December 11, 2011

Pointe Pals

Last Friday I took my new pointe shoes to their first ballet class - and I'm happy to say we danced really well together! Looks like I have found my match, because I ended up choosing the exact same model as last time: Bloch Balance European (size 6 XX). My old pair (Odette and Odile) is still in dancing form, but I decided to break in the new shoes - before I would be clobbering around with a pair of Dead Swans on my feet!

Getting ready to take many breaks.

This time I even managed to sew elastics and ribbons in less than two days - my personal record, I might add. Not that it takes that long to sew a total of 8 endings, it's just that I get bored doing it! Good thing I don't have to sew a pair a day.. I suppose I could be less meticulous with my sewing, but my dad taught me not to do things half-assed. Sorry, demi-derriered. I still remember when I sewed my first pair (16 months being such a long time ago). I googled and youtubed for instructions, then sewed and re-sewed about three times. The first elastics were much too narrow, and after I found Bloch's covert elastics - I removed the old and sewed the wider covert in their place. Twice, because sewing them on the inside did not work. So I got a lot of practice with my first pointe shoes already!

Sewing covert elastics at back of heel. Fun.

I have also adapted my breaking-in practice. My first shoes were Bloch Serenades with heat-activated TMT-paste. It was a lot of fun using a hair dryer and refrigerator for molding the box and shank! Unfortunately, Serenade's shank was too stiff for my foot. You really need banana arches for those shoes! My teacher helped me out by cutting a wedge into the outer leather sole, but my arches were still straining to get over the box. Then I switched over to Balance Europeans, and what relief! Pointe work became less about work and more about fun (and work)!

Meet Odette & Odile II, along with new Sansha Pro1 flatties.

With this new pair, Odette & Odile II, I've used the same break-in technique as before, but I softened the shank higher up. It's almost like dancing with a 3/4 shank, except that I haven't cut anything. Well, except for the right shoe's sole. My right foot has less of an instep, so it needs extra help. Whatever works, right? Check out the video below, if you haven't already. I've used Lisa Howell's technique since my first pair of pointe shoes.

Friday I pulled on my ouch-pouches and my gel socks for the big toes, and tied those new shiny ribbons. Cinderella moment! The shanks fit perfectly under the heels and all I had to do was some extra work on the demi-pointe line of the box. There wasn't even any pain or discomfort, other than a slightly squished right pinky toe! Sure, new shoes always feel a bit odd on your feet - but we're already on our way to become best pointe pals. :)


  1. I also had the Serenades once.. didn't work too well either... but mostly because I had like a hundred blisters!
    My favourites are Grishko's Elite! So amazing!

    Good luck with your new besties :)

  2. Thank you, Alina! :)

    If you're wearing Grishko Elite, you probably have short and square toes? No wonder the Serenades didn't work out for you. I'm glad you found your match in the end!

  3. Yes, indeed. I will never set foot in that ballet store again, for that matter.. Those people should know their stuff!

    Another favourite is the Repetto 217, but I think they don't produce them anymore.. at least that's what my Google-research told me!

  4. You would think, wouldn't you? But good fitters are sadly not in every store. I think a lot of dancers find their right shoe by lots of trial and error.. If only pointe shoes were less costly!

    Repetto is focusing more and more on street shoes. I guess that's where the money is. Or so I've heard. Shame about your Repettos!

    Thanks, Alina, for commenting again - it's so nice to share pointe experiences! :)

  5. Hii Johanna!
    I know you haven't had any Grishko shoes, but you know so much about the shoes, I'd like to ask you something! So, I have had Bloch Serenade and Suprima. Serenades far too wide, Suprimas a bit too wide from the box. Also, shanks was really weird for my feet and I had to break the a lot and then both shoes died really fast.. Then I thought I found my match, grishk 2007! Unfortunatelly our journey wasn't so great.. I loved 2007's a lot but the box was far too high and I had to break it quite a lot.. Otherwise it was a great pair for me! So, my question is, do You have any idea what's the difference between Grishko 2007 and Maya? Or other Grishko shoes? I'd like to stick in Grishko (I really loved the shank <3 ) but I have no chance in fitting during the next few months and I really need a new pair!
    You seem to be kind of a foot expert, so my foot is size 39, it's really narrow and I have no arch at all when I stand barefoot. Ankle alignment is fine. I also have quite a strong feet.
    I'll be happy with any advise You can give! THANK YOU! And happy dancing! :)
    And sorry about my english, I know I make a lot of mistakses! :/

  6. @ Eva: check out or!

