On blistered feet

by Sarah Luna

In my posts about dancing, I failed to mention the only downside–my feet were destroyed! I had bought a pair of Standard shoes at DCDI and had been breaking them in for the past two weeks. As additional protection, I taped up my feet just as if I were about to spar. To no avail. After the first round of practice quickstep, the shoes had rubbed off the skin on the back of my heel, and blisters began to form on my toes. I re-bandaged my feet using both band-aids and sports tape. For good measure, I asked for a pair of nylon cutoffs that the shoe vendors offered and wore those, too.

Now my feet are no strangers to pain. Years of sparring and one pilgrimage later, I’d like to say that my feet are pretty tough.

I tried to compare the pain I felt after dancing to the pain after a Tae Kwon Do tournament. During a tournament, the bottoms of my feet would get torn up by the mat, and the tops would get bruised by elbows and hips and knees. Each kick would send shocks of pain through my instep and ankle and sometimes knee. My feet would be red and purple and raw.

Not to mention along the Camino, I pretty much had to perform minor surgery on my blisters every night.

Dancing in standard shoes, however, is like being subjected to a medieval torture device. Think of Esmeralda’s torture in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. The adrenaline of competing distracted me from the pain, but between rounds, each step was pure agony. I relished the moment I extracted my swollen feet from those shoes. I haven’t worn them since.

Experiencing that magnitude of foot pain once again made me appreciate of what exactly my body is capable. Look at any athlete’s foot, and you’ll see pain. Look at a ballet dancer’s foot. Same story. Athletic beauty via proper form originates from the feet–the foundation.

“In life as in dance, grace glides on blistered feet.” –Alice Abrams

In any area of life, the proper foundation is just as essential. And it gets just as beat up. My academic foundation trembles under the weight of all the unanswered questions. My emotional foundation is about as solid as storm-weathered ship manned with scurvy-ridden sailors. But this pain and exhaustion prove that I’m doing something right. I’m pushing beyond the boundaries of my own abilities. I’m discovering of what I’m capable and then forging ahead to create both physical and intellectual beauty.

I think I can handle a few blisters on my physical foundation. Little bit of tape, little bit of bandaging, and we’re good to go.