Monday, October 4, 2010

Ballet Shoes

My Mom took my pudgy hand in hers, our fingers laced, as she walked me down the wooden stairs of the stone church in St. Matthews to a large studio awhirl with cotton candy swirls. Mirrors framed the room's perimeter creating silvery-taupe reflections of the polished wooden floor.

An upright piano stood solitary along the back wall. A woman with grey-blue hair tied delicately in a bun tinkled the ivories while little girls in black leotards and pink tights giggled as they twirled and slid gleefully.

My steps were careful. One pink Capezio slipper in front of the other. My tummy filled with butterflies and magic. My first ballet lesson was about to begin. I was three.

Rooted deep within my being is an adoration of all shoes ballet. Not the toe shoes with pink ribbons encircling the turn of an ankle tied in a bow at the curve of a calf. From a prior life perhaps, when pirouetting en pointe was part of my daily regimen in the gaiety of 19th century Parisian courtier.

I simply adore the graceful turn of a skimmer flat. The way it sits on the foot framing its shape, toe cleavage peaking shyly at the curvature of the last.

Through the decades I have always worn some variety of the delicate flat in a multitude of colors. Textures. Embellishments. Accoutrements.

Black patent Capezio (but of course) skimmer flats with mother of pearl buttons accessorized my frilly, hand-smocked 1950s birthday party dresses fanning tutu-like over ruffled crinoline slips.

As a French student abroad in the mid to late 1960s, I purchased a half dozen assortment for 21 francs au Printemps in Paris. $4.20 a pair.

In college I paired the ballet flat with my black velvet bell bottom pants sliding effortlessly across whatever dance floor, or not, I found myself on.

Today, some fifty plus years later, my closet is filled with ballet flats. Mostly all are black: suede, patent, leather, velvet, silk, metallic, lizard. Some adorned with a small bow or a gold doo-dad. Most naked.

I wear them everywhere. Even my bedroom slippers are pink kid Capezio ballet dance shoes sans elastic strap. Replaced, mais bien sûr, when tattered.

Audrey Hepburn chic. Skinny capris and a cigarette holder held limp in an arched wrist. I so enjoy the balance they bring to my gait. A stroll. A glide. Charm. Grace.

I will never apologize for my love of ballet flats. Jamais.

All of life should be so harmonious. Cheers!


  1. It was a sad day that saw my graduation from ballet flats to sturdy, good-for-old-feet shoes. Nice tribute to those lovely slippers.

  2. I have never managed with ballet flats. I need something to keep me aloft. I think I have high arches. Or fussy feet.