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Pointe shoe choice and fitting at vocational schools


Legseleven
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I'm just being nosy here but was wondering whether vocational schools, particularly lower schools, make arrangements for their pupils to be fitted with pointe shoes or whether pupils and their parents are 'left to it'. I suppose it might depend to some extent on whether a pupil is already en pointe when they arrive at the school? Do they suggest particular makes/ styles for each pupil? Do they allow Gaynor Mindens at all?

 

 

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All White Lodge students are fitted by Freed, however I use the word 'fitted' loosely as my DD said that basically they just quickly looked at the shoe on your foot and said that looks ok and she never had a proper fitting in 5 years at the school. From Year 9 onwards she got fitted locally (usually taking an hour per fitting) and wore Bloch as they suited her feet better and lasted longer than Freed Pointe shoes. Anything other than Freed or Bloch pointe shoes were not allowed at WL.

 

Hope this helps.

LTD

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At Elmhurst they are fitted early ( I think it was the first week) in yr 7 by the ballet teacher and the company/dance shop that supply the uniform. I'm not sure what makes they stock except I know they stock Grishko. If the girls already have pointe shoes when they get there that is ok and ballet teacher just checks them. If you choose to get pointe shoes elsewhere as long as they are a good fit it is not frowned upon. It wasn't officially said to parents but the girls seem to think Gayners are a no no. Don't know if anything was said to them. Best of all from a parents perspective the cost of pointe shoes is included in the MDS (up to that years allowance limit of course) very helpful considering dd is on her second pair since September.

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Thank you Living the Dream, that is fascinating. I had fondly imagined that extreme care would be taken to ensure that the right shoes were worn each and every time to look after students' feet as well as possible. So if a student arrives at WL at 11 wearing, say, Bloch or Grishko shoes, would they be allowed to continue wearing these or would they have to swap to Freeds?

 

It seems so archaic to stick to Freeds for every WL student when I assume that they won't suit everyone (and indeed your daughter swapped to Blochs - as soon as she was allowed to do so?) Do WL allow padding and/or elastics if required?

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Thank you Living the Dream, that is fascinating. I had fondly imagined that extreme care would be taken to ensure that the right shoes were worn each and every time to look after students' feet as well as possible. So if a student arrives at WL at 11 wearing, say, Bloch or Grishko shoes, would they be allowed to continue wearing these or would they have to swap to Freeds?

 

It seems so archaic to stick to Freeds for every WL student when I assume that they won't suit everyone (and indeed your daughter swapped to Blochs - as soon as she was allowed to do so?) Do WL allow padding and/or elastics if required?

Once they have had their first fitting in Year 7, usually within the first month, then they must wear Freed. They have to get permission in Year 9, if they want to wear Bloch. They are not allowed to use anything other than animal wool and from Year 9, they all tend to use heel elastic as they do so much pointed work.

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Interesting.Just wondered,what would happen if a pupil absolutely could not get along with Freeds? Surely WL would have to compromise on their position regarding this make? Or may they see it as a sign for a pupil being unsuitable for pointe work? Because how would they KNOW if a girl might be until she starts pointe work? If she is not given the option of trying other brands that she may be more suited to,it wouldn`t look very good for her long-term prospects at the school would it?

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I agree with Anjuli - I find it rather odd that WL still limit their students to Freeds, especially if the fitting isn't wonderful. If the fittings were ok and the shoes made to individual needs then that's a different matter, but if they are just stock shoes that are tried on and the best fitting out of the bunch given to the student it could be a tough few years until they try a different make.

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I agree anjuli it seems ridiculous! Freed and bloch do not suit everyones feet. The fitting by dancing boutique at elmhurst was speaking to others not a very good experience and did not take very long! Especially for a first pointe shoe several different makes and several different styles of each make should be tried to decide which shoes suit each girls feet best! Dd pointe shoe fitting at local dance shop took easily an hour and she tried on at least 30 different shoes before choosing with the help of lisa the fitter her Grishko pro that she absolutely loves

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Why is this stranglehold on WL students by Freed in place? Such a total monopoly is bizarre. Thinking about it, on both occasions that I have been into the Freed shop I have been informed (without having asked) that they supply all the RBS students (which isn't correct as I now know from Living the Dream) and I took it with a pinch of salt, thinking it just went with the slightly superior attitude displayed by both members of staff I have encountered.

 

Having read with interest the thread discussing the different Freed shoe makers, I started this thread expecting to be told that if Freed did indeed fit all RBS students, then they would be carefully assessed each time and would have their shoes made by the most appropriate maker, if not entirely custom made for their feet. It seems that this is not the case.

 

If WL and Elmhurst aren't taking great care to fit the most appropriate pointe shoes for each individual student, as Living the Dream and Dancemaddad have indicated, it seems ludicrous. Why risk possibly damaging the feet of a carefully selected, talented student, or possibly affecting their confidence if they are dancing in shoes which don't suit their feet?

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Only once has dd had a pair of pointe shoes from the provider in school and that was an emergency pair as she needed some ASAP. I always take her for a proper fitting and have now got into the groove of making sure that she always has 2-3 pairs at her disposal so that we usually have time to make arrangements to go for proper fittings. Dd is already on her 4th pair this term!

