I have had quite the journey with my pointe shoes…I have worn Capezios, Grishkos, Bloch, Suffolks, and Freeds; and a handful of different styles within each of them. I count my pointe shoes (to hold me accountable for how many pairs I use…it is a good but painfully guilty exercise), and I am on pair 60. I would say that I don’t have any more than 5 pointe shoes that are exactly the same.
Anyways, last January or February a Freed of London pointe shoe fitter came to my ballet school (for those of you that are familiar with the herd of Freed fitters, it was Marie Johannson), and I got a pair of shoes. I have always admired the acclaimed benefits of Freeds and also the mysterious sensation surrounding the brand, so I was naturally very excited when I got my first Freeds, and it felt almost as if it were my cleansing of all my jumbled pointe shoe history; my days spent sifting through a mess of Grishkos, Capezios, and Blochs were over.
Nevertheless, I hated the Freed pointe shoes I got. I wrote a fumed blog post about it, too (which you can read here.) The shoes died in a single class time (which is unacceptable considering the amount of dancing I do), and I disliked the way they looked and felt.
Looking back on that experience now, I can say that my initial judgement of Freeds was cursory. I needed to spend longer with my shoes, and try out different makers, before I could really make a decision.
Anyways, the fitter returned to Grand Rapids this December for more fittings, and of course I was once again eager to try out more Freeds after my initial disappointment with my original pointe shoes had worn off. After having more bad experiences with other brands like Grishko and Bloch (my Grishkos began to be loud and clunky, and they discontinued my favorite style of Bloch), I was excited to try something new.
At this point, I had also tried on my friend’s pointe shoes very briefly…we both wear the same size, width, and wing block, so it was a fitting match. They fit like a glove, and I was excited to try them out again.
During my fitting I asked for the same maker I had tried on in my friend’s shoes (Club), but they didn’t have them in stock, so I got two different makers: Castle and Neptune. I wore castles first and fell in love…they fit well and I could dance great in them. Neptune wasn’t so great…they hurt a little bit, looked odd and misshapen, and died quickly.
The benefits of this were great for both my feet and my mindset: I got the feel for how proper Freeds should function in class, and I also understood how big of a difference you can create with a change of a maker.
Afterwards, I called Freed requesting either Castles or Clubs, but they didn’t have either, so I went with Qs. After breaking these in and discovering what I needed to do with them to make them perfect (sewing them obscurely, darning, and 1/2 shank), I really found out that I loved Freeds. They were quiet, fit very well, looked beautiful, and I could dance great.
The fourth maker I tried was Wineglass; they looked really pretty but they didn’t function quite so well for my feet. They also died pretty fast.
After all of that trial and error, I have discovered that I love Freeds, and I can’t imagine ever wanting to change out of this brand.