Shoe Peeves

Do you have a brand or model of pointe shoe that you absolutely hate? Perhaps you wasted your money on some super-expensive shoe only to have it fall apart within days.

If you need to do a little healthy venting about the challenges pointe work brings, feel free to do it here!

34 responses to “Shoe Peeves

  1. I’m an Industrial Design student who, for my thesis, is redesigning the way pointe shoes support a dancer’s foot. Also, preventing injury and what/not. Don’t worry…i’m not going the Gaynor Minden route.
    I’ve found a lot of good information on your page. I didn’t know there were So MANY brands of pointe shoes. (here in the south we’ve got Freed, GM, bloch, and Capezio…and that’s IT)
    If you would be interested in helping me with my design process, I think you could help me come up with some great ideas.

    Thanks.
    Megan

    • I like the idea of the GM fitting system where you can specify the width, vamp, box etc, but there are so many more things that dancers customize. I dont like how shoes usually end the shank halfway through your heel, feels weird to me. Would love to read the thesis when it’s done!

    • Hello Megan,
      I applaud your ambition! It is a huge undertaking. The different levels of training, foot shapes and personal preferences of each dancer will make it very challenging to say the least.

      Inventing a shoe design concept that isn’t already out there will be another challenge. We now have pointe shoes with springs, built-in padding, replacement shanks, heat-activated molding, blended paste/plastic combos, antibacterial properties and all of those “high-tech” things.

      Success could come from researching the shoe needs of a wide variety of dancers. It has been decades since I was on pointe.However, I still remember how important it was to get a shoe that lasted a long time for the money. Cost is a huge issue for many pointe students.

      With ballet performances becoming more physically demanding each year, dancers are looking for “performance-enhancing” shoes that are whisper quiet, strong, flexible and gorgeous on the feet.

      Anyone reading this is welcome to comment. What do you need in a pointe shoe design?

  2. I really like the idea of heat molding.

  3. I recently saw a pair of pointe shoes on which the back half of the shoe was made of elastic canvas, rather than satin, similar to the elasticized canvas Bloch uses in some of their flat shoe models. When I asked the dancer wearing them who made them she said she didn’t remember,and that it was “some french company”.
    One of my very best dancer friends has the most amazing feet, but her heels somehow retract up towards her ankles as she pointes her feet. I would go as far to say that were you to measure her foot flat vs pointed, the sole would be an inch shorter when she pointes. It’s almost like a telescope which can become longer or shorter. As a result, getting pointe shoes which stay on her feet is near impossible.
    When I saw these, I wanted to be able to pass along a name or brand or something,as she has struggled for years over it. Her current solution includes redoing the drawstring out of folded .5″ elastic on Russian Pointes. GM sleekfit doesn’t work, nor does the custom pair she had them make for her.
    If you know who makes these shoes, or can suggest something for her to try, I would be really appreciative,as I’m sure would she.

  4. Hello Toya,
    The pointe shoes you mentioned sound like the Kaliste model by Merlet of France. The front portion of the shoe is satin and the heel section is elasticized canvas.

    As far as I know, no other company makes a stock shoe this way. Your friend will definitely have some challenges with any stock shoe that comes with a satin heel and may have to constantly experiment with heel grippers, rosin, elastic, e.t.c..

    Other than commissioning a custom-made design or learning how to create small, stretchable “darts” of elastic on each side of the heel without destroying the function/ looks of the shoe, trying the Kaliste by Merlet sounds like a workable choice.

    You can read more about the Kaliste on the Merlet U.S.A. link on the sidebar here. Best wishes for finding the right shoe.

  5. Thank you so much! I really appreciate it, and Briana (my friend) is really excited to try them. Thanks again.

  6. Hi Toya,
    I would like to get in contact with you. Would you have time to Skype this week? My name is Sandra and live in London. (Ex ballerina). Send me your email and I can forward more details about me.

    Looking forward to hear from you.

    Kind regards,
    Sandra H. F.
    London

    • Hi Sandra,
      I would be happy to get in touch with you, however, I have no way to give you my email without posting it publicly. Perhaps you can look me up on Facebook and send me a friend request? My Facebook name is Toya L Dubin.

      Happy to get in touch.
      Toya Dubin

  7. I sent you a flicker mail about a pointe shoe made in china and now giving you a heads up Suffolk is coming out with two new shoes they gave everyone just a peek on there facebook account .
    new Status and Sovereign pointe shoes.

