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The Pointe Shoe Project 

Posted on December 06 2014

Hi Everyone! first of all I wanted to apologize for not posting a blog post on the last three weeks! But, finally my post is ready to see daylight, so with no further reductions, let me introduce you to the Pointe Shoe Project ! I got this idea from a few FAQ's I got on my ask.fm account about pointe shoes! hope this little research will help you guys and answer some of your questions about finding the perfect pair !

Freed of London-Alaina Andersen ( @alainaandersen ):

My name is Alaina Andersen, I am a 15 year old sophomore in high school, and I am a ballerina in training at the Milwaukee Ballet School. I have 3 siblings who are all involved in ballet as well as my 11 year old brother. Even though our lives revolve around ballet, my parents value our education far more. If our schoolwork isn’t done, we aren’t allowed to go to dance so all the Andersen kids are great with our time management skills.

I have just recently switched to Freed Studios and have been wearing and loving them for about two months. Freeds are mainly performance shoes; therefore they die quicker than others. Our family doesn’t have an abundant sum of money to spend on pointe shoes, so I do whatever I can to make them last. Every night, I put newspaper inside the box and hang them out to dry. This prevents the sweat from softening them too fast. I also jet glue the shank the moment I get the shoes in the mail. This is essential for me so that I don’t go over the box while I am dancing and break the shoes in the incorrect place.

Freeds Studios are very flattering shoes due to their slightly tapered box, low vamp, slight wing, and bendable (not breakable) shank. The only thing I dislike about them is how baggy they are in the heel. My heel is particularly narrow, so most shoes are very baggy in that area. Studios have a great drawstring that hides the bagginess. I use lambs wool toe pads with a gel tip. They provide comfortable cushioning without being too thick preventing the shoe from fitting correctly.

Most of our dancing at Milwaukee Ballet is done on pointe so we dance en pointe roughly 11 hours a week. It’s a great opportunity to improve because when I'm dancing on my toes more than en flat, I become a better dancer when in pointe shoes. I started intensively training in ballet when I was nine, so I received my first pair of pointe shoes when I was 12 years old. I adore pointe shoes mainly because I never get blisters. I have calluses on all my toes and my bunions, so the shoes almost never hurt; unless of course we have rehearsals for 5 hours straight. Anybody’s feet would hurt after such a long time. Being on pointe makes you one of the big girls, it is like your affirmation into the art form. I am so grateful and blessed to be dancing at such a great school, so I look at my expensive pointe shoes and I’m thankful. Even though pointework is tiresome and difficult at times, I always remember how fortunate I am.

  

Sarah Ryan ( @xosarahryan )

My name is Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan and I'm 16 years old. I started ballet at 5 years old at the Rock School for Dance Education. When I was 15 I began training with the School of Pennsylvania Ballet. (Before that I had already been guesting in their ballets such as George Balanchine's The Nutcracker and La Sylphide). I've attended summer programs such as the Rock School, Bolshoi Ballet Academy, San Francisco Ballet, Ellison Ballet, and School of Pennsylvania Ballet on merit scholarships. 

The pointe shoes I wear are Freed Classics. My feet are extremely adaptable (luckily) so I'll wear any maker in my size (4 1/2 x). My favorite makers are Maltese Cross and Clovers.

 

I started wearing Freeds at 13 years old. I had originally worn Blochs but because I was guesting with the Pennsylvania Ballet and the company requires them to wear Freeds, I decided to switch full time.Freeds, unfortunately, don't last me very long. They are very delicate shoes and if I wear them without doing anything to them I'm lucky if they last me a class. But I've discovered many tricks! First, I ALWAYS jet glue the box BEFORE wearing them. If not, it will die right away. For the shank, I use a spray called Shellac. You can get it at a hardware store. It's actually for wood furnishing, but it also makes your shoes last about a week or two longer. (You can also get your shoes custom made or get wing blocks, but the tricks I shared will probably be much cheaper.)
My favorite thing about Freeds is that they're very light so they make you feel lighter and they are very quiet on stage. The only bad thing about Freeds is how quickly you can go through them, but if you use my tricks it's not so bad :) I don't like having too much inside my shoe. I either tape my toes or I simply use some paper towel as a toe pad. At SPB ( School of Pennsylvania Ballet ) , we are required to wear our pointe shoes for all of our classes. I take Pennsylvania Ballet II class Mon-Fri from 9:30AM-11AM and then SPB class from 6:00PM-8:30PM. On Saturdays we have class 10:30AM-2PM. The total amount of hours I dance en pointe a week varies because of the company's rehearsal schedule. I usually have about 3-6 hours of rehearsal in between 11AM-6PM Mon-Fri. On average, I dance en pointe about 48 hours per week.  I started pointe work when I was 9 years old and my favorite thing about pointe shoes is that I find turning a lot easier.

Bloch - Brittany Tripp ( @btripppy ) :

My name is Brittany Tripp, I am 15 years old and in the academy program at Milwaukee Ballet School. This will be about my third year en pointe, other than the years when I just took amateur pointe classes to get the feel of how pointe class would be. At my school we spend about 16 hours a week in the studio, not including rehearsals, but out of that time about 10 hours is spent en pointe.

