Eighth grade was another year everyone was excited to get to because then you were old enough and strong enough to start pointe. This was everyone’s dream...to dance on the tips of your toes. There was a whole process of getting fitted for pointe shoes. I remember going to Miss Laurie’s shop in August and trying on box after box of pointe shoes. Nothing fit exact, which is what you need in order to dance on pointe. Finally, with the right toe pad and shoe box structure combination, we found a match. Going up on pointe for the first time was exciting and scary. I didn’t even feel a thing! You just had to keep your balance and know a lot about your body awareness in order not to fall down. The first class was jam packed with learning how to get on “full pointe”, bourrées, and échappés. Somehow I managed to stay on my toes the entire time, although I’m not quite sure how.
Getting pointe shoes on and off is quite a process, and if not done right could be a danger to your feet and make it easier for you to fall. I would spend five minutes before and after class just tying and untying my shoes. I’d carefully make sure the toe pads were positioned carefully because heaven forbid my pinkie toe didn’t get covered! Then, I had to make sure the ribbon laces laid flat against my ankle and were perfectly criss crossed and tied as tight as I could stand it. Taking them off was always a relief. I would carefully uncross the ribbon laces to slide off my shoe only to expose my red, beaten, blistered toes. That was the sign of a successful pointe class!
Eighth grade year was the first year I wanted to show my mom I didn’t need her to help me change my costumes in the recital. I wanted to show her how independent I could be with my friends, and for the first time let her enjoy the recital instead of running back and forth after each of my routines. She let me do a “test” run on the night of dress rehearsal. I was in four numbers that year…the most so far in my dance career, but I knew I could do it! I made it through the first two numbers, jazz and pointe, with no flaws. I had my costume on the right way, I had all of the hair pieces perfectly secured, and I looked exactly like my peers. I felt great! After my pointe routine, though I had a short time to change into my ballet costume to dance to the hit song “Waterfalls” by TLC. I knew I was in trouble when I ended up being the only one left in the changing room. All of my friends were already on stage! My place in line was front line on the end (because now I was one of the shortest in the class). My mom sat in the audience, edging out of her seat, looking for me to see if I was hiding in the wings. Nope. I was making my way upstairs to the stage. I gracefully slipped to my end spot in the middle of the routine with a smile on my face at the perfect time like nothing was even wrong. Needless to say, my mom was backstage with me helping me get off those pointe shoes during the next two recital nights.