  8. Hello Paul,
    Thank you for the information. I am aware of the Status, but not the Sovereign model. Sovereign is indeed an interesting name for a pointe shoe.

  9. There is this one girl in my class and she always had the prettiest shoes the never got dirty and they lasted her FOREVER. They were always clean and pretty. I asked her for there for the name, but she was in a hurry to leave and mumbled something really quickly and left. I did not catch the name, she has not returned to class and my teacher said she changed dance schools. But, I still want those shoes! All I can remember about them is that they had rubber tips on the toe box. I know they are not Gaynor Mindens, Freed of London, Capezio, or Chacott. Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks! -Martha

  10. Gahhhhhhh! I just hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate when you try on a pair or pointe shoes (that feel and look great in the store), only to sew them and break them in, and a few days later they die. Or they break in the wrong place. I have a medium-high arch, medium length toes, and a very high instep. When I first got my Russian pointe rubins, they looked beautiful and felt soo comfortable. When I got to the studio, the platform got soft super quick, while the shank retained its stiffness (It was a medium-flexible shank, and the small maker mark on the outer sole read “A”). And that’s really weird, since I usually kill the shanks waay before I kill the platforms. And the vamp was still rock hard too. I’ve had similar problems (where the shoes looked and felt great in the store but horrible in the studio and on stage) with Gaynors, Grishkos , Anniels, and Freeds.

    • I literally had the same problem with the exact same shoe except it was my shank that died (I have extremely high arches and tend to really kill shanks). I got the Rubins in a medium flex and they died in two hours. I then decided to get them in the hard shank (no flex) and the lasted about 4 months with constant use. It was the box that died. The shank is still perfect worn though.

  11. It’s interesting that after checking the votes, the biggest peeve is dealing with difficult pointe shoe fitters.

    • My only peeve is that, after more than 45 years in pointe shoes, there is one constant problem. If I find a brand and style I like, the company will always change the way it’s made, add features I neither want nor need, or simply stop making it altogether. This has happened so many times it’s become a joke. I have large feet and have frequently had to resort to buying whatever will fit just so I could keep dancing. I’ve worn so many types and makes that I can’t remember them all. But rest assured that some manufacturer’s executive will feel the need to “re-vision” whatever shoes I’m using, and they will become unworkable and unbearable. I don’t need high tech or new materials. Just give me a decent pair of plain old pointe shoes with real shanks, hard boxes, and small platforms and I’m a happy dancer!
      As for complaints of bad fitters, more dancers need to come to our favorite shop. The employees there are absolutely FANTASTIC!!

  12. Pointe Shoe Brands

    Hello Hope,
    I really understand your frustration. Manufacturers always try to fix what isn’t broken. They should never change the specs on a pointe model; it technically becomes a different shoe for a different foot even if the name stays the same.

    It’s a marketing boo boo and not at all customer-friendly.

  13. Thanks for giving me a place to vent my frustration. I now run a studio and have made the decision that all my dancers, students and company, have to wear a small platform shoe. So we went to Russian Pointe and Grishko because they seemed to have the longest lasting styles and were pretty consistent. But Grishko has changed the way they make the boxes by adding in “quieting technology” which seems to be nothing more than a hole drilled through the boxes between the sole and the end of the shoes. This is like building a bomb shelter with one wall missing! The shoes aren’t any quieter when they’re new (and whatever happened to the DANCER being quiet, not the shoes??) and they die in only a few rehearsals. The Russian Pointes are wonderful, but the boxes turn to mud so quickly that my dancers are going broke trying to keep themselves shod.
    Long story short… we need a brand of old-school pointe shoes that have medium vamps, small platforms and boxes that will last for more than 3 days. It would be nice if the shanks came in more than one length and hardness, too.
    Does this even exist anymore? Or am I just living in the past?

