Saturday, October 16, 2010

Men in pointes

Craig Salstein ABT soloist with ballet photographer Gene Schiavone

(during the Guinness Most Ballet Dancers on Pointe (230) record set on August 2, 2010 in Central Park NYC )

Beef cake en pointe:
I think Craig Salstein’s legs are just so awesomely well defined en pointe and the presentation of his package is so, well, masculine and mouthwateringly erotic (sigh!) in the photo accompanying this entry. Isn’t he gorgeous in his shortie purple unitard!

Male dancers in pointe shoes: I’m not going to go into the history of men in ballet and how women, once they found how to dance on their toes, gradually relegated men to a supporting role in ballet, though in recent years that has begun to change bringing more men to the fore in ballet. These comments are about how I see the relationship of men and the pointe shoe today.

All my male dancers take pointe to strengthen their feet and to broaden their dance perspective by experiencing what female dancers who routinely wear pointes experience. Men are routinely given the opportunity to take pointe class in most ballet companies and it is worthwhile. It makes guys far more appreciative of women ‘flitting around on their toes’ as one non-dancer man put it. And generally male professional dancer’s feet and ankles are so strong that they are up to speed very quickly. The tricky part is getting a toe protection regimen established of taping toes and using ouch pouches or other padding as women commonly do.

But unless a guy is a member of the ‘Trocks’, Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the St Petersburg All Male Ballet Troupe (Russian), Matthew Bourne's dance company (New Adventures), the New York based company Les Ballets Grandiva, or another all-male company there is usually no need for a male dancer to be on his toes very often for there are few roles for men en pointe in major classics. There are some ethnic dances where men in blocked boots will dance on their toes, but not in traditional pointe shoes. Puck in A Mid Summer Nights Dream and the wicked step-sisters in Cinderella are the main roles in which men wear pointe shoes in classical ballets that come immediately to mind, but there are a few others, for example in Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker.

Les Ballets Grandiva is an interesting Company. I think it is still performing, but the last advert for them was in March of this year. To me the interesting thing about Les Ballets Grandiva is that they have a ‘male pointe initiative’. More about that below.

Pointe shoes and men who aren’t dancers

Romantics: There are men so enamored of pointe shoes that they almost seem to attribute magical qualities to the shoes. This is not a new phenomenon; it extends back at least to the mid 19th century. Perhaps the start of pointe mania and worship of the women who wear them was during Marie Taglioni’s triumphal season performing in Russia, when her adoring fans cooked a pair of her ballet slippers and served them with a sauce.

For these men when a woman puts on a pair of pointes they transform her from a normal woman into a mythical all-powerful female creature of surpassing beauty, strength and ability. For men who have the romantic notion that pointes are transformative objects turning a woman who sweats and bleeds into a goddess may have some validity because standing en pointe with our calves contracted, buttocks clenched and breasts thrust out – the normal position for a woman en pointe – our bodies do look sleeker, curvier and generally more attractive. Not to mention that our pelvic muscles are contracted as well, thus providing the tightest grip on a penetrating partner when having sex while balanced on the platforms of our pointes. And women who have had enough ballet training to be en pointe professionally have enough steel in their spines to be independent, self assured and in many cases dominant over these romantically inclined men who are predisposed to believe the fantasy.

Men in pointe shoes: There are also a few men who with little or no dance or pointe training are very interested in wearing pointe shoes themselves. If this aspect of the male pointe shoe fetish only involves wearing them while sitting down or lying on a bed like so many women do when wearing ballet boots, the fetish is relatively harmless. It’s when men push themselves to try to stand and walk in pointe shoes without any strengthening of their feet and ankles that serious problems can occur. The likelihood of severely spraining or breaking ankles or toes then becomes a very real possibility, not to mention the discomfort of bruised nails and blisters. And some men in this category become very upset (you know who you are) when female dancers try to warn them about the dangers. I attribute this to the same male gene that causes many men to refuse to ask for directions when they are lost. Or, perhaps it’s too much testosterone.

