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Technique (noticed while pointe shoe fitting)


Sheila Beelam
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Hi all :)

More of an observation than anything else :)

Whilst fitting pointe shoes we ask students to stand in first and tendu to second. Only one in about thirty use the floor and fully articulate to second. The rest plonk their foot into second. it isn't a test, it's so I can feel their foot muscles, but very revealing ;)

I know it's not a class, just a request to move to a position in a fitting, but the interesting part is that neither the "articulators" not the "plonkers" realise what they are doing, it's automatic. I always make a pointe of complimenting those that use the floor to get to 2nd, they are, in my opinion, a credit to their teachers.

It's amazing what you learn about a dancer in a pointe shoe fitting!

Sx

Edited by Sheila Beelam
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When I would go to buy pointe shoes, I always loved to watch other people getting fitted.

 

It often amazed me how often the student went for how the shoe made her feet look rather than what was best for her feet.

 

Yes, I am vain, too, but there does have to be a consideration given to reality.

 

I do not have a high arch - but a strong "serviceable" (how I hated that word!) foot.  There was one make of shoe which made my foot look stunningly gorgeous.  YES!  And, my teacher was very pleased.  However, after one class I began to get plantar fascitis - a pain I had never had before.  My teacher said to ignore it - my feet looked wonderful.  Fortunately, I knew enough to throw the shoes out and leave that teacher.

 

What does a fitter do when the student chooses vanity over reality?

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Oh dear, look over comfort in pointe shoes? Not for me!!

 

As a student I wore Chacott shoes which fitted me PERFECTLY and my (also serviceable) feet looked pretty good in them. When I went back to classes a few years later I couldn't find anywhere that stocked them! I knew I could get them shipped but my feet had changed a lot in 10 years so that was no good. I ended up with Bloch which I really didn't like and they went soft more quickly than Chacott but they got me through my Advanced 1 exam and then I stuck them in a bag in a cupboard lol! I came across them a couple of weeks ago and tried one on, SOOOOO painful, I guess my feet have changed again! (Plus I'm out of practice, older and heavier I guess!!)

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When I fit shoes I do so completely away from a mirror until we are down to the final pair or a choice of two equally suitable shoes (fit wise). That way the dancer has to feel if they fit.

 

Then we go to a mirror and there's usually a little gasp as they see how lovely they look!

 

Fitting shoes is such an interesting process!

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Hi Sheila,

 

I think I'm one of those who who 'plonk' their foot in second rather than do a proper tendu when I'm fitted for pointe shoes. Because my feet are not easy to fit, I've usually had to try on a large number of shoes, so I don't want to 'ruin' shoes which are not suitable for me. There's something about shiny new pointe shoes where I don't want to mark the satin, especially if they're shoes I'm not going to buy.

 

I've also heard about dancers whose feet are so bendy they could bend new pointe shoes just by doing a tendu.

 

What would happen if you came across this while you were fitting someone? I'm just curious, it's not that I have feet like that! :)

 

I've had a number of pointe shoes now and have been fitted in different places. So I like to think I can feel, when trying on a pair, if I will be sinking in them. Quite recently I was trying on shoes in a shop with a very young shop assistant. I tried on a pair, which slipped on very easily. Based on just standing in first the assistant's reaction was, 'Oh, they look nice!' I had to explain that my toes did not touch the platform and when testing one foot en pointe I could already feel a sinking feeling. She would have persuaded me that those were the right shoes for me.

Edited by Dancer Sugar Plum
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When I fit shoes I do so completely away from a mirror until we are down to the final pair or a choice of two equally suitable shoes (fit wise). That way the dancer has to feel if they fit.

 

Then we go to a mirror and there's usually a little gasp as they see how lovely they look!

 

Fitting shoes is such an interesting process!

 

 

What do you notice when the dancer rises onto pointe?

 

And do they check the shoes over before even putting them on - there's a great deal to check.

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Sorry sugar plum I didn't mean they tendu in the shoes but before we've even got near a pair of shoes I look at their feet to look for strengths and weaknesses, I get the lm to stand in 1st to see arches and turnout, then tendu so I can feel their feet muscles.

If a dancer was bending the shank too much I would try a harder shank :)

 

Anjuli, do you mean rising in point shoes - very hard without ribbons!! What do you check on the shoe? I guess the obvious is secure stitching, even pleats and platform...what else? X

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Sorry sugar plum I didn't mean they tendu in the shoes but before we've even got near a pair of shoes I look at their feet to look for strengths and weaknesses, I get the lm to stand in 1st to see arches and turnout, then tendu so I can feel their feet muscles.

If a dancer was bending the shank too much I would try a harder shank :)

 

Anjuli, do you mean rising in point shoes - very hard without ribbons!! What do you check on the shoe? I guess the obvious is secure stitching, even pleats and platform...what else? X

 

 

Here's part of an article that has appeared before but answers "what else" I checked:

 

 

 

I always made a habit of having the clerk bring out every pair of shoes in my size (or close to my size) and style.  Every single shoe is different.  I found I could eliminate 50% of them before even trying them on.

 

Line them up in front of you on the floor and just look at them – are the vamps (part of the shoe which covers the faces of the toes) even?

 

Are the platforms (where you stand when on full pointe) bumpy?  The pleating should be as smooth as possible.

 

Do the platforms go straight across or do they angle off to one side?  This will throw the foot off center.

