Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Pointe Shoe Series: How I Break In My Pointe Shoes + Q&A

     Hey everyone! I hope you all are having a good week.  I'm still working, as always, which is good because knowingly, I'll need the money for two of my sisters weddings next year.
     Today, I thought I would share with you how I prepare my pointe shoes for class. Everyone has different ways of breaking in pointe shoes and by all means, this is just my custom way of doing it. You're free to use whatever from this you want.
First of all, determining what food type you have is very important when choosing a pair of pointe shoes. I wear Bloch Serenade pointe shoes. I’ve worn this style since starting pointe in 2012 and I am in love with them. They are definitely my perfect brand/style. Which brings me to my first topic. What kind of feet do you have and what brand of pointe shoes will work for me?
Everyone has a different foot type. Someone may have the Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Germanic, Celtic feet type as seen here in the diagram below.

Each brand of pointe shoes were designed for a specific foot type as well as how high your arches are. I have Egyptian tapered style feet (see style 1) and very high arches. That being said, with my type of feet, Bloch worked best on me when I first started dancing. I now wear Capezio Tendu II while I wait on my pair of Russian Rubins.
Because of my high arches I need a low vamp in order to rise on to pointe fully. The downfall of a low vamp is sometimes it looks like my foot is falling out of my shoe so sometimes I have to sew elastic above the vamp to prevent my foot from falling out.
Once you determine what foot type you have as well as how high your arches are (low, medium or high) you can do a simple google search to find out what brand/style may work for you. (Obviously you should listen to the pointe shoe fitter when you’re getting fitted).
     An example of a google search would be, “Pointe shoes for an Egyptian tapered foot and high arches"
After you’ve got your pair of pointe shoes you want to break them in. Most teachers tell you that simple releves and barre work will break them in but that is not true at all. Doing it that way will take months up on months. Plus literally dancing in pointe shoes that aren’t broken  in is a recipe for a career ending injury. Click here to see how I break in my pointe shoes.
I also smack the box against a wall (I have a dent in the wall as proof) to soften the box so it isn’t so loud when I dance. I also step on the vamp to soften it. Both of these things are mainly for advanced dancers so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Next comes the part all dancers dread...sewing you pointe shoes. There are many different ways to sew your pointe shoes as well as different ways to sew on your ribbons and elastic. Click here to see how I sew my pointe shoes.

So this pretty much sums up how I prepare my pointe shoes. Now on to the Q&A portion of this post.

1. What the hell is darning for? 
When you wear a pair of pointe shoes for a while the satin on the box begins to shred and peel off. Underneath the satin is canvas. The canvas can get really dirty and soft after awhile. Darning helps extend the life of pointe shoes by sewing crochet string around the box over the canvas. It also will made the box flat again because sometimes the box can get dents in it from dancing in it so much. Darning isn’t super common anymore.

2. Are there different ways of sewing them?
Yes, there are many different ways to sew them. Check the video link above to see how I sew my shoes. (Tip: You need to use really strong thread to sew pointe shoes properly. Otherwise the ribbons and elastics will begin to come undone and it’s a pain in the ass to resew them).

3. I already have bunions will that hinder fitting?
Not necessarily. You’ll probably just have to get a shoe with a wide box. There are ways of making the box wider as seen in this video 

4. What should I do to decrease pain?
Essentially, there is no “cure” for pain of dancing on pointe. Wearing toe pads will help tremendously. Click here to learn about different kinds of padding.  I love the lamb’s wool toe pads, but the sad part is they wear out pretty quickly (about 3 or 4 months). I do not recommend ouch pouches because it hurts so much. Also you can use bandaids, micro-foam tape or masking tape (it works so well) to individually wrap toes that need extra protection. You’ll know where you need extra protection after a class or two.

5. I have no idea what kind of padding I'll want and I know you're supposed to wear padding to a fitting. So what do I do?
Don’t worry about this. The store you go to get fitted will have padding for you. 

6. What do you wear to a fitting? Tights?
You can wear tights if you wish but normally ballet stores will have cut-off old tights for you to use when getting fitted.

7. What if you have one foot that's bigger than the other?
Normally everyone has a foot that’s bigger than the other. If there’s an obvious difference in foot size, you’ll probably have to buy two pairs of pointe shoes in different sizes.

8. Is there a way to decrease pain from the bunion? Or is it one of those "grit your teeth and deal" kinda thing?
The only real way to decrease pain for bunions is to wear a toe spacer between your first and second toes. Surgery isn’t a good idea unless your bunion is really bad because you lose mobility in your big toe joint and the recovery period is almost a year.

8. My  toes are really tapered and my second toe is bigger than my big toe. What's that gonna mean about how the shoes fit?
You most likely have the Greek or Celtic foot style. It won’t really hinder the way the shoes fit. There is a brand of pointe shoes for your foot type. The pointe shoe fitter will be able to determine that.

10. Is the best way to break them in just through wearing them?
Nope. Wearing them helps but there are many manual ways to break them in. See the video I mentioned earlier to see the fastest and safest way to break in pointe shoes.

So that is it for this post. I hope you all enjoyed it! As always please give this post a +1 if you have a Google+ account, follow me on all my social media accounts and share it with your friends.

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