At the weekend I went for my make or break pointe shoe fitting. I went with the hope that Grishko, the shoes I used to wear, would be the answer to my big toe pain issues I've been experiencing for pretty much 2 years.
I spoke to the young fitter and explained my issue and mentioned I'd like to try Grishko again. At first she got me to try Bloch Serenade, but it wasn't very good, then we started trying Grishkos in various sizes and widths. I tried lots of different 2007 variations plus the ProFlex. After easily spending an hour trying on shoes, I got a pair of 2007s. They felt really good in the shop so I was hopeful of having success.
I could never have imagined just how much success I would have. I took class on Monday with them for the first time and basically my life has changed. I had no toe pain at all throughout the hour long class. I was able to commit fully to all the excercises, meaning I vastly improved on everything I tried, so much so the teacher was confused by this dramatic improvement. I even knocked out a couple of (albeit fluke) pirouettes. I explained to our teacher that this was a girl with happy toes. This is what I am capable of doing when my feet are not wracked in pain. It was incredible to feel what lots of dancers must feel. Pointe isn't comfortable, but it most certainly should not be crippling. The Grishkos are great, but honourable mention must go to the young lady who fitted me at Dancewear Edinburgh on Saturday. She was a perfectionist to the end. Even when I tried on shoes I thought were right, she still made me try on more and I ended up with an amazing fitting shoe. Girl done good!
The shoes are very hard, which is what makes the difference. However, I think when I was just started pointe, they were just a little too hard for me which is why I stopped wearing them, but now that my feet are much stronger I need a very hard shoe, especially as I have particularly flexible feet. So my toes are ready for Grishko now.
I was a little vexed by the much smaller platform initially, but I need not have worried. The box on these shoes is perfectly flat, compared to other shoes which tend to have a slight curve, and this means balancing is actually much easier, in spite of the smaller platform. I was able to stand in retire with no barre!
I've never been happier. Hopefully they won't soften up too quickly as they success of these definitely depends on their hardness for me.
Pointe shoe fitting is a minefield. Even the most experienced fitters don't always get it right. Some dancers can wait a lifetime to find their right shoe, so I guess my 2 years is nothing.
When researching the shoes for my foot shape, I came across a very valuable website page which explains the types of feet and the shoes which might fit best, written from the writers own personal experience. I've found it incredibly helpful and recommend anyone who is having trouble visit the page to at least get a starting point as to which shoes they should be looking at.
Here are some of the common footshapes we see in ballet class. I have a narrow Egyptian foot with tapered toes.
A further diagram goes on to recommend brand models for each type of box and platform. My foot shape is most suitable for the Russian made shoes it seems.
Vertical Axis = Platform and box shape (The higher on the axis, the rounder the shape.
The lower you go on the axis, the flatter the shape of the box/platform).
Horizontal Axis = Box shape viewed from above (The left is tapered, the right side is square).
It doesn't show every brand or model, but it certainly touches on the main ones and it does reflect my own experiences with various shoes. Again, it is just someone's personal experience but it serves as guide to begin to sift through the many brands and models there are out there.