to top in the box. I have a rather thin/flat foot which requires me to have a shallow profile box. Some people may need large profiles if they have a “meaty” foot. Feet are amazing and trying to get them into a pointe shoe is extremely hard.
        Google or look at youtube videos of pointe students in their shoes and then look at professionals in their shoes. You will be amazed at how the shoe is apart of a professionals feet while the student is still grasping the tool. I aspire to have that shoe apart of foot trait but I will never dance as much to get that haha.

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      2. As I just said to RO, I feel so blessed to have you both give me such a great picture of pointe shoes. You definitely went in-depth enough for me, at this point. It was the right amount of info for me. I am amazed by how much my idea of pointe work has now changed! I’m so happy I wrote about it. And so happy that you have been generous enough to help expand my knowledge!

        Thanks, again. And I will definitely do the youtube search you suggested. πŸ™‚ ❀

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  3. Being en pointe is something that’s different from anything else you’ve ever felt and will ever feel again. When you first roll up en pointe it feels really unnatural but you can feel your whole body working to keep your balance. Your upper legs, your calves, your back and your stomach will all help you keep your balance.
    If you have the right pointe shoes, you feel support coming from the shank of your shoe and your toes will be straight and suspended in the box of the shoe. After a while your feet will get warmer and sweaty because they are of course cramped up in a satin shoe. The box doesn’t feel that hard as you might think, it’s actually a very comfortable feeling standing on the box of your shoes once you get the hang of it.

    The last thing I can say is: Once you get better at dancing en pointe, you can really start to ‘dance’, there is nothing like it!

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    1. Wow, RO, another great reply! Thank you! I had a big smile reading your words. Especially that it does in fact feel nice to dance en pointe, once you get the hang of it. How delightful! I had no idea.

      Such precise description and you have added to my vision of what pointe shoes feel like.

      I never would have thought that my idea of pointe work would change so much!

      I feel blessed to have such wonderful, generous blogcquaintances to shed light on the ballet mysteries. Thank you. ❀

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      1. You’re so welcome!! It’s a delight for me to tell about ballet, pointe shoes and everything that goes with it. Also nice to have someone appreciate ballet wisdom and people around to share their own experiences regarding their ballet-journey ! πŸ™‚

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  4. Wonderful post (and replies!). I think of us adult beginners wonder about pointework, so I can definitely relate. I just started ballet a couple weeks ago, but trust me, I’m already thinking about pointe shoes in my future. Good luck to you, and keep us posted!

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