From Painful to Promising - Anneke's Pointe Shoe Journey
My name is Anneka Van Greevenbroek and I’ve been dancing with Alison’s studio of Dance in New Plymouth for around 10 years now. I started my pointe journey in 2018, about 4 years ago, when I was just about to turn 13.
The beginning of my pointe journey was normal to start with just breaking in my shoes and starting from a beginner level. However, as I became more confident en pointe, coming away from the barre and dancing for longer, I began experiencing painful cramps in my feet, which forced me to stop dancing as soon as they occurred.
I tried hard to work around this, thinking it was just a problem with my feet and began doing a lot of strengthening exercises on and off pointe but once again this failed to help the problem. After a while of doing this, I had to get new pointe shoes, so I went to the store that I had been previously for a second pointe shoe fitting to see if this could help. This fitting was bittersweet as these shoes helped the cramping issue but I was unable to fully go up en pointe.
This new set back really took a hammer to my confidence in pointe work as well as just my dance work in general, especially as I tried to continue through it thinking I was the problem. During this time, I was also starting out with competing en pointe and kept getting reports from the adjudicators about how I needed pull up more or strengthen my pointe work, which I was trying so hard to do, but I never seemed to be able to manage compared to the other girls in my studio or at dance competitions.
The first major difference that occurred in my pointe journey happened when I had a fitting for pointe shoes with Ashley Ellen Dance. At first, I was very skeptical of the pointe shoes she had me try on as the shape of the box was quite different from what I had had previously, and the shoes were a lot tighter around my foot. The most puzzling to me was the fact that I didn’t need any toe pads!
I remember my first pointe lesson with these new shoes and although my toes hurt from all the rubbing they weren’t used to; I could finally get over the box properly and no cramping happened! Over time the irritation of the rubbing went away, and I began to grow my confidence in pointe work again.
I felt really proud of myself, and it showed in my dancing and while I still wasn’t perfect (but whoever really is with ballet) my technique was getting better. This was just in time too, as I was able to sit my advanced 1 ballet exam and successfully get through the pointe work with confidence.
My reports at competitions became less focused on pulling up through my feet and more directed in other places. The improvement in my pointe work really shined through in my last competitions where I was awarded Most Promising Pointe Dancer of the entire competition!
I thoroughly recommend finding the right pair of pointe shoes for you as we are all different and there are so many different styles, brands and shapes of pointe shoes out there to try with the help of the right person, such as Ashley, to help you find them.
Another thing is keep going and don’t give up. Ballet dancing on flat is hard enough without the added strain of pointe shoes and so many people out there haven’t gotten to the stage you are, so please try to find and hold onto the reason why you love dance, to keep on going, even if you don’t, like me, see a career in it.