  14. Hello! I am new to this blog but I was wondering 2 or 3 things: I have been a freed lover all my life and since my feet have grown and changed over the years (along with my maker retiring and Freeds are hard to find in wider feet….) does anyone know where to find a good priced freed? I LOOOOOOVE my pointe store (Los Angeles ca ) but they are 118$ for Freeds! Also I was a pro dancer for many years and most of us use Freeds. I now am dancing just for myself and I’d like to teach beginning pointe and intermediate ballet but I can’t even afford a place to dance myself. Anyone know somewhere in LA California that’s less than 200$ a month?! Also, last question: I can’t fit my feet into tapered small platform. Do all your students have to wear them? I’m not trying to b rude I was just wondering because everyone’s foot is so different! =)
    -Rachel K

    • Hi, Rachel. Thank you for your question. I’ve taught pointe for almost 40 years and in that time I’ve tried to research and read and study various schools of thought to be able to give my students the best training possible. In my youth, there were only 2 styles of shoe available to us. Both were Capezio and the only real difference was one broke down faster than the other. As I grew up, my feet became very large (the unheard of size 10 in the late 60’s). I still have super wide feet with insanely narrow heels. It was Pavlova by Capezio and they lasted forever. I darned them, shellacked them, and then shellacked again. This gave me about 28 hours of strong wear and another 28 as they began to die. Pavlovas had narrow platforms, long vamps, HARD boxes, STRONG shanks and they never gave me a moment of problem. My feet are strong and, even now have a wonderful arch.
      In the 1980’s, one of the new philosophies that gained a lot of ground was to not teach pointe until the student was 12 to “prevent injury to bones that hadn’t finished hardening”. After doing this for about 5 years, I noticed that the girls were not advancing as quickly and suffered much more pain and injury. After I thought about it, I realized that at 10, the dancers were only doing approximately 15 minutes a week in the shoes. That’s when I also realized that that wouldn’t injure; rather it would slowly build strength and good habits that would stand them for a lifetime. So I went back to teaching pointe to 10 year olds.
      I only tell that story to let you know that I’ve tried the new philosophies because I’ve had enough years to try them. But I keep coming back to what I was taught.–
      1. Start when the child has developed some of the strength needed. They don’t need all of it, the pointe work will build the rest.
      2. Go slowly and let each dancer develop at her own speed. This is not a race, it’s a personal development thing.
      3. Narrow boxes give you stronger balance because you have to actually do the work yourself. Fat boxes will hold you up there no matter how weak a dancer you are.
      4. Hard boxes and full shanks take LOTS more time to break in. Little feet will outgrow the first few pairs before they are broken. But eventually the feet will rise to the challenge and begin to take control of the shoe.
      5. Polymer boxes/shanks are for fully professional dancers. Students don’t need help, they need to make the shoes conform by continual work and a lot of sweat.
      6. Remember to teach the old ways of re-hardening to the younger dancers. This will give longer lives to their parents’ investment and make them appreciate the new pair even more.
      7. Lastly, give the youngest dancers no time away from barre until they can stand without wobbling. They can let go of it while they work, but they need that barre to catch them when they start to go over.

      I’m sorry this was such a long answer, and that it took so long to get a response. I feel that in some ways the older methods have been tried and proven to really work.

  15. Maybe someone can help me puzzle out a problem that my memory has failed me on. I used to dance, and now my daughter is dancing at the same studio where I trained. When I went on pointe, most of the classmates were wearing Freed, but I was the unusual one wearing a different brand. For the life of me, I cannot remember it. I had to special order them from Montreal? Where they actually originated from, I do not know. Double shank, 5E – and my first thought was that it was a Capezio shoe, but apparently these are for narrow feet? I would like to know, since, of course, my daughter has a very similar foot and hard to fit. Wide toe, narrow heel. I remember them being more pale pink than being soft coral that most shoes are nowadays. She has tried Bloch, Gamba and Suffolk – $120. I have searched on the internet to see if there is a brand out there that sounds familiar. This would be early 1980’s. Thanks for any suggestions!

  16. were they codeduc? ,these were available as special order in the 1980’s they were however unfortunately discontinued in 1996.
    A good brand to try is probably Sansha as they have a wide box option, they’re really your best bet particularly the infant/prince(ss) they’re exclusive to Japan & China though so your only option is to search online and make sure you know your size. You’re right in that Capezio are made for Narrower feet,Sansha prices are quite low but we warned it doesn’t take long for them to die,Chacott might have a model suitable try C.O.A.D by Chacott,I do believe they may do a wide version in this model,You could always try customized shoes if all else fails.I’m based in England right now & here in Britain we have shoes for all foot types, you contact me at katerocks.wilson128@gmail.com for some more information and I could possibly have a search and see if anybody here will be willing to send you a pair if you could send foot measurements.In fact if you could tell me the length of her foot from longest toe to heel and width of her foot at the largest part (in cm) then I could find you a pair over here and ship them over for say $15? (I think it’s that price)And you could have the shoes for free,let me know,
    Kadee
    P.S-When I lived in the states I always bought Gaynor Minden,is this an option for you?