 

Are the shanks (support along the inside bottom of the shoe) already weak or broken  (from other dancers trying them on)?  Look at the bottoms of the shoes and see if there is a line across the sole of the shoe which would indicate a break line in the shank.

 

Are the lasts (the entire length of the shoe) straight?  I could really eliminate many just by checking that – if the last is crooked the shoes will throw your feet off center.  This usually results in the feet rolling in.

 

How about the wings (sides)?  Are they at a flattering yet supportive level height?

 

Is the thickness of the shank correct? Or is there too much of a “step” down between the thickness of the shank and the satin of the heel?

 

Is the sock (inner lining) smooth? A rough or wrinkled sock will abrade your skin.

 

Now take the shoes in your hands and very gently - VERY GENTLY - bend the shank and see how much resistance there is.  There should be resistance.  Otherwise the shank may already be weak either from the way it was manufactured or from other dancers trying them on.

 

When you have the shoes on – make sure you are trying them out on a non-carpeted surface.  Standing on a carpet will make quite a difference.

 

Are the shoes soiled?  That's an indication of prior usage.

 

When you have them on - do they gap anywhere? Are you able to stand on pointe with the entire platform in contact with the floor with your knees straight?

 

 

Switch lefts and rights - see how that feels.  Pointe shoes (slippers too) have no lefts or rights.

 

Check the stitching at the seams and see if it is secure (I had one pair pull apart within 15 minutes of wearing them.)

 

When selecting shoes remember to not only think in size of length but in size of width. Since every pair is constructed differently – sometimes changing one or the other would affect how the shoes fit.

 

Try to get to the shop without walking too much – especially in warm weather.  If you have to walk a great deal this will make your foot swell and will affect the sizing.  Wear the same tights you are going to wear to class.

 

Hope this helps!

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Sorry sugar plum I didn't mean they tendu in the shoes but before we've even got near a pair of shoes I look at their feet to look for strengths and weaknesses, I get the lm to stand in 1st to see arches and turnout, then tendu so I can feel their feet muscles.

If a dancer was bending the shank too much I would try a harder shank :)

 

Sheila - That makes sense, I just misunderstood your post, apologies.

 

 

Here's part of an article that has appeared before but answers "what else" I checked:

 

 

 

I always made a habit of having the clerk bring out every pair of shoes in my size (or close to my size) and style.  Every single shoe is different.  I found I could eliminate 50% of them before even trying them on.

 

Line them up in front of you on the floor and just look at them – are the vamps (part of the shoe which covers the faces of the toes) even?

 

Are the platforms (where you stand when on full pointe) bumpy?  The pleating should be as smooth as possible.

 

Do the platforms go straight across or do they angle off to one side?  This will throw the foot off center.

 

Are the shanks (support along the inside bottom of the shoe) already weak or broken  (from other dancers trying them on)?  Look at the bottoms of the shoes and see if there is a line across the sole of the shoe which would indicate a break line in the shank.

 

Are the lasts (the entire length of the shoe) straight?  I could really eliminate many just by checking that – if the last is crooked the shoes will throw your feet off center.  This usually results in the feet rolling in.

 

How about the wings (sides)?  Are they at a flattering yet supportive level height?

 

Is the thickness of the shank correct? Or is there too much of a “step” down between the thickness of the shank and the satin of the heel?

 

Is the sock (inner lining) smooth? A rough or wrinkled sock will abrade your skin.

 

Now take the shoes in your hands and very gently - VERY GENTLY - bend the shank and see how much resistance there is.  There should be resistance.  Otherwise the shank may already be weak either from the way it was manufactured or from other dancers trying them on.

 

When you have the shoes on – make sure you are trying them out on a non-carpeted surface.  Standing on a carpet will make quite a difference.

 

Are the shoes soiled?  That's an indication of prior usage.

 

When you have them on - do they gap anywhere? Are you able to stand on pointe with the entire platform in contact with the floor with your knees straight?

 

 

Switch lefts and rights - see how that feels.  Pointe shoes (slippers too) have no lefts or rights.

 

Check the stitching at the seams and see if it is secure (I had one pair pull apart within 15 minutes of wearing them.)

 

When selecting shoes remember to not only think in size of length but in size of width. Since every pair is constructed differently – sometimes changing one or the other would affect how the shoes fit.

 

Try to get to the shop without walking too much – especially in warm weather.  If you have to walk a great deal this will make your foot swell and will affect the sizing.  Wear the same tights you are going to wear to class.

 

Hope this helps!

 

Anjuli - this is great advice about checking shoes. Just wondering, did you ever have problems getting the shop assistant to bring out every pair of shoes in your size to check over? It sounds like an excellent idea but I've never tried this before. What would you advise dancers who felt too timid to ask?

 

I think the worry would be if the shop assistant did not understand why I was making the request to check every shoe in my size they had in their shop.

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Sheila - That makes sense, I just misunderstood your post, apologies.

 

 

 

Anjuli - this is great advice about checking shoes. Just wondering, did you ever have problems getting the shop assistant to bring out every pair of shoes in your size to check over? It sounds like an excellent idea but I've never tried this before. What would you advise dancers who felt too timid to ask?

 

I think the worry would be if the shop assistant did not understand why I was making the request to check every shoe in my size they had in their shop.

 

 

I often had problems with pointe shoe fitters but those problems were more about their lack of training.  One just needs to keep in mind that you are the customer.  The customer pays the bills.  As long as one is polite - don't worry about the shop assistant - the key word here is "assistant" - that means "assist the customer."

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