Greetings, my fellow rogues and bards,
If you will excuse the trail of terrible puns in the title, I’d like to introduce you today to a particularly fine potential tool for the dancing rogue or bard. I am referring, obviously, to the Bloch ‘Aspiration’ pointe shoe. They were the first model of pointe shoe I ever used, and I have only good things to say about them. The photograph below is an ancient one that I took with a terrible phone camera, but it’s the only personal image I have of the shoes in an unused state.
Note how beautifully shiny the satin is. Note how fancifully I have arranged the ribbons and tied the strings in little bows. Note how I carefully took the photo before I stitched in the big, ugly but nicely supportive elastics.
Below is another pair of Aspirations, in their ‘used’ state. As you can see, superficially, they still look alright. I am one obsessive compulsive rogue when it comes to keeping my shoes looking nice – the last thing you want when dancing up a bolstering enchantment or boureeing past an awestruck guard is for the spell to break when they notice your hideous, mangled shoes.
However, you will notice that the ribbons are now a sort of sick, beige colour, the inner lining is a nice sweaty grey and the satin is grungy around the edge of the box. You will probably also have noted the fact that I have written ‘L’ and ‘R’ into my shoes. I can assure you that I do in fact have INT > 10 – this is because I sew my ribbons and elastics, and make any other alterations, while my foot is in the shoe, so the fit is customised. Writing the letters in saves time (and pain) later. Stop snickering!
*Ahem* The tips of the shoes have also fallen victim to many, many tendus:
Although there is a lot of satin that has remained basically prisitne…almost mysteriously so….
Part of this, of course, is the way I used them, and the way they broke for me. I never broke in my shoes by hand – it was by foot! By sheer force of arch (hence all the additional tendus), if you will. At the time, I would have liked to have given them to Grog the Orc and had him pre-mangle them a bit so they were easier to use, but in hindisght I think my foot strength benefited much from the extra work. The shank is, I believe, the hardest one you can commonly get for this model of shoe, and by Corellon, did I know about it while I was breaking them in.
My size is 4E (yes, I have wide feet – all the better to balance on planks laid over trapped dungeon pits with, my dear!), and as you’ve probably seen from previous photos, I use two elastics, criss-crossed over the instep for a bit of extra support. I can’t really show you the way my shoes finally wore out, because it’s deep in the box, just under the ball of my foot. I found I could no longer stay comfortably stable in releve, and when I worked the shoe gently next to my ear, a horrbile crunching could be heard from inside the box. It really was the most terrible grating, crumbling sound, not unlike the noise you get as skeletal archers are dragging themselves from the earth to skewer you with a thousand moldy arrows.
Anyway, how long did they last? Originally, I’d say about a year of on-and-off use. Now, I’d expect significantly less! I’m using a different shoe these days, which I will tell you about later. In the meantime, here is what they look like on the foot of an actual rogue:
Not pictured in the photo above is the amazing position I had to get into to hold the lamp and camera at the level of my foot, which I was trying to put some weight on despite the fact that the shoe is horribly broken in the functional sense. There’s even a little rusty nail sticking through the sole somewhere. Good times.
As a final note, I would like to disclose that I wear the adorably named ‘ouch pouches‘, to try and preserve my toes. My current shoes can be worn without them, but the inside of these Bloch Aspirations was designed with ‘suffering for your art’ in mind. It will take all the skin off your feet if you don’t have some sort of padding (lambswool/foam/enchantment) in there. With ouch pouches, I suffer only the occasional bit of damage to the inner corner of my left big toenail, and yes, I can still ‘feel the floor’. Anyone who tells you that you need to bleed to be a good dancer is not your friend. That said, it may still happen, pointe shoes being what they are!
The verdict: An excellent shoe, especially for rogues new to the art of dancing on their toes. Just one tip – pad your toes a little to truly customise the fit and make them comfortable for you, and don’t listen to anyone who tells you you have to suffer.
The practicalities: Bloch Aspiration pointe shoes cost NZD ~140.00/USD 62.00/GBP 39.95 per pair , and may be acquired at your local dance store (depending which brands they stock), or online at http://www.blochworld.com/ (or your country’s variant of this URL).
Until next time, fellow adventurers, don’t forget to check for traps (especially on the floor, if you’re dancing)!
I am an adventuring rogue, not a mercenary for hire, and as such, all opinions expressed here are my own, based on a genuine fondness for/interest in this product. If you have any queries or suggestions, please do not hesitate to pin your parchment to the board (contact me) at thepaintedrogue [at] gmail [dot] com., or use the contact form provided!