I slipped on my first pair of pointe shoes at age 12, quite mesmerised by the shiny satin and also quite perplexed as to how to stand up on such a thing. They seemed so hard and unbreakable in the beginning, how was my foot meant to bend that hard board?!
My first shoes were Bloch Suprimas, their delicate little tapered toe made for dainty little unmarked feet.
17 years later and hundreds of pairs later, I have worn a whole range of Bloch pointe shoes, a quest to find the one that fits like a glove and becomes just an extension of my leg. I wore the Concerta for my Advanced RAD exam and Solo Seal.
I wore Aspiration (what an inspiring name!) pointes for my Graduation Performance at The Australian Ballet School dancing Le Corsaire. I still have that pair at home as keepsake, along with a few other pairs from special nights on stage.
I wore the Sonata for a long time, which will always remind me of my debut as Kitri in Don Quixote. I have been wearing a personally customised Synergy shoe for a few years now. It still thrills me to see my name printed on the bottom of the shoe S T E P H E N S E N — someone has made these especially with me in mind!
I sew close to a pair every day or second day depending on repertoire. Sewing shoes is a constant as a ballet dancer, but I have always found it therapeutic and calming. It reminds me how far I’ve come from the days when mum used to sew on the ribbons, and the shoes would last a good 6 months. Those shoes never broke down, just became too worn.
Sewing new shoes reminds me of starting afresh on a new day, fresh ideas on dancing. The new shoes are so shiny, the leather sole squeaks on the floor. I love hearing the sound of the cracking of the glue as I bend it with my hands, the little adjustments I make to every pair. It also reminds me of possibility – back when I could barely get over the block, I never dreamed that it was possible to turn and jump and balance en pointe everyday and how liberating it can feel.
It’s also incredibly humbling to think that my pointe shoes have carried me all around the world and some of my greatest experiences, highs and lows, have been in these shoes. They have helped me feel capable, ethereal, strong, fragile, beautiful and vulnerable in various moments. It’s a life teetering on the edge of the block, sometimes a little too far and sometimes not enough, trying to find and feel my balance.
I know that in dance as in life, that place of vulnerability is where lies the possibility of wonder. One of my favourite researchers and writers Brene Brown says –
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change.”
Vulnerability is where we feel alive, it’s where we feel raw and open but can also feel practically limitless and free.
Thank you Bloch Australia for always keeping me on my toes, for being there through 17 years of dancing and most especially, for reminding me of the infinite possibility in dancing and in life.