Friday, October 23, 2009

The perils of pointe and other readers questions

Making it look easy

Negative heel sandals, the ballerina’s Birkenstocks: A reader asked how women who spend time on their toes in pointe shoes or ballet boots keep their tendons and muscles stretched. I’ve covered this subject before but it’s worth repeating for those readers who are interested in wearing pointe-shoes and/or ballet boots. While a lot of time and training is given in strengthen the feet and toes to take the wearer’s weight an important area that is often overlooked is the effect being en pointe in ballet heels or pointes has on the contracted calf muscles and Achilles tendons. Some women who have to wear heels every day as part of their business wardrobe know about the shortening of achilles tendons from prolonged heel elevation already, which is one reason you find them out of their heels as often as possible at work. Classical ballet dancers in established companies wear pointes for class, rehearsals and performances but are in slippers or flats enough of the time that shortening of tendons usually isn’t a problem.

The real problem occurs for three general categories of wearers. The first is where genre dancers in pointes or punitive boots (typically with ballet heels) are performing in ballet based BDSM plays or dances that can go on for hours. In the creation of videos the performance can be stopped long enough for the actresses legs to get relief, unless their toe and leg pain in the shoes is part of the video but for actresses and wait-staff in fetish venues shortening of tendons can be a serious problem. The second is sex workers who, as part of their professional persona, adopt a wardrobe of boots and shoes that show off their feet and legs to best advantage in which they could be on their toes for hours at a time, which can be unbelievably painful even for well trained professionals. The third group of concern is impressionable students who think ‘more’ directly equates to ‘better’. Therefore if they walk around on their toes in pointes or ballet heels when at home, in the dorm or while out shopping their strength and technique will improve. The more they are on their toes the more accustomed and the better at it they will be, but that’s just half the story because in real life they can’t stay en pointe forever. That’s where negative heel sandals (NHS) come in. In my ballet company and at St Lucy’s we are fostering ‘the cult of the negative heel’ tying the sandals directly to pointe shoes and ballet boots by showing girls relaxing in NHS while sewing ribbons on pointe shoes or cleaning the laces on ballet boots to give girls and women wearing them an aura of mystery. We are already seeing some transference of that imagery with men seeing a girl in NHS who will fantasize about what her legs look like when she is en pointe in toe shoes or ballet boots.

I’ve addressed this topic primarily to girls and women because we are the ones who traditionally wear pointes and ballet heels for fitness, fetish and during careers. I know there are a few men who do wear them or want to and even a few guys who have the legs and strength and bodies to be good at it. But generally speaking pointe shoes especially are a feminine thing and the laws of physics are against most guys being any good at it at all. However, for male masochists I can strongly recommend wearing a well fitting pair of ballet heels for an unbelievably painful experience that you will remember fondly until you die.

Fantasy boots: While we are on the subject of the pain and pleasure of wearing ballet heels I want to warn women (again) about the boots Amber [the girl who died during an unplanned vacuum abortion that I described in my entry for 10-20-09] was wearing. They should only be used for looks and posing in. They do look beautiful on the foot flattering high arches and insteps. I call this sort of boot ‘fantasy boots’ because while they look beautiful they are useless even for standing in by a trained boot-girl becaude the latex is so thin and stretchy in order to hug the foot like a coat of paint that when the wearer stands in them there is no support in the toe-boxes, insteps and ankles. The rubber is so stretchy that when weight is put on the foot the latex in the instep can’t hold the foot against the shank of the boot or keep her ankles from twisting and she will fall off pointe. Unless the wearer’s feet are so strong she can walk around barefoot en pointe she will almost certainly break an ankle trying to walk in fantasy boots. No trained dancer would ever buy a pair of fantasy boots for herself except to pose in for a photoshoot.

L-Dopa, Prolactin and me: After reading about my induced lactation [in my entry “Ballet and lactation” for 10-22-09] a reader asked how I manage to control my breast size with so much nipple stimulation. The answer is that I’m on L-Dopa to reduce my prolactin level and milk supply to retain my ballet figure while I’m lactating. That’s a side effect of Dopamine that doesn’t occur in all women, but it works for me. Fortunately At the level that I’m taking it Levodopa is combined with carbidopa as Sinemet CRTM (the controlled-release form) in a 100/25 mg pink oval tablet once a day and it doesn’t have much other effect on me except to increase my sex drive. Taking L-Dopa has worked really well keeping my milk production in check to prevent my breasts from getting larger than B cups while still allowing me to enjoy the experience of breast feeding and oxytocin highs.

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Powys , Wales, United Kingdom
I'm a classically trained dancer and SAB grad. A Dance Captain and go-to girl overseeing high-roller entertainment for a major casino/resort