Can I give away my age here? Way back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, most of the pointe students that I knew ( myself included) followed a certain training path that led from wearing soft leather ballet slippers for at least 2 years before graduating directly into hard pointe shoes.
Our toes were not allowed the luxury of ” bridge” pointes; shoes that are made to ease a student into the world of full-fledged pointe shoes. When the teacher said you were ready, you changed out of your comfy-soft slippers into the hard ones and wore them a few minutes per class until you got used to them.
Demi-pointe models are an interesting concept that creates a division of opinion between those in the dance community. You can imagine my curiosity when I found out that Grishko now has 3 different student models that are meant to be worn in succession as though climbing a ladder to reach a pointe shoe pinnacle.
You Begin With The Grishko Exam; A Soft Version Based On The 2007, Vaganova, Fouette And Elite
According to Grishko and the many dance supply companies that offer this model, the design incorporates wide toe boxes and no shank to provide comfort for growing feet. The shoe is meant to be used for ballet exam preparation or pointe practice.
Exam Specs Include:
- Medium u-shaped vamp
- Medium platform
- A soft half-box
- Lower heels and non-slip sole
After Graduating From The Exam, You Move On To The Alice
After you spend enough time wearing the Exam and getting used to a harder toe box, the teacher ( or the Grishko sales department) may say you are ready to begin wearing the training shoe model, Alice.
Grishko recommends wearing this shoe for 3-6 months before attempting real pointe work.
Alice Specs Include:
- A flannel lining
- Machine stitched sole
- 1/2 box shank
- Flexible sole
- Based on the 2007 design
Once You Finish With Alice, You Jump Into The Novice
Finally! We can now get on with the real reason we signed up for ballet classes in the first place; dancing on our toes. The Novice is supposed to be a student’s very first real pointe shoe.
Novice Specs Include:
- Low box design for less toe pressure
- Softer insole for comfort
Do We Really Need All These Stepping Stone Pointes?
This could cause a huge riot in the dance supply world, but the reality is that for hundreds of years most of the world’s artistically perfect dancers never knew what one of these shoe designs were. Dancers made their own demi-pointes by yanking out the shank if they needed to and smashing down the boxes to make them as soft as possible.
The premise of a demi-pointe shoe is to ease a student from a soft, pliable slipper into one that contains her toes within a hard structure. The demi-pointe is supposed to help train beginners to walk within the confines of a hard shoe and balance themselves gracefully on the stiffer soles and rigid boxes.
Some ballet instructors recommend demi-pointes, some do not. Some students and dance parents find them to be one more expense they would prefer to avoid. What about you? Do you think beginners are better off with a transition model, or do you think that this is more of a marketing ploy designed to get people to spend more money than they need to?
You can see all three models and read more about each one on the Grishko Canada website.