I have several dancer-stallions who are really good at moving confidently en pointe and I have been taken by them while we both were balancing on our platforms. Being taken by a guy while he is balancing on his toes doesn’t do much for me erotically, but it’s a great test of the man’s ability to compartmentalize to keep from falling off pointe while staying focused to prevent his bone from wilting while he is trying to get me off ahead of himself. For my guys there was a learning curve even though they were motivated by competition to see which of them could get me off quickest. For couples en pointe we all wear Gaynors and I stand on an adjustable platform so our pelvises are at about the same level. I tried having them take me on a flight of stairs, but that didn’t work nearly as well since I had to be at least two steps up and then the distance between us was too great. Although, if we found a narrow stairway with hand railings on both sides I could hold on to I could lean back to close the gap and to brace myself for his thrusts. So under some conditions it is doable.

Male pointe challenges: There are several problems that non-dancer men wanting to wear pointes face. First is finding a dance shop that has a sympathetic fitter who will properly fit them in pointes because without properly fitting shoes the wearer will be in great pain and can cause permanent damage to his feet.

There may be reluctance on the part of pointe shoe fitters – especially in small towns – to fit untrained men. This is based primarily on the concern that the man is not strong enough to stand and walk en pointe in them and if injured will sue the shop and fitter who, he will claim, should have known better than to sell him the shoes in the first place.

A secondary issue in small towns is that a man being fitted with pink pointes – the color in which the shop has the most sizes for fitting – can freak out tweens and their mothers coming in to buy the daughter a new pair of shoes. It can also be embarrassing for the man as well if he is the least bit concerned about what other people (especially women) might think when they see him in pointes. And finally, finding a shop that has pointe shoes in sizes that will fit men can be a problem even in larger towns.

Some men are fortunate to have understanding sisters, girl friends or wives with ballet training to go to their local dance shop with them to lessen the likelihood of rejection and help with the fitting. Buying pointe shoes on-line may be an option, but the process of self-fitting is one of trial and error over a long interval and even when the shoes are discounted can be a costly proposition.

In my case I’m fortunate to be a dancer so I can enjoy wearing pointes during the day while I’m working. I know it is not easy for men who have a psychological need to actively wear pointe shoes. And I’m aware that the fetish can be driven by multiple and complex psychological needs. While pointes are my work shoes I love wearing them because I like the way being on my toes makes my body look and feel so ultra-feminine. I love the bondage aspect of having my feet tied securely into my pointes by their ribbons. And I love the feel as the weight of my body fluctuates pressing my toes into the blocks as I walk or bourrée en pointe and I like the pain. Being able to balance, run and jump confidently in pointe shoes is a sexually arousing experience for me and I fully expect that each man has just as complex a set of psychological needs – probably different from mine – that together make up his fascination with and need to wear pointes. Perhaps it is the fact that the shoes themselves are beautiful, that they are feminine footwear, that they take skill to wear and that there is pain involved. What ever the reasons are that are driving him I wish every man with a pointe-shoe fetish well in reaching the fetish goals he sets for himself.

I think it’s great that men want to experience the thrill of dancing, or at least standing, on their toes in pointe shoes. And as an additional benefit it certainly deepens their insight into the art of ballet. All I’m saying is that if the effort in time, money and pain is to be worthwhile the task needs to be planned for logically. Being in denial and believing that training doesn’t matter if you want to walk en pointe in toe-shoes can get you seriously hurt

I have at least one frequent reader (you know who you are) who has found supportive fitters and takes pointe classes. I hope he will stop by and share his experiences and tips for men who are serious about being able to wear pointe shoes confidently.

