The creativity both resulting from and necessary for the art of dance extends far beyond the dance studio and stage. Paige Mackenzie-Meisner is one of those dancers for whom the creative aspect of dance is realized on and off the stage. Her Instagram [@paiges.pointes.shoes] showcases this creativity and it’s the reason I was compelled to contact her for this article, despite teaching at her studio I had never taught her. One quick browse at her Instagram catches the eye – elaborately themed and decorated with care, she turns old pointe shoes into works of art. As ballet students we have all outgrown, outworn, and outcast our pointe shoes. Mine take up space in my toddler’s room and my step daughter and her friends love to put them on and pretend they know how to use them (as I hold my breath lest they break an ankle).
These sentimentalities are not uniquely mine. My first pair is tattered and one full width size wider than the subsequent pairs – the result of pointe itself. The last pairs have broken shanks and several failed attempts to shellac them into stiffness to squeeze out just ONE more performance. At $120 a pop, these pretty little torture devices hang on my wall as a reminder of the bad ass ballerina I was before arthritis took over my right big toe thusly ending my pointe career along with my high heel wearing endeavours. The basket of old smelly pointe shoes has begged the question more often than the times I’ve moved provinces, cities, and towns: do I really need to keep every pair of old pointe shoes? What will these old trusties serve for me in the future? Well now I’ve found a purpose for at least two pairs – 1 pair for each daughter, uniquely decorated with love by Paige.
This dancing high school student accepts donation pointe shoes and does custom orders for parents, dancers, and even simply for decoration. The idea came to her when her parent’s basement flooded, ruining their Christmas decorations. The first pair she decorated was a themed Christmas topper and her work has evolved from there. Some shoes reflect a seasonal theme, some were gifted to friends and former teachers, and all are an expression of her creativity. Assuming it would take days, maybe weeks to complete these works of art, I was stunned that it only takes Paige a day or two to render old ragged pointe shoes with layers of paint and, according to Paige, the most important part: THE GLITTER! She then adds stencilling details and any decals or gems to finish the look.
In the studio, Paige dances with an elite training programme led by one of the National Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program graduates and created by one the National Ballet of Canada’s former professionals. Paige has had the privilege of working with some of Canada’s most talented choreographers and in our interview Paige neglected to elaborate on her achievements in choreography. One of her teachers highlighted for me that not only has she been recognized and celebrated in various competitions for her choreography but she is choreographing competitive pieces for other students and training as an assistant teacher in her current program. In school Paige is part of a government-supported programme called Junior Achievement that focuses on innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship for high school students. Paige earns ½ a credit for each year she’s involved in the programme. When I asked her if she had any career goals she mentioned interest in pursuing dance, dance teaching, choreography, and creating her own dance programme. Pretty big goals for a 14 year old – then again we’re dealing with a highly motivated and achieving portion of the population. Dancers, no matter their age, are some of the most determined and hardworking individuals I’ve had the pleasure of working with throughout my career in dance, academia, fitness, and rehab.
Paige is no different in that respect, but she stands out for the ways in which she expresses in creativity outside the studio with Paige’s Pointe Shoes. Check her out on Instagram and if you’re so inclined to send her a pair of pointes to customize for your own nostalgia or as a gift then contact her directly at PaigesPointeShoes@gmail.com.
I know you’ll find Paige’s creativity on pointe.