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'Breaking in' a pointe shoe


swe
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I am not really 'in the know' about pointe shoes and I have had to rely on dd for all the info. She has been en pointe a couple of years and has very strong feet and has probably had about 7 pairs. The last pair lasted about 5 weeks because she says she thinks they are broken. The are certainly very bendy but I really don't know whether this is 'broken in' What do people mean by this expression? I have heard about squeezing the block between the door etc. but what does this do? I would be frightened to do anything to the shoe for fear of damaging it-especially if the last pair lasted so short a time. This last pair have a hard shank so I am hoping these will last longer-but I wondered how long they would now take to break in..sorry am waffling now.

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Morning Swe,

 

To start with, you need to know what make and model the shoes are, because this will determine how you break them in. I.e. are they new technology, like Gaynors or Bloch thermomorph? Or are they traditionally made using cardboard and leather, and with hessian and glue in the box?

 

Bloch have two different recommended break-in techniques depending on the shoe.

 

Personally, I wouldn't start bashing the box of pointe shoes or shutting them in the door - bad for the doorframe! I only ever needed to squash the box when I was converting an old pair of pointes into soft blocks. I know professionals bash the box but as far as I know this is purely to deaden the noise on stage for performance purposes.

 

All we do with my dd's traditionally made Blochs is:

 

Wear them around the house with 2 pairs of thick socks over the top of the shoes,

Go up and down through quarter, demi, and three quarter pointe,

And follow Lisa Howell's tip for gently breaking in the shank and at the demi-pointe:

 

http://m.youtube.com/?reload=2&rdm=m45tih53q#/watch?v=pX-PNqJr9z4

 

Hope that link works! If it doesn't, search youtube for "Lisa Howell breaking in pointe shoes".

 

Does your dd's teacher approve her pointe shoes when she gets a new pair?

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Hi Spanner

Thanks for the informative reply. I will have a look on the link. Dd's shoes are Grishko 2007 pro-I think they are 'traditionally' made-but not 100% sure.

swe x

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At this stage I would think about 'running' 2 pairs of pointe shoes and alternating them each time she wears them to give them a chance to properly dry out before the next wear. Also check that they are put out to air dry and not left damp in a bag or left with damp ouch pouches in them or anything like that. ;)

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A word of warning - my daughter once decided whilst on a train that her pointe shoes needed breaking in a little more. Before I could think twice, she had walloped the back of the head rest in front of her hard about 3 times, in quick successesion and with extreme violence, without even pausing to consider whether there was anyone seated in front. Luckily there wasn't, but you should have seen the looks on the faces of fellow passengers who up to that point, had presumably only been aware of a demure looking little girl sitting there with hair in a neat bun. They must have thought she had become possessed!

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'breaking in' is the term used in preparing them to be worn in class (eg bending the shank by hand, molding the box etc), 'broken' is the point at which they are too worn out to wear anymore (often the shank has literally snapped).

 

If your daughter is getting through shoes very quickly as she did her last pair I wouldn't let her break them in at all before she wears them. Just doing her barre exercises in class wearing them should do that. If it is the shank (sole of the shoe) that wears out first you might consider getting her a pair with a harder shank so they last longer and give her better support when they start to go. These don't suit everyone though, it depends on how flexible and strong the foot is.

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Breaking in a pointe shoe is not only different for every dancer, and for different makes of shoes, but also for every shoe - since they are all differen too - even within the same pair.

 

I found that wearing a new pair for barre work and then putting on a used pair for center work - did the trick for me. Then the next time they were usually ready for both barre and center.

 

I had some pairs that lasted literally one class - but, then I had a magic pair that lasted 5 months!!

 

Always check with the teacher for her advice on what strength the shank should be. Letting them dry out as mentioned in posts above is great advice - thus, many students have two pairs "going" so that each pair has time to dry out completely. This will help to allow the glue to harden again.

 

It is also a good idea to switch between left/right - this helps to keep the last (alignment) of the shoe in balance. Make a small mark on the inside so you can tell them apart and then switch the next time.

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Hi Spanner

Thanks for the informative reply. I will have a look on the link. Dd's shoes are Grishko 2007 pro-I think they are 'traditionally' made-but not 100% sure.

swe x

 

My dd had a couple of pairs of Grishko 2007 proflex; they are traditionally made but are quite supple in the shank, especially for someone with strong feet. It may be that your dd needs a harder shank.

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I am confused now! I thought that stronger feet needed a harder shank to prevent the shoe breaking so quickly?

 

edited to say

 

Don't worry, now I have re read it, I think that is what you were saying!!

Edited by Jellybeans
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Yep - that's what I meant! :-). I meant that for a person with strong feet, they might want a harder shank than the 2007 proflex, which - if I remember rightly, come in supersoft, soft or medium shank from Dancia.

