Nothing compares to that magical moment when your teacher says you're ready for your first pair of pointe shoes. We asked four A-list pros to recall the moment they learned they could start pointe.

Angelica Generosa, Pacific Northwest Ballet

"I was 9 years old when I got my first pair of pointe shoes and I couldn't stop smiling. My teacher told me I was the exception to the rule—strong enough to start at that age. It definitely hurt at first, and dancing felt strange. But after a few private sessions with my teacher I got the hang of it and wanted to learn more."

Megan Fairchild, New York City Ballet

"I remember taking such care sewing my first pair of shoes that I needed a whole hour to do it. My school's pointe classes started slowly, with us doing exercises facing the barre for a couple minutes at the end of class. My 'tailor's bunions' (the ones by the pinky toe) popped out in the first week. But I don't remember it being painful, and my body just kind of reshaped to deal with the new stress."

Jeraldine Mendoza, Joffrey Ballet

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"I was 11 when my teacher told me to buy my first pair of pointe shoes. I'm an overachiever, so when I was allowed to take pointe class, I was excited to be at the level of the older dancers whom I admired."

Heather Ogden, The National Ballet of Canada

"Pointe shoes are such a beautiful part of the ballet aesthetic, and when I got my first pair, it felt like a true breakthrough on my path to becoming a ballerina. I remember it wasn't the most comfortable feeling, but I think I was on such a high that I was willing to withstand the pain. It didn't take long to realize that there was a whole new vocabulary of dance that became available once I had my pointe shoes on. I think my first pair lasted me a year. Now I wear through a pair per day!"

A version of this post appeared in the March 2013 issue of Dance Spirit.

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