I mentioned above that there would be more about Les Ballets Grandiva’s Male Pointe initiative which I think is such a great idea. It is explained below, from information available by clicking on the outreach link on their website:

Les Ballets Grandiva
Description of our outreach and educational services

The Male Pointe Initiative

Male comedy ballet belongs to a special genre of dance, and it is Les Ballets Grandiva’s goal to provide support and education to those dancers who choose this particular art form as their occupation. We wish to give those dancers a serious option to conventional ballet companies, and make becoming a member of our company a choice they can be proud to make.

As The Male Pointe Initiative is the official training of Les Ballets Grandiva, it is our objective to maintain and improve each dancer’s male technique – including jumps, turns, beats, and partnering, while developing pointe technique – focusing on foot articulation, in-step and ankle strengthening, and weight distribution. Ballet and pointe classes are kept separate so each dancer can focus on correctly and effectively developing both male and pointe technique.

Along with the daily educational regiment for the company, members of our staff tour the Untied States during the summer months providing workshops for male dancers who wish to study pointe technique.

Male Pointe Initiative Summer Intensive Curriculum –
Ballet Technique
Pointe Technique for the Male Dancer
Pointe Variations
Partnering Male Dancers
Men’s Technique
History of the Male Dancer
Acting for Dancers
Injury Prevention

Qualifications –
Male between the ages of 18 - 23
Advanced ballet technique
Strong ankles
Stable trunk
Proper control of rotation

College and University Lecture Series

Our Lecture Series is geared towards all college level dancers who are seriously looking to dance professionally. We are committed to ensure a positive and nurturing learning environment where dancers can feel comfortable, reach their individual goals, and grow as artists. Along with ballet and pointe technique, our platforms consist of – Comedy in Ballet and Acting for Dancers.

Master classes

Intended for intermediate and advanced students, this two hour class is aimed towards proper technique and alignment to create the necessary classical lines and prevent injury, working with individual rotational capabilities, improving flexibility, hand to head relationship, and performance quality. Insight into the audition process and tips on getting a job is also provided. Every student is given individual attention.

Lecture demonstrations

Students watch technique class while a moderator explains the value of the exercises and their relevance in the process of going from classroom to stage. Excerpts from company repertoire are performed, and character development and comedy is explored to show how dancers and chorographers create. Audience participation is included where a number of volunteers are incorporated into excerpts with company members. Choreographic participation is encouraged where students can witness firsthand, with their input, how choreography can develop into a ballet.

Educational performances

Intended for schools and other community venues, this series showcases longer sections of company repertoire with moderator explanation.


For schools who are interested in a more in-depth approach, our workshop offers a combination of master class, lecture demonstration and education. Workshop lengths and schedules can be discussed for the particular needs of individual schools. Workshops conclude with a performance of Les Ballets Grandiva.


Les Ballets Grandiva’s residency programs combines master class, coaching, lecture demonstration, pre-determined lecture series, school performance, company performance, and post performance reception. While working, rehearsing, and performing alongside professionals, students gain the understanding of what is expected of them once they venture out into the dance world.

Physical Education Dance

An introduction to dance for non-dancers incorporating beginner ballet, modern, yoga, cardio activities, cultural dances, and popular dance. This program is designed for schools who do not have a dance program but would like to introduce their students to movement. A gym, performance space, or stage is required. Students should wear lose fitting t-shirts and sweats or shorts.

College and University Lecture Series Curriculum –
Ballet Technique
Pointe Technique
Acting for Dancers
Including Character Development and Pantomime
Lectures on Comedy in Ballet
Lecture Demonstration on Male Comedy Ballet
Audition Process

For fee information and further inquiries, contact Noriko Miyazaki at (212) 875-0951


  1. A friend of mine did some time as a fitter in a well known London Dance Supply outlet, she once told me that on Saturdays she would othen fit as many Males as Females with pointe shoes.

  2. I've seen women become astronauts; I met the first women to command a B-52 Strategic Bomber; soon women will be on-board US Attack and Ballistic Missile submarines; women are now professional boxers and race car it's nice to see men now dancing, as men, on pointe! Thanks for another great blog!


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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