Jump to content

What are soft blocks?


Lemongirl
 Share

Recommended Posts

Dd is doing her Intermediate exam soon and has been told she will need soft blocks.  Can someone explain what they are please?  She didn't need them for the IF exam.  Do they wear them all the time instead of soft ballet shoes?  I have heard that Freed's are the best.  Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Soft blocks are basically points shoes without a shank in them, so you can't actually go en pointe in them. They are designed to get young dancers used to the feel of points shoes and also are supposed to strengthen the feet in preparation for pointe work. They are mandatory for the non pointe part of all RAD vocational exams from intermediate onwards. My DD, like most of her friends, dislikes wearing them it must be said and only does so when she has to! But as they must be worn for exams it's as well to make sure a student is used to working in soft blocks well in advance. Like any shoes there is no one "best" for all - what suits one won't suit another and they should be fitted like pointe shoes are. My DD prefers Bloch even though she doesn't wear their pointe shoes, so do try a range of different makes if you can.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Noisy and need breaking in to make them good to dance in. Definitely not a purchase to leave until the last minute. And at any rate I hope you are spared my experience of hitting them with a claw hammer the night before the exam because dd's teacher said they were too clunky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My DD wears Grishko soft blocks which are also called pre points.

 

Apparently she has wide feet (G fitting) but narrow heels and they fit her really well. Same size and fit as her Grishko Pro 2007.

 

I was confused as well as she did not need them for IF but now needs them for Inter. Thought it was a bit in reverse! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks all, that's really helpful.  Dd has narrow feet and likes Bloch for soft shoes.  Will try some different brands though if we can.

 

Exam is in March so I assume that's enough time??

Plenty of time, they don't need breaking in, just ribbons no elastic and NO darning. so all good!   ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DD is doing her Intermediate exam in December, her old soft blocks literally fell apart 2 weeks ago. She was devastated because they had become really comfortable, her news ones are getting there and hopefully will be fine for exam. She is wearing them in all her Intermediate lessons, which is what her dance school expect them to do.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My daughter loved wearing soft blocks and wore them for class as much as possible when she went into the vocational grades. I suppose it's the feeling like they're in pointe shoes like the pros without the pain.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for the helpful advice.  I phoned Freed today and they only stock one style.  Dancia stock Gaynor Minden and Bloch, I thought they might stock other brands.  I'm hoping for not too traipsing round Covent Garden.  May be easier to go to Just Ballet in Southend.....

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure about the one style thing at Freed. We got DD1's soft blocks there earlier this year and she found a fair amount of variety just from the different makers and they also de-shank pointe shoes if that's a better fit.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This seems like an apt point to introduce the concept of Google's "define" command.  If you type "define:xxx" (no spaces, no inverted commas), where xxx is the word you are looking for, into the Google search box it tends to come up with explanations and definitions.  Unfortunately in this case you tend to end up mostly with children's playthings, but if you add "ballet" to the mix it brings up some very useful results :)

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure about the one style thing at Freed. We got DD1's soft blocks there earlier this year and she found a fair amount of variety just from the different makers and they also de-shank pointe shoes if that's a better fit.

Yes, the Freed soft blocks are all hand-made as they are based on the Freed Classic, not Freed Studio. This means that all the Freed Makers produce slightly different shoes. So if one is not 100% comfy, another maker's should be. The Fitter might bring you four or five different pairs in the same size. If you find the perfect soft block, ask the fitter to jot down the details on a card so that you have a starting point next time.

 

In Freed, soft blocks often come up half a size smaller than their pointe shoes.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My DD had to wear them for IF last year (we call them demi-pointes). This year she is wearing old pointe shoes that she has broken the shank on – we removed the shank and squished the box in a door-frame (as demonstrated by her teacher, I should add!). But they all hate them, I think mostly because their feet suddenly look less bendy, plus they can be uncomfortable when you are used to super-soft split-soles!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Been interesting reading this as ISTD IF & Intermediate don't need soft blocks. Both contain pointe work done in pointe shoes (very little in IF, obviously more in intermediate), other work is done in standard soft ballet shoes.

 

Similarly DD has always done ballet classes in soft ballet shoes, and pointe class in pointes. They do introduce pointe very, very gradually, though - it seems odd [to me] to need a specific type of shoe for the transition between one and the other in a different exam board.

 

Those 'in the know' - does the RAD use of soft bocks for the earlier vocational grades have a definite advantage over the use of soft shoes by ISTD for exams of a similar level? Does it make eventual pointe work stronger / better in some way? Or is it the usual case of 'good teaching of sound technique within whatever syllabus is what makes the difference in the end'?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was speaking to DDs teacher the other week about a class that uses demi-pointe and she advocates starting pointe work when strong enough rather than using demi's to transition.  Her concern is that using them as a means to strengthen for pointe can develop unwanted calf muscles.  RAD IF does a small amount of pointe and for Intermediate they do use demis but this is more about begin able to dance on the flat in pointe shoes without being noisey.  She feels that strength training wearing flat soled shoes is the best way for strengthening.  Sorry if I am saying anything controversial - happy to be corrected if I have misunderstood anything.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

My dd has short toes too, and uses Bloch. They aren't great but better than others she's tried which cut into the top of her foot when she rises on demi-pointe. She can't get on with Freed ones, but everybody's feet are different - and I believe that they can be customised so it would be worth trying.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello, I am planning to take my Intermediate exam and am on the look-out for soft blocks with a very low vamp for my short toes. Any recommendations? Thanks so much!

If you can get to Freed in London, their soft blocks are hand-made by the pointe shoe makers. This means that you can try on shoes in the same size but which have all been styled slightly differently. The shop can also send shoes back to the factory to be altered. You also have the advantage of being in Covent Garden with an easy walk to Bloch and Dancia just in case you can't get what you want in Freed.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...