February 13, 2011

New Pointes - No Match Made in Heaven. Yet.

After my old pointe shoes died on me last week, I did an emergency visit to the shop the very next day. I was lucky enough to have a teacher friend in tow, who conveniently happened to be about town the very same day. Always helps to have your own expert back-up. Especially as the one professional fitter is only available on week-days. So when the shop´s sales girl handed me the shoes, my expert witness took hold of them first, and only after careful inspection handed them back over to me. Pretty awesome, don´t you think? I mean who does not love to get the v.i.p. treatment? 

Unfortunately the selection of shoes could still not be helped. The models I would like to have tried were all absent. My metatarsals are wide-ish, but my short toes only somewhat tapered - meaning that my foot sinks down in a too-square box like Grishko´s Elite. Combine that with a low-ish arch (more so on the right foot), and choices narrow rapidly. I would love to try out Primasoft Pointes, especially the Prima Russe. They seem to have more choices for short toes anyway. Sadly they are not available here. Anyone out there have experience with these?

We finally settled on Bloch Serenade TMT31, as they at least allowed me to go up without sinking down. And because of the TMT shank and box, they are more easy to mold in shape. Back home, I used the hairdryer for heat, and the fridge for cold (as per instructions), and it really worked. Although the shank is still too hard and the vamp just a little bit too high. My teacher friend told me not to let my pointe teacher break the shanks, and I should let my feet do the work. Also, professionals can afford to break in four pairs a day, whereas I´m lucky if I can afford as much in a year! Unlike Megan Fairchild, principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, who in this video demonstrates the importance of The Perfect Fit. She also wears a different pair for rehearsals, class and performances. It´s scary to think that pointe shoes can die in the middle of a performance! Ouch!

However, after struggling in Madame´s pointe class I did ask her if she happened to have her carpet-cutter handy, and she promptly offered to snap my shoes. But I must have looked too apprehensive to Madame, because she told me to do the footwork anyway. Come to think of it, I´m not sure TMT shanks can be three-quartered like a traditional paste shoe..? I know that first times in new shoes are hard on everyone, and that the burning hot coals under my feet must have been the result of still-too-snug shoes. Still, when I filmed myself (back home, with laptop cam) doing relevés in seconde, it was not a pretty sight! 
I wonder which sauce goes with pointe shoes..
We will see if I can still improve my relationship with my new Serenades. After all, we have had only one real date so far. It is still too soon for the "let´s just be friends -talk". If we don´t get along after the third time, we can call it quits. And come next pay-check, I will check out another shop I just discovered. They do not employ a professional fitter, but carry the models I would like to try: Bloch Heritage, B-Morph and Balance European. Maybe there will be a match yet that is at least a little closer to heaven!


  1. I think Bloch Heritage is better for longer toes, isn't it? But it's worth a shot anyway, I've found that you shouldn't take too literally the descriptions for pointes. For me some shoes work in reality even though on paper (Internet) it says that the model is meant for a bit different kind of feet. Well, maybe I've misinterpreted the type of my feet, but anyway, keep searching, there are so many models available that there should be something for you too :)

  2. What kind/brand of shoe do you wear? Do you have different shoes for class/performance?

    You must be right about those descriptions not always matching reality - I will be sure to try shoes that are not on my list!

    Thank you for sharing :)

  3. Actually in my last fitting I was told I'm lucky to have the kind of feet that can wear many shoes with moderate box (sorry, you probably would'nt have wanted to hear that...). Or maybe the fitter was not that professional, idk.

    I think I have "peasant" type of feet, i.e. the three first toes are almost the same length, so the area for balancing is quite large and I'm lucky to be able to use many toes in balancing (I don't know if that makes any sense, but maybe you can grab what I mean).

    I don't perform, so I don't have different shoes for performance :) But I do use different shoes for barre and center, as I think most of us do (softer shoes for barre).

  4. Hi Johanna, I just wanted to say that your blog is brilliant, absolutely brilliant- I love it! Every word you have written and the links that you have posted perfectly mirror my own experiences and previous Internet searches of all things to do with Ballet! Actually, I just wanted to ask your advice on something, I am struggling to find any information on customising my pointe shoes., for example do you know what koonking is and I would do it? Keep the words flowing along with your fouettes, Tarryn (31 year old Ballet Obsessive in the UK) x

  5. Hi Tarryn!

    Thanks for your lovely feedback :) Now you have me feeling quite chuffed with myself.. I used to look all over the internet for ballet stuff that I could relate to, and I did find many terrific blogs and sites. But then I thought, no one is writing from my pointe of view, and that I might have something to share..

    Now, "koonking" pointe shoes? The word was new to me - I had to do some googling, but the practice is not. It basically means you bend the shank closer to the heel for support. You might even want to take the upper nail out to do this. But you have to start high, otherwise no good.

    We did something similar with my pointes, that is my fab teacher showed me the how-to:

    Ready, Set, Bourré

  6. Hi Johnanna,

    Thank you so much for your help with that, I will try it as soon as my shoes have dried (I have been cleaning them with baking powder and bicarbonate of soda paste today- an effective and good tip to share by the way)!

    I just have to tell you that I went to see 'Cleopatra' which is a brand new ballet by Northern Ballet this week and the choreography, dancers, set, orchestra and costumes were sublime and of course we have been spolit here in the UK with a new three part documentary called Agony and Ectasy: A Year At English National Ballet. It was superb but required copius quantities of tissues as you can imagine!

    I also managed to acquire Daria Klimentova's signature (English National Ballets Principle). She is a lovely person and beautiful dancer and she is also 38 so there you go- there is hope for us older dancers yet!

    I am looking forward to your next instalment, in fact, your blog is so good, have
    you ever thought about publishing a book or e-book? I would definitely buy it!

    Well that's it for now, sorry for the lengthy response!Live Laugh Love Dance as they say, Tarryn :)

  7. Hi!

    Thanks for sharing that tip :) And wow.. Daria Klimentova.. I´ve seen some of her dancing, sadly only bits on youtube. Where did you get her signature? Old (but not smelly) pointe shoes would be great for signing :)

    Sometimes I think, am I too old for this? Pros are already retiring at my age.. But I always come quickly to my senses! Professionals have such a grueling schedule with morning classes, rehearsals and performances. 20 years of that cannot be compared with recreational ballet. Even when I have been taking classes 5-6 times weekly. For me and you, it´s all about challenging us and having fun at the same time. We get to enjoy ballet as an art-form without the stress of always having to perform 100% and making a living out of it!

    You´re really sweet, but I don´t think I could go beyond blogging. I´m too much of a perfectionist for that :) Blogging allows you more freedom, and I´m not too embarrassed to post less than perfect text! Also, I like to share freely. Dancers need their money for classes and pointe shoes!

    BTW, lengthy responses are totally fine :) Dance on!

  8. Finding the right shoes is such a trial and I feel your pain with the shops not carrying the particular combination of width-shank hardness-vamp etc. that you really want. I've been through a couple of "learning experiences" (as in 'experience is what you get when you didn't get what you want") and have settled (for now) on Grisko 2007s. I have wide metatarsals, narrow heels, and very tapered toes, so it's been hard to find a shoe where I don't sink into the box and have all my weight on my big toe (too square) or have too much pressure on the 4th and 5th toe (too tapered, not the right shape of taper).

    I also want to try more Russian Pointe shoes, but the stores near me have such a limited selection. A dream trip to me would be visiting one of their flagship boutique stores like the one in Chicago in the US :)


To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...