  17. ooopsy it should say Infanta

  18. We actually have a store here that is newly opened and they sell Sancha- she was going to try but they didn’t have her size in. There is also a new Blich available, with the elasticized heel so may give that a try.

  19. I noticed the picture of a Grishko Semenyaka on the left; I have never heard of that model. Is it an old one? The label and markings on the sole seem quite different from the ones on other Grishkos.
    Also, on the subject of Grishkos, I keep seeing “Ulanova” for sale (e-bay) but I do not see it on their site, linked on the right. Do you know anything about the history of this shoe (discontinued etc)?

    • Hello Mal,

      I believe the Semenyaka was discontinued in the late 1990’s. The Ulanova may be as well. It doesn’t appear on the Grishko Russia website either, but there is still a possibility it can be special ordered.

      I see the Ulanova for sale online at various dance wear suppliers, so they may be old stock.

      According to Grishko, the Ulanova is made on the same last/ form as the Fouette. It was made as an élevé model for roll-through to pointe. The Vaganova is made for relevé, or springing up to pointe.

  20. My biggest pet peeve is the whole pointe shoe fitting process. The fitters, by and large, don’t know what they’re doing and neither do most of the ballet teachers who are putting the girls on pointe. I’ve literally had teachers tell me that there are too many brands and it’s too confusing for them. Add to this that most dance stores have a pathetic selection of shoes! How do you expect to get students fitted properly if you only carry a few shoes in Capezio, Bloch, and Freed? The whole reason for so many different styles is that feet are so different. And a good fitting shoe can make the difference between a student staying in or dropping out of ballet.

    • I had a similar problem when I was getting my first pointes when I was 11/12. We had a danceshop within the school so I was fitted by my teacher my feet have grown around a half size since then. (I’m 20 now!) The problem with this is that she fitted us all in the same shoe unless she didn’t stock it, gamba 93 it is. It’s still so wide for me. I believe if I had a proper fitting shoe in the first place, I would have probably carried on pointe (I only did 9 months.) and ballet too I think the shank was/is too hard for me as well – it’s a plasticy one, I could just not get up on one foot at all. I think the vamp fits me better now..I can rise onto demi pointe.

  21. Hello Julie,

    I understand your frustration! At best, pointe fitters are “guesstimators” that rely on feedback from the person they are trying to fit. If a customer were to remain completely silent during the fitting, they would break out in hives.

    It is of my humble opinion, that if faced with racks and shelves and boxes of different pointe shoe models, any 2nd or 3rd level student could fit herself.

    Of course, this is not to belittle the profession, but fitters serve another purpose; keeping the shoes organized so it doesn’t look like Black Friday mayhem at Macy’s.

    Dance supply businesses stock what they think is popular and will sell. If a dancer has a foot that doesn’t conform to these choices, it creates huge obstacles.

    I do wish you success in finding something that works for you. Keep me posted and let me know how it goes.

  22. I was looking at your website and I haven’t seen any post talking about “Só Dança”, it is a well know branch and one of my favourites
    Their website: http://www.sodança.com
    I hope you like
    Faithfully
    Ana

  23. Hello Ana,
    You can enter SoDanca into the search box here to see any previous posts where the brand was mentioned. The company link is posted on the sidebar.

  24. Hello – Do you know of any brands that are cut square, with a moderate platform and a soft shank? Usually if I try for a square shoe the platform is too wide and puts too much pressure no my toes-I have tried the Gaynor box liners but they don’t help that much. A tapered shoe kills my foot and my feet are archy, but not very flexible and are wide width. Thanks, Marti

  25. The Grishko Elite is a square shoe that comes with a soft shank option, but it does have a very low profile.

  26. You could try a moderately tapered box (between tapered and square), since the platform is too wide when you try square shoes.
    The master formatted list in the-perfect-pointe.com could be a starting point for your search.
    Many models have soft shank as an option. Grishko certainly does. Grishko Triumph is supposed to have a wide/square platform, but I have not personally tried it.

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