I never fully appreciated the joy of finding a brand of pointe shoes that actually fits your foot shape until last week.
I remember the dark days spent in utter agony wearing Freeds or Bloch shoes, which turned every pointe class into an ordeal. I assumed that was just what pointe was and I pushed through the pain until I could not bear it a single second longer. As it turns out, pointe is uncomfortable but should never be painful. I only wish the fitters had advised me of this back at the beginning.
It wasn't that I wasn't being properly fitted for my shoes, it was just that the fitters were trying to find the best shoes to fit my feet based on the brands they carried. This is far from ideal, especially if your feet are a difficult shape, like mine. Most small dance shops only carry the most popular brands and cater for the most common foot types.
I have now learned that my feet are best suited for Russian made shoes. They tend to favour narrow feet as they best accentuate a long, lean leg. There are of course other brands of shoe which feature very narrow silhouettes but for me the Russian brands, such as Grishko, fit the narrow foot beautifully.
The beauty with Grishko, in particular, is that they have several models which they create on the same 'last'- their most popular model, the 2007. This last forms the basis of several newer models of shoe; 2007 Pro, Nova, Nova Pro and Miracle. I changed from the 2007 Pro to the Nova. The Nova is the best shoe I have ever worn. It's an absolute joy to be en pointe when I'm wearing them. So much so I'm rattling with excitement about going to class tonight!
I know I can buy my usual Grishko size and width in any 2007 based shoe and it will fit. I'm now keen to try their newest shoe, Miracle, which promises an even better pointe experience. I'm also going to have them custom made in canvas rather than satin, as I think it looks better.
Finding a shoe that fits my foot shape has transformed my dancing in ways I never imagined. I am far steadier that I've ever been and even managed a full pirouette last week. By accident rather than design, and it was far from neat and pretty, but it was a huge step forward and in no small part due to the shoe.
One helpful resource I wish had been arround when I began my ballet journey is PointePerfect. Created by an adult recreational dancer, she has extensively researched pointe shoes and foot types and offers helpful diagrams and general advice on pointe and pointe shoes.
As a resource it's incredibly helpful, and even though I know my own feet very well now, I have still found lots of useful info on there. If you are new to pointe I suggest you have a look around this site.