  7. Hi Eva!

    I'm really no expert - and I would have advised the same as Alina already did. Also check out Rori Roars' blog, she wears Grishkos and has written about fittings as well.

    Having said that, maybe I can offer some advice of my own too. You didn't write what sizes and shank strengths you have worn so far. If you have a low arch, I would try a softer shank - especially with Grishkos!

    If you have short toes, you should wear a lower vamp. Otherwise it's harder, if not impossible, to get over the box. Long toes obviously need a longer box so you won't spill over.

    All models have different widths, but they are not always readily available.. You might have to ask if your shop can order more.

    Grishkos vary from model to model. If you're wearing a certain size with 2007, the same size might not fit you with Maya. Be sure to try before you buy!

    Hope you find your shoe! :)

  8. Oh the search for the perfect shoe...I'm still looking for my pointe prince but dancing with a lot of frogs. I'm getting much better at assessing them, breaking them in, and bending them to my wishes though. It definitely helps to hear what others are doing and experiencing.

    Eva, Grishko 2007s are in my rotation right now too, and like you, I love the shank but the vamps are too high and I have to open them up, cut them down, and resew's quite a project but makes soooo much of a difference. Special orders are possible, but I'm not yet convinced that this is THE shoes and not willing to invest more $. All I can say is read a lot, try a lot of shoes and a lot of fitters (some are definitely more knowledgeable than others), and keep a sense of humor through the trial and error :/

  9. Thank you Kaija for helping out! Grishko's 2007 seems to be the fit-all-shoe - provided you do some tuning. By the way, all of the pros I know (who wear grishko) break and cut the shank under the heel!

    Today I went shoe-shopping with a friend, she asked me to come along and give a second opinion. She has a really narrow foot and long toes that taper. We tried many frogs.. Bloch's Amelie in width X was the only suitable - but the size they had was too short! The shop placed an order, but it will take until beginning of next year. Frustrating.. But it's part of the game!

    I've taken three classes in my own new Blochs, but they still feel somewhat alien on my feet.
    I really missed my old pair! :)

  10. Amen to the alien new shoes feeling! It seems like the initial break-in process just gets you started and then you just have to work and sweat into the shoes to make them bend and conform to your feet and your wishes...and the day that they finally feel really good is both happy and sad because you just *know* that they are going to die the next class :( It seems like there is a perfect peak to the pointes and the climb up is hard on your feet and the slide down is hard on the wallet :)

    (and the geek side of me sometimes thinks this curve has more of a Lorenztian than a Gaussian shape!)

  11. I have Bloch Amelies. :)
    Not sure if I spelled that right.
    They are my first pair though since this is my first year en pointe. I really like it. Also, I have a tip for you: turn your Ouch Pouches inside out. I've done it and so have a few of my friends and it really makes a difference! For some reason it makes it more comfortable.

    Your shoes look so pretty! I sew the elastic on the inside, but I know others sew it on the outside because they say it feels more comfortable. What do you think?

    Thanks for posting!

    ~ Caity

    P.s. Your blog is awesome! I just followed. :)

  12. Hi Caity!

    Bloch Amelies are a really good choice for your first pointe year(s)! Wide platform for solid balancing and a graded shank for easier demi to full pointe roll-through.

    Thanks about the ouch-pouch tip! I turn mine inside out after washing them. But what has made all the difference for me was adding gel tubes for my big toes! You can still feel the floor, but there's less pressure on the top and side of toes.

    With the elastics it's really a matter of personal preference. The covert Bloch elastic I use is scratchy when it's not stretched. And you do not want any extra friction around your heel!

    I've also seen pros use regular elastics sewn on the outside, but those have been mostly for class practice. For performance, you would need a neat looking shoe. Not that I've ever performed in pointe shoes! :D

    Thanks Caity for following - it's really awesome to get new readers and new comments! :)

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  14. Hi Mike!

    Thank you very much for sharing, it is really generous of you! I have permalinked your site on this blog (look under "more ballet") and given you a shout-out on my facebook fan-page.

    Should I ever get to L.A., you'll see me in class!


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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, ...