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My dd did a masterclass pointe day with the Royal Ballet School. They said that the only way to break pointe shoes in, is to use the dancers own feet, afterall isnt the shoe meant to be moulded to the dancers foot. Gentle rises at the barre and as was mentioned earlier, just walking around with the pointe shoes on usually softens them. My dd uses Grishko which are incredibly cheap in Russia (20 pounds) but they dont seem to last very long at all. She is now onto the strongest shank which I believe can only be purchased in Russia (cant remember the name of the style) and even they will only last a couple of days.

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I'm not surprised; the amount of pointe shoes professional dancers get through is amazing. Are Gaynors or Bloch B-Morphs any tougher than traditionally made shoes? Can you even break the shank?

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She does pointe work everyday approx six times per week and sometimes for more than an hour per day, so that adds up to at least fourteen hours per week. She prob does more. Sometimes I am sure that her shoes may last slightly longer but they wont be much longer than a couple of weeks. I know that she went to the Grishko shop on sunday and bought another four pairs of shoes and bought several pairs at Easter when we were visiting her.

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Gaynor mindens last much longer than normal shoes but you need to check with her teacher if she's allowed them first! With that amount of pointe work you definitely need to rotate shoes to let them dry out properly in between, having 3 pairs on the go at the same time and rotating them.

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My DDs wear Gaynor Minden. DD1, who has an amazingly strong feet, used to break her pointe shoes in a couple of weeks and she also hurt herself more than once falling over them... We went to Gaynor Minden, at first reluctantly because they cost twice the price of other pointe shoes in France. But we've never looked back! She can wear them for a few months, using them nearly everyday. She actually outgrew the last pair. And the shank never broke! Really good value for money and even more importantly, no sprain ankle!

And definitely no breaking them in...

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It makes sense... My DDs have heard that criticism before and they say they've got no idea what people mean! DD1 who's sitting beside beside me says they are much more comfortable than the other brands she had, she finds she can move her toes more easily (my DDs don't wear "padding" in their pointe shoes) . The fitting is very precise, you often have to try a few pairs before you get the right one...

DD2 says that, with her old pointes, she felt nails were pushed into her skin when she had blisters and not at all with GM...

On my part, the only downside is they are really hard to sew the ribbons on because of the strength of the material!

Edited by afab
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I've said that dd can try a pair when her feet stop growing and when they are stronger, just to see what they're like. Fortunately she still loves her Blochs though, which are easy to sew!

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I think sometimes if the shank is wearing out/breaking down too quickly it can also be a sign of lazy feet that are relying on the point shoe to do the work for them rather than pulling up out of their shoes. Obviously this doesn't apply to older students like Primrose's daughter where it is just the amount of wear. My DD had one lazy foot for a while and that shoe shank always wore out in half the time of the other one. I had to keep getting the odd less worn shoes together to make new pairs.

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I've said that dd can try a pair when her feet stop growing and when they are stronger, just to see what they're like. Fortunately she still loves her Blochs though, which are easy to sew!

Absolutely - my DD was desperate for some Gaynor Mindens, tried some on in the shop (I had no intention of purchasing but let her have a try, in the hope that she would decide she hated them or something) .... she liked them very much but the sales assistant was very helpful, pointing out that we might like to consider them once we were sure DD's feet had stopped growing. Imagine forking out for a pair, and then after a sudden growth spurt you need to buy the next size up only a few weeks later! That would be nearly over £150 I think.

 

Anyway, she then tried some Grishkos and they were perfect. She doesn't want anything but Grishko now. (but they aren't particularly easy to sew).

Edited by Gingerbread
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For a first shoe, it depends entirely on the foot.

 

Some shoes are marketed as suitable for beginners, but this isn't the case as everyone's feet are different.

 

My dd has a strong high arch and instep, - not 'banana' though, they're not bendy, just curved - and she had to have a strong shank from the start.

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I agree with this. All feet are different, so all first shoes are different. I would say from dd's experience that a nice wide platform is handy for your first shoes - but only if it suits your feet!

 

Plus feet really can change quite a lot during the course of learning pointe - my dd found that after a few months she needed a completely different shape of shoe.

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I tried gaynors but then swapped to capulets and love them! They are similar to gaynors in their length of life and have a special foam padding inside that reacts to impact, so protecting the foot - the result is no padding, pouches or blisters, just a foot and a shoe :)

(but still love my grishko soft blocks!)

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Hi spannerandpony

 

I bought several pairs online to try with my teacher and I got lucky :)

 

Here's the link to the site:

 

http://www.capuletworld.com/capuletstore/index.php?app=gbu0&ns=prodshow&ref=pointed3o

 

There's a stockist locator so you can get fitted in a shop and check with DDs teacher first :))))

 

I've had mine for about 9 months and do pointe 3x week. I bought a new pair for exams last Dec and this April, but as the box isn't traditional construction, I was able to get a soft toothbrush, some washing up liquid and give them a gentle wash - washed ribbons too and they looked like new and just as hard!

 

Sx

 

 

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