Every dancer has a love/hate relationship with their pointe shoes. Today I will be sharing with you both sides of it after sifting through some of the pointe shoes I have worn over the years. So, here is my pointe shoe journey:
I got my first pointe shoes in late August of 2014 (I was 11 years old). I remember I had watched endless YouTube videos about your first pair. I already knew how to sew them, darn them, prepare them, wear them, and lace up the ribbons. This before I’d even gotten the shoes!
I bet any of you that are just about to get your first pair of pointe shoes or can’t wait for your first pointe class are so excited, too. Just be patient! It will come before you know it.
So, back to that summer of 2014. I spent all my time researching the subject, strengthening my feet, stretching, and preparing for that first pair of pointe shoes.
Finally, the day of the appointment with the fitter came. I remember having taken the day off from classes. I was planning on just wearing a pair of tights under some leggings or something like that, but as I was getting ready, I couldn’t help but put my hair in a bun, sport my brand new Yumiko brand leotard, and throw on my favorite sweater. I felt like a total ballerina.
So, we were now in the store…I had accepted my mom’s better judgement not to get there 20 minutes early – it would just make me even more anxious. What can I say, being early is just my nature!
We sat down for the fitting. My toes were dressed in soft Freed toe pads. The first pair of pointe shoes I ever slipped on were Capezio Glisses.
One thing I remember was closing my eyes as she brought the shoes out of their elegant box. The fitter said, “Ella, you can open your eyes now!” I looked down at the shoes and just gasped. They were so pretty! In a journal entry from that day, I wrote: “They were like satin-covered miracles.”
I thought that my first time standing on pointe would hurt, that it would be excruciating pain…and that my mouth would drop in awe. But, as I stepped up onto the shoes, it felt completely natural. It didn’t hurt too badly – obviously there was some pressure, but it wasn’t horrible pain. I felt “at home” in my pointe shoes. I can tell you now, that is the most important thing.
I ended up trying on two sizes of Capezio Glisses, and we bought the second pair I tried. I was so excited!
CAP: My first pair of pointe shoes – Capezio Glisse.
At the GRB school, our teacher has to check our pointe shoes to make sure they fit properly and work for our feet before we sew on the ribbons and elastic. My shoes were checked at the time of the interim classes that precede the fall season.
Our shoe-sewing class takes place in the summer as well. On my first attempt, I recall being terrible at sewing – it took me about an hour per shoe: very, very time consuming.
Then, fall season began and the year’s regular classes resumed. My first pointe class was on the first day of school. We stayed at the barre the whole time, of course. Relevés and échappés, again and again!
My first pair of pointe shoes had a tragic end to their life. Instead of dying or my growing out of them, they were water damaged. That’s right – I dumped my water bottle on my first pair of pointe shoes. What a horrible thing!
My second pair of shoes was also Capezio Glisse. Those lasted until the end of spring season.
CAP: My second pair of pointe shoes – Capezio Glisse.
Summer intensive was on the way…and I was feeling adventurous. I went for another fitting, and I asked to try on Grishkos. I tried on a pair of 2007s. They fit me like a glove – and I was so excited! They looked beautiful on my feet – their classic Russian line was long and lean. They were beautiful shoes.
During that summer I went through a few pairs of shoes. They were all Grishko 2007s. At the time I realized they were giving me bad blisters, although I didn’t think too much of it…yet.
CAP: The 4 pairs of Grishkos I trampled through between summer intensive and fall season.
All through the fall season I continued suffering in my Grishkos. By the beginning of winter season I had had enough. I decided to go back for yet another fitting. This time I bought a pair of Bloch European Balances. At the fitting, I fell in love with the shoes. They were way better than the 2007s.
My first class in them was another story. I hated the shoes – just hated them! I felt guilty that I went through all this trouble and had my mom buy a pair, when I could barely stand taking class in them. Instead of telling my parents that I needed more shoes, I secretly wore my Grishkos for class without telling them. I even jet glued all my older pairs and re-wore them, a class at a time.
CAP: My two pairs of Bloch European Balance pointe shoes.
After about a month of this, I decided that I had had enough. I told my parents my problem, and we went and bought another pair of 2007s. While they were better than the Blochs by a long shot, they were still uncomfortable and made my feet bleed constantly.
Having said that, I went into this recent summer wearing 2007s and I was generally happy with them: I could stand them and I danced decently in the shoes. But then… we began learning Kettentanz by Gerald Arpino in repertoire class. I couldn’t take it any more. The shoes were loud, clunky and uncomfortable.
CAP: The pairs of Grishko 2007s I went through during spring season and the first two weeks of summer intensive 2016.
My one weekend when I came back home after the third week, we made an emergency appointment with my fitter. I reiterated the difficulties with the Grishkos and I walked away with a huge smile on my face. Grishko Novas were the answer!
I only got one pair of shoes (that was all they had in stock), so the shoes died within a week because of the amount I was dancing. However, I pushed through with that one pair. After suffering in my 2007s for one class, I decided that I had had enough of those shoes. I jet-glued those Novas like crazy and haven’t worn another shoe since.
Last weekend, we ordered three pairs of pointe shoes for a box kept at the fitting shop. I will now always have Novas in stock, ready to pick up more when I need them! I’ve finally found my perfect shoe.
CAP: My Grishko Novas (L) compared to 2007s (R).
CAP: My pointe shoe journey. L to R: Capezio Glisse (2), Grishko 2007 (3), Bloch European Balance (7), Grishko 2007 (13), and Grishko Nova (14).
Thanks for reading today’s post! See you Tuesday with another one (or maybe sooner …watch for bonus posts!)
Donate to my summer intensive fund HERE.
Subscribe to my newsletter HERE.
Leave a post request HERE.
Learn more about me HERE.
Follow me on Instagram.
Like my Facebook page.
Follow me on Twitter.
Follow me on Pinterest.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel.