Pointe Work and a Red Leotard

pointe work and a red leotard
Photographer: Darian Volkova

Would a red, strappy leotard distract the eye from my puffer-fish face or accentuate it? The many thin straps of the garment crisscrossed my back in a pleasing design. It was different. It was daring. I wore it.

The above quote is from TENDU, the first book of A Dancer’s Journey, a romantic-suspense series coming later this year. The main character, Amalphia, has just been through some relationship turmoil, again, and is returning to class after injury caused by an inappropriate level of pointe work. The red leotard gets her into a surprising amount of trouble.

Her injury came from being asked to perform every exercise in class en pointe. This is something that I took from my own life.

pointe work

Memories of Pointe Work

One week at college, our usual morning-class teacher, the late, great Imogen Claire (there will be more on Imogen at a later date) was absent and a substitute put in place. This new teacher decided I needed to be stretched and pushed, and had me do everything en pointe. Just me. Nobody else. This singling-out drew a few nasty looks from the other dancers. But really, there was nothing to be jealous about.

Because it really was everything. Every bend. Every jump. I love jumping en pointe. I still do it sometimes. But as a training method in morning class, this excessive pointe work made no sense. It removed the benefit of many of the exercises, and I limped off to the other lessons of the day improperly warmed-up.

After two days of this, my feet were sore. After a week, they were a mess. But then Imogen returned with her no-nonsense approach to teaching and ballet, and I healed.

There was no need for extra pointe work, as we were blessed with a specialist teacher for that. At first I was surprised to learn that the class was taught by a man, but Gary Harris was a true expert on the subject, performing all the steps en pointe himself in his soft trainers at the front of the studio.

So, dance-school memories indulged, it’s time to head back into those manuscripts…

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28 Replies to “Pointe Work and a Red Leotard”

  1. It may not have been meant to be abusive training for that week, but it sounds as if it was. I hope the damage, psychological and physical, has healed.

    1. There are a lot of big egos in the dance world, and there weren’t such good guidelines about how young people should be treated back then. But exactly what was in her mind, I don’t know.

  2. When I was little I wanted to be a pointe ballerina. It was so elegant. We didn’t have a teacher near me so I did tap and jazz instead. Looking forward to reading your book.

    1. Things are a bit better now, with the invention of nice things like padded toe protectors,but yes, point work is tough.

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