Wednesday, June 25, 2008

En Pointe

My young friend Quincie is the most beautiful dancer I've ever seen. She is breathtaking to watch on stage in every style and technique from tap to contemporary to lyrical to hip hop. She dances for hours and hours every week and competes all over the country. I can't wait until she is famous and I can say I knew her when she was just a little girl.

Tonight I was watching as she was breaking in her new pointe shoes. Literally. She was slamming these beautiful, pink, satin shoes in the pantry door, banging the toes on the cement floor and hammering on the arch. She even had to sew on the satin ties herself.

I think something is wrong here. It's a well-known fact that pointe = pain. And not the good kind of building-muscles-getting-stronger pain, but real pain pain. In fact, a quick search on Wikipedia includes a short list of injuries that pointe dancers can suffer.

Achilles tendinitis
Athlete's foot
Bruised toenails
Cuts between the toes
Dancer's heel (Plantar fasciitis)
Dorsal exostosis
Extensor tendinitis
Fungus nails
Hallux limitus and rigidus
Hammer toes
Heel bruises
Heel spurs
Ingrown toenails
Jammed big toes
Posterior Impingement Syndrome
Plantar warts
Sprained ankles
Stress fractures
Thickened toenails

I didn't make this list up, Wikipedia did. But it all sounds very bad to me. I think it's the pointe shoe's fault. The lovely pink satin wrapping is unfairly deceptive. Dancers cram their feet into these stiff, brutal foot corsets. They have to stuff the ends of the shoes with special padding or lamb's wool just to keep their toenails from falling off.

I think it's time to call Nike.

If boys were dancing en pointe the shoes would definitely not be this painful. Nike or Adidas or Reebok would have come up with a special pointe shoe that enhances performance and is much more comfortable. Come on! What about air pockets in the end that blow up and conform to the dancer's toes? Or some kind of springy rubber end with floor grips?

Solidarity girls. It's time to stand up and revolutionize pointe shoes.

No comments: