Oh the drama! Oh the stress! Oh the expense! Which leads to more stress! Oh the feeling of not being able to dance to the best of your ability which once again leads to even more stress! Such is life when you’re on a “trying new pointe shoes” adventure. If you’ve read my previous blog posts you’ll know that my feet changed size after wearing a shoe for many years, and then I’ve been on a pointe shoe bender trying all sorts of different brands. Now somewhere in this forgotten timeline of visiting dance stores, I went to the Grishko boutique in Manhattan. I spoke with the ever knowledgeable Judy regarding the 1737 Katya that I had fallen in love with, and she was super interested to see the shoe in person. She told me it was a cheap copy of Grishkos and that each section, the toe, heel, etc was modeled off a different Grishko model shoe. Well that’s all fine and dandy, but it worked GREAT for me! So I told her I had emailed Grishko World, and they had told me the closest shoe was the Maya 1 plus padding in the toe. So I requested to try on the Maya, which she told me I wouldn’t like. She was right! (But more on this later! A gal can always change her mind!!!) While there I also tried on the Elite, just to try, assuming the toe would be broader than what I was searching for, which it was. Then I tried on a new shoe called the Allure. (I’ve come to find out this is the American name for what the Grishko World site is calling the Dream 2007) It was so pretty! Supportive in the toe and box area and three quarter shank. So I purchased a pair, 5 XXX MF. I was excited to try a new model of Grishko! I sewed them, darned them, and put them on to try at the barre while teaching my beginning pointe dancers. This allows me to occasionally break in shoes and more importantly let’s my students see how it is done en pointe. Sometimes much easier to just demonstrate rather than try to describe or explain. So within two minutes I was in pain, like a lot of pain. Not like, oh I’m trying a new shoe and it will feel different, but actual pain. My big toe joints on both feet were on fire! Like my big toe felt like it was knuckling and then that top was hitting the top of the shoe. I’ve since decided that the shoe must be too tall, like the depth from bottom of foot to top of foot was not working for me. Literally wore these Allure shoes for 4 minutes, and into the pile of pretty much new/worn for 5 minutes discarded pointe shoes. Want a deal on some pointe shoes? Grab a pair that I tried very briefly here!! Mention the blog and I’ll be certain to give you a discount.
Which brings us to mid May, when I had an appointment at Pirouette in Huntington to once again be fit by Stephanie. I knew from the moment I walked in the door that I had made the right move! She greeted me and was more than ready to help me try lots of different options. She brought out the Grishko Novas for me to try again, and they actually looked quite nice! Makes me wonder why I thought I didn’t like them the last time she fit me in them a year ago. (Maybe I should give them a whirl again?!) She brought so many things for me to try I couldn’t even keep up and don’t remember all the names and models. This was great! There were for sure some Blochs, some of the new space age stretchy split sole Blochs and a few different models of Capezio and Gaynors just as a comparison. And of course Russian Pointes, in different models. She, like me, thought that the Rubin would be a good match but was unfortunately out of them in my size range, it’s a pretty common size, and was getting them back into stock soon. She agreed to call me to let me know when they arrive and I will go try them. I was anxiously waiting for this moment! She had one pair of Russian Pointe Almaz shoes in MY size kicking around. They were a 37.5, w4, v2 MF. And they looked quite nice on my feet, and were reasonably comfortable especially with my wing insert. So I took those in case I needed shoes for upcoming rehearsals. She really hooked this gal up!! I mean seriously, first Stephanie lets me try on like half the store, and then she is so understanding of the fact that I have a “type” of shoe I like and doesn’t suggest other things, and then she sends me off with the Almaz pair to try! (“So you can use them as an experiment to see how you’ll want to bend and break in the Rubins when they come in your size”). So come back for next post and I’ll tell you how I liked the Rubins!!
If you’ve been reading my previous blog posts you have a little idea of my frustration and disappointment and continued expensive experience with pointe shoes. In this continuing pointe shoe saga of trying to find the perfect pair of shoes, first after my feet changing size, and then after finding *the ones*, wearing for a few months, and having them then be discontinued I have felt helpless. It’s a horrible feeling. You know you can dance better, hate blaming it on your shoes, but when your pointe shoes don’t fit correctly you really can’t do anything properly. Every relevé feels scary and every pirouette feels life threatening. And inside you feel like you don’t want to make excuses for yourself but at the same time the shoes are just not helping you dance, in fact they may be hindering, holding me back, or just downright dangerous.
So moving right along, (timeframe puts us roughly in June, but it’s been a whirlwind so I’m not one hundred percent sure about dates) I went to Onstage Dancewear and was fit by Ariel. I told her I was looking to try on Russian Pointes in different models but specifically the Rubins because I suspected they would be the closest match for my feet. She was happy to help and had me try on one pair of Rubins, apparently they were out of stock of other sizes in that model so we moved on to other models of Russian Pointes. She moved quickly through a lot of shoes for me to try on, so I didn’t get a chance to keep track of each model and size I tried on. Eventually she brought out a new model of Suffolk shoes called the Sonnet. Keep in mind when you’re trying on shoes you’re basically only on flat, or you’ve stepped onto pointe, not a lot of roll through action happening because there’s no ribbons or elastics. As we began to narrow down the options I tried shoes with my traditional quarter of a (Sonnet photoo below!) dish towel as padding (see photo above!), with the dish towel as well as a wing insert, and as a last resort with the Pro pads (only padding on top, not below toes) I had picked up somewhere along this journey. It came down to being between two shoes, a Russian Pointe in a model and size I did not catch (they aren’t too keen on verbalizing that I assume so you will come back to their store to purchase) and the Sonnet in a 5X wearing the toe pads. The Russian Pointes felt like “home” and much more familiar to me, but me feet look extra amazing in the Sonnets. Like ba-bam overly archy (which they are not!) so I decided since I was trying something new, I would really try something new and purchased the Sonnets. I was excited and sewed them right away. I also darned them since that is what I have been doing for years and didn’t want to change too much in terms of how my shoes slide over the floor. I really feel like darning gives you a bit more grip and somehow makes your shoes last longer. So when the time came to try them in class I was excited, but also told myself to be careful since they were such a new and different situation. And boy was I surprised when I could barely get en pointe!!! Like literally not all the way onto the flat toe part. It was such a crushing moment because I was so ready for the Sonnets to be my new favorite shoe. I felt so betrayed by my own body. But I had promised Ariel and myself that I would give them a two week trial. I knew from the first class (I think I wore them at barre, and knew by fondus) they weren’t going to be a match but I made myself wear them to rehearsals during that two week period and tried my best to give them a fair shot. I tried bending them to allow myself more fully over the box. But no matter what i did, they just kept me so far back. By the end of the week I was counting down the hours of rehearsal left till they were done! Stay tuned as I next try wearing Russian Pointes, Sanshas, and more!!!
So in the last blog post we discovered my happiness with the Katya pointe shoes by 1737 Dance which I can be seen wearing in this photo. So after wearing the Katya pointe shoes I had ordered from Discount Dance in classes and rehearsals in a 5 XX, I realized these were the right shoes for me, but maybe not quite the right size. And so back I go to Discount Dance to order a few other sizes of the Katya. I ended up falling in love with them and wearing them in 4.5 XX Medium shank. Like I really loved these shoes. They were easy to sew, no drawstring 👌, comfortable to darn the tips (yes I darn the tips, that’s another story for another day), easy break in and just felt amazingly supportive in the right places and flexible in the other right places. It was great! I felt like I could dance well and they looked nice on my feet. So they were my shoe! I had “my shoes” again! I wore multiple pairs from my first order in August 2017 until February 2018…. I always kind of knew it might be too good to be true because they weren’t being carried by Grishko in the USA or on the GrishkoShop (Russia) website. But I knew they were clearly made by a Grishko factory, so I wasn’t quite sure how this would all pan out. For those seven months of wearing the 1737 brand I was quite happy. And then the fateful day came when I went on Discount Dance supply and saw the Katya at a ridiculously low sale price. Like stupid cheap. And I knew, just knew, that this was the end of of these shoes. They were discontinued.
Sad, stressed and not looking forward to starting over this pointe shoe adventure I realized I would once again have to try on a billion pairs of shoes to find my new favorite.
First I went through all the shoes I had tried previously that were still kicking around my apartment. Mind you there are shoes from many different brands that I’ve tried in this saga including Grishko Novas, 2007’s, Bloch Axioms, Freed Classics, and Gaynor Minden Sculpted Fit. I decided to be re-fit in Gaynor Mindens; they put me in the same size I had previously bought. Now back story on me and the Gaynors: I had a pair long long ago when I was a kid. And I didn’t really like them but I wanted to make them work since my mom had bought them for me (I told ya it was long ago!). So I wore these shoes to classes and rehearsals, like a lot of Nutcracker rehearsals. And I will never forget this one Saturday late afternoon rehearsal where we didn’t have time to change shoes so I just kept dancing in these horribly uncomfortable Gaynors. My feet kept feeling wet but I didn’t think too much about it, sweaty dancer feet generally are a little wet. But by the end I kept feeling this like squish squish feeling like walking through wet sand, and when I looked down at my feet there was tiny spots of blood seeping through the satin, all the way through to the outside. Turns out I had made horrendous blisters that opened and oozed. Well then like a young dumb idiot I just kept dancing in these shoes and by the following week had landed myself right in a doctors office with very infected blisters which were so bad the nurse said she had never seen anything quite like it! So needless to say I was a bit trepidatious about trying Gaynors again.
But I really tried to make them work. I wore them to class a number of times and tried to wear them in multiple rehearsals. I always felt like they were too long, like I was tripping over the end of the shoe. Sort of like when you wear a really heavy duty sneaker and it’s just a lot more shoe than you are used to wearing you’re not quite sure how to maneuver. The final straw was when I put them on in a rehearsal and both my director and fellow dancers burst out laughing because of how my feet looked in them. (“Like an ice cream cone 🍦 with your foot spilling over the top!”) That was disheartening, not that they made me feel bad, just that it made it really hit home that this would be a long (and very expensive) process of finding a new pointe shoe…..
The Dream pointe shoe, or nightmare as it turned out…..In my last post I mentioned a shoe called the Dream which was being promoted on the Grishko World site. Mind you as I’ve also mentioned in a previous blog post, this is not the same as Grishko who sells in the USA. Meanwhile I’m still wearing the 4.5 XXX Grishko 2007 but not loving it, when I notice 1737 a “new” company and their shoes show up on Discount Dance: The Legend, The Dream, and the Katya. I knew this must be some offshoot of Grishko World but wanted to give them a try. Here’s a great video comparing the 2007 to the Legend. I also knew that this was “risky business” since they were selling a shoe (Dream) that I was told in no uncertain terms, by Judy at the Grishko boutique, would not be sold in this country. So I knew if I fell in love with one of these 1737 shoes they might not be around forever (foreshadowing!!) since the whole set up seemed a bit dicey.
So big amazing props to Discount Dance and their ability to ship in a timely manner and most importantly the ability to return items! I ordered The Legend, The Dream, and the Katya in a variety of sizes (three sizes for each model!) since I couldn’t try them on in person and had no idea how their sizing would be. I very very carefully unwrapped each pair of shoes with freshly washed hands, and tried on the shoes only gently stepping onto pointe on a clean towel on the floor to keep the toes clean. First I tried on each size of The Dream. I could tell from the first pair this probably wasn’t the shoe for me. Tried on the other two and carefully rewrapped them and placed them in the box to return. Heart beating quickly and a little bit of stress sweat beginning to happen I begin the same process with The Legend. It was almost a match, but of course you want your pointe shoes to be Great, not just ok. Now I shakily began this process with the Katya. First shoe I tried I thought “hmmm, these are quite nice, but not the right size.” Next shoe I thought “omg, I have found my new favorite shoes! But also still not the right size” I was like Goldilocks here folks! The first one was too big, the next one was to small, and the third one: was Just Right!
Oh happy day!!!!
(I happily sent back the other shoes to Discount Dance and was incredibly grateful to receive my refund once the return was processed) This saga will continue because remember; foreshadowing!
screen capture from a Boomerang so not a perfect shot!
Welp it’s my first blog post. And it’s a doozy. What do you do when the pointe shoes you have worn for years all of a sudden don’t fit your feet anymore?! This is a long story which spans from the beginning spring of 2016 until currently. Let’s start at the beginning, I had worn Grishko 2007’s in size 4.5 XX for years and years. I liked how they fit, they felt supportive in the right places for my feet, pliable in the arch were I wanted and worked with my foot shape. My foot shape is medium to sort of wide across the ball of the foot, narrowed heel and the kicker: short stubby toes that decrease in size fairly dramatically. Like my baby toe is soooo short compared to my big toe that when I’m on demi- pointe my baby toe doesn’t touch the floor at all, it’s too short!
I prefer a tapered pointe shoe with a strong box and a medium shank so the 2007 was a reasonable choice.
Ok, so by the end of 2015 my feet were apparently growing or more swollen from dancing more and my regular size had become too small. Obvious first option was to try one size bigger, so I opted for one size wider, 4.5 XXX. It was ok. As in I didn’t feel as supported and generally just didn’t love it. I felt like I could dance better before in the narrower shoe and so I wanted to branch out and try new things.
So the expensive adventure began of going around NYC to different dance wear stores and trying different pointe shoes, buying them, wearing for part of a class and deciding they weren’t the right fit for me. First obvious thing to try was other models of Grishkos. One day before teaching I went to Pirouette in Huntington, Long Island and was fit by the super knowledgeable Stephanie. She’s smart, funny, full of info about different pointe shoe brands and styles and most importantly very willing to work with me to try on lots of different stuff. She also understands that I have been dancing for a long time, I like what I like, I like my shoes to feel a certain way and she’s super helpful in trying to find something that fits all of that!! I had a blast! I tried on Gaynors, Merlets, Capezio, and ended up in a Grishko Nova. This was about a year ago and I really wish I’d been writing about it at the time, because now I can’t remember why I ended not loving the Nova. For some reason (completely unknown to me now) I ended deciding to continue this pointe shoe adventure. During this time period I also tried Bloch Axioms (in two different sizes), Freed Classics and Gaynor Minden Sculpted Fit.
I kept stalking the Grishko World website (who technically are not supposed to be selling in the United States, that’s a different distributor) and to scope out their new shoes and saw something called the Dream. I eventually went into the Grishko boutique to ask about it and was told it won’t be sold in the US……That gives you the back story, and some understanding of how many different things I’ve tried. More about this (mis)adventure coming soon!