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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
A dancer's dilemmaPosted Monday, June 20, 2011, at 4:22 PM
I remember the first day it happened; it was nearly a year in the making.
As my hands gently gripped the wooden barre that ran along the wall, I slowly rose to the tips of my toes, new pink satin shoes feeling the floor for the first time.
Ouch was my initial reaction. But the pain eventually faded. The more I worked at it, the less it hurt. Eight years later, I hardly feel a thing.
There were a few milestones along the way, like the first time I did a triple pirouette on pointe. A pirouette is a fast turn that requires precise balance - think about balancing on the tip of your toe in a space roughly the size of a half dollar.
Perhaps it was made possible with the perfect shoes (or I like to think so). After seven years of wearing whatever my teachers recommended, normally Russian Grishkos or American Capezios, I was professionally fitted for a pair of pointe shoes. It was love at first sight with my custom-made Gaynor Mindens.
However, success is due to some fabulous instructors.
Marty was my first teacher, at the Forest City YMCA. We spent so many hours dancing together, especially when she started my pointe training.
We would prop the studio door open, and the sound of the classical music would spark the curiosity of those exercising. They'd normally peek through the windows to see what was going on. I enjoyed watching the awestruck expressions they would make.
Margaret was the most talented; she had a degree in dance and used to be professional. She was tough, and yelling was common. I remember a pointe class where we had to do turns all the way across the floor without stopping, roughly 25 feet. If we didn't make it, we had to try again until we did.
That was a typical class, where I would leave sweaty and aching, but satisfied. She pushed me to improve in ways I never thought I could.
And there was Chelsea, one of the sweetest people I know. I only danced with her for a year, but enjoyed every moment of it.
I performed for the last time in May, in Chelsea's full-length ballet. Now my pointe shoes are tucked away in the closet, waiting. Now I feel like I am wasting all that time I spent in class, and all the technique and flexibility I have acquired.
So what's a dancer to do when all the studios are closed for the summer?
I gave in a few weeks ago and went to a Zumba class, and have to admit, it was the most fun I've had in a long time. Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance workout, which is, in a nutshell, quite awesome.
I think it will fill the hole, for now, but I anxiously await September.
* Ashley Miller is a member of the Pilot-Tribune news staff. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.