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I am surprised that all 11 year olds are measured for pointe shoes as they start vocational school particularly as they often take children on potential who haven't done much ballet before let alone any pointe work. I thought pointe work isn't advised until 13? Or am I misinformed? I can understand that at vocational school they may start earlier than at home dancing but aren't their feet still developing? Or do they just do a tiny bit each day?

And I had freed pointe shoes myself!!!

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My daughter started vocational school in yr 7 in September and needed new pointe shoes at this time. She was fitted by the school's supplier with me present and I was very happy with the way in which the fitter worked. The school shop stocked a range of brands and styles and the only suggestion was that she did not have Grishko ( as both her previous pairs had been) as there was a teacher at the school who did not want yr 7 to have this make, although no reason was offered. She has Bloch and is very pleased with them, even though pointe work is only done in RAD Intermediate class, not in daily class at present. I would be happy for her to be refitted by school's supplier when the time comes.

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My DD's very best friend joined Royal Ballet White Lodge Year 7 last year - her mum told me that only FREED fitted the girls and they spend a long time checking the feet of each girl! However DD's friends feet are perfect bendy bananna feet and so has been given 4 pairs from Freed free to try (new technology) apparently! so she is happy !

 

It's such a long and personal journey to find shoes that fit let alone are comfy! And yes - the girls are only allowed lambs wool as is my dd who has several weekly lessons at her local dance school from a fantastic teacher who is also an RBS Associate teacher, National Youth Ballet Class Mistress and Ex RB Teacher! She watches her girls feet very carefully and recommends as and when ! xx

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I have noticed that is mostly RAD teachers who insist on lambs wool and frown on anything else. My ISTD/Cechetti teachers couldn't care less as long as the dancers are comfortable. Why Freed should have such a strangle hold on the RBS is a mystery to me and strikes me as a very unhealthy attitude.

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I'm sure there is nothing sinister about any vocational school's links with a particular supplier. It is probably just easier and more convenient for the school if they are having them in to fit students and they only have to liaise with one supplier to come into the school, who understands their requirements. Freed has a long-standing association with the Royal Ballet and so that's probably why the school chooses them. (And they are British and made in this country, so a boost to our economy :) ).

I know they are not right for everyone but they are a good quality shoe and in my experience, more of DD's dancing friends get on better with Freed than any other shoe.

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Whilst it is great that the RBS supports a British shoemaker, I cannot fathom why other makes of shoe are not allowed (except for Bloch, albeit only at a certain age and with the school's express permission) if they suit a particular student better. The RBS is a British school but trains students from across the world and those students, whilst all being exceptionally talented and physically suited to ballet, will all perform best in the shoes that suit THEM best.

 

I can't believe that other shoe makers are not prepared to go in to the RBS as Freed do, so it can't just be a matter of convenience for the school; and even if it was, doesn't a vocational school have a duty of care towards its students to ensure that they all have the 'tools of their trade', ie pointe shoes, which are the most suitable for them at that time? My DD's non-vocational teachers are rightly anxious to ensure that their students have careful fittings for each and every pair of pointe shoes as their feet can change significantly and that is for students who for the most part don't aim to dance professionally. For vocational students this is surely absolutely imperative?

Edited by Legseleven
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I can't believe that other shoe makers are not prepared to go in to the RBS as Freed do, so it can't just be a matter of convenience for the school; and even if it was, doesn't a vocational school have a duty of care towards its students to ensure that they all have the 'tools of their trade', ie pointe shoes, which are the most suitable for them at that time?

I would think it would be quite impractical to get several different shoe suppliers in. What would you do - have them all in at the same time, with students flitting between them all to decide which shoes they like best? With 64 girls in the school, that might be quite difficult and having to supervise fittings and coordinate orders etc. might get chaotic.

 

Even if you get a dance retailer in like Elmhust does, which provides several different makes of shoe, it won't be all of them and they won't be able to offer the range and variety for each make that the individual shoe supplier itself does, or the maker specialist knowledge.

 

Therefore as a school, whatever you do won't suit everyone. I should think that if any students are really struggling with their pointe shoe, then it is for them to discuss with the ballet teacher as to their specific problems and whether it might be better to get another make of shoe.

 

I'm not defending them but just trying to be objective and RBS seem to have been turning out pretty good ballet dancers for a few years now, so they can't be getting it all wrong :)

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At my daughters previouse vocational school, her point shoes were never checked and on one occasion she was dancing on a broken shoe. It was her private dance teacher who has not only taught her how to correctly break a pair of point shoes in but also to recognise when her shoes were dead. This school did have people coming in to fit their point shoes but I felt that they did not have enough time to do the job properly. The school did however allow students to shop wherever they wanted and they could wear any make.

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Please could someone with a DD at WL please PM me more info about this eg at what age can the girls ACTUALLY get their shoes from elsewhere, if at all? I have a student there who I'm sure will be fine but I'd like to be able to give her mum the full details in case they're needed!

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Ribbons - possibly - however she does tend to ask me for advice on most things, so it would be good to know others' experiences, especially those a bit further up the school. I don't think she'd mind me saying this on here either but she doesn't have any other DD's and wouldn't class herself as a 'ballet mum' so might not be aware that there are other options if her DD's shoes aren't great. I wouldn't let her go onto pointe before she went away to school so her WL experience is her only experience of pointe work - those kids won't necessarily know that there are other shoes that could be a better fit/less painful/ easier to work in etc so won't necessarily complain about them, especially as part of the ethos of ballet is not to complain about the pain of pointe work!

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