I have been wearing the Bloch sonata pointe shoes for a while now, and over the years of course with pointe shoes comes the beautiful feet, I've gotten many blisters, and such so now my feet are more immune to them and I don't really have to wear as much padding inside my shoes thanks to my callouses! I just use lambs wool toe pads that I've been using for a year or two now, and trust me they're not very pretty! And toe spacers thanks to my bunions, but that's all. I also like to 3/4 shank my pointe shoes since my feet aren't gorgeous, I think it just kind of helps them out a little.
Some of the things about Bloch pointe shoes are nice, but some actually withdraw from the ability of the shoe. First of all if you've ever had Bloch pointe shoes, you may know that they come with a little padding on the tip of the box. Although the little cushion is comfy, it isn't beneficial because it makes it very difficult to feel the ground, and then it's almost impossible to balance. So I always rip it out. I think that Bloch likes to focus on making the shoes easy to manage and comfortable, which makes them good shoes for beginners. And lastly, more often than not my shoes break lower than they should, making my shoes die faster and give my feet a not so pleasant line.
Although there are things that I don't like so much about Bloch there are a lot of benefits from them. I come from a big family, so money is always tight and the great thing about Blochs' is that they come at a very reasonable price. Even though they aren't the shoes for me and I would like to try other shoes, they're all just really expensive, so I make Blochs' work. Another good thing about them, is that I can/have to make them last for about a month, maybe a month and a half.
My favorite part about being en pointe is when the little kids watch our class. I love how they look when they see us do grande allegro, or fouettés. I love being that inspiration to them. And mostly because, what I am to these little kids is sort of like a metaphor to how I am about, Alina Cojocaru or Maria Kochetcova. I'm they're inspiration they look up to me. And they're my inspiration I look up to them. Another thing that I love about being en pointe is when you finally see the improvement of your adagio, or you do complete those five pirouettes nicely. That is my favorite part about dancing.

Caroline Hennekes ( @caroline_hennekes )

My name is Caroline Hennekes, I'm 16 and homeschooled. I'm also graduating a year early so I'm a senior this year! I train every day but Sunday so the studio is like my second home. I have a great group of friends there! I guess a fun fact about me is that I love coffee, ice cream, and chocolate!

Right now I am wearing Bloch Axiom (strong).
I've actually only been wearing this kind for a month or so. Before this, I wore Bloch Alpha for almost two years. They last me a good two weeks or so, but sometimes less depending on what I wear them for.
I love the Axioms because I can dance in them even when they're brand new. I can feel my feet and work through them better. And at first I didn't like how they were tapered but I've gotten used to it. I think I'm also more prone to blisters with these. Otherwise they're great!
For padding, I use a lambs wool toe pad, and a normal toe pad. I also tape my toes so they don't blister.
I dance probably 15-18 hours a week en pointe.
I started pointe at 11 or 12!
My favorite part of pointe is finding my balance and center and being able to float and feel free. Now I actually think I'm more comfortable en pointe than on flat.


  Russian Pointe-Olivia Behrmann ( @olivia_behrmann )

My name is Olivia Behrmann. The type of pointe shoes I'm wearing are Russian Pointe Sapfir.
I have been wearing Russian Pointe Sapfir since May 2011. They last me about 2 weeks.
My favorite features are the flat platform (which is good for balancing and turning), the sleek look on my feet, and there is no drawstring.
My least favorite features are that they can be a little loud and even though there are flexible shanks, they are a little harder to roll through than a softer shoe.

I only wear Skinny Dips toe pads inside my pointe shoes, and I dance about 8-10 hours a week en pointe.
I got my first pair of pointe shoes at age 12 (in July 2010). I got my first pair of Russian Pointe pointe shoes at age 13 (in May 2011).
Dancing en pointe is both challenging and fun. Pointe shoes make for beautiful lines and are one of the trademarks of classical ballet.

Leanne Fromm ( @leannefromm )

My name is Leanne Fromm and I'm 15 years old. I wear Russian Pointe Rubins and sometimes Sapphires.

depending on how much i am dancing, id say about a week. When I'm always doing rehearsals, sometimes they can last like 2 days :(
I like how comfortable they are. Any other brand of pointe shoes that that i wear feel very uncomfortable and give me blisters. Russians don't for me.
I don't really have a least favorite feature. the only thing is that the box sometimes breaks in a weird spot, but it really doesn't affect me
All i wear is lambs wool toe pads that are so old, they're like paper. i might as well not even use any toe pads
including nutcracker rehearsals, a lot. I'd say 14 or more? with normal classes id say about 8....these hours aren't very accurate because its different every week
I was 10 years old when i got my first pair.

Grishko 

Kessia Andersen ( @kessialynn )

 My name is Kessia Andersen, I am 13 years old, and I am currently an academy II student at the Milwaukee Ballet School.  I have been dancing for my entire life and I love it more than anything else in the world :)  When I was 10 years old I received my first pair of pointe shoes: a tiny pair of Grishko 2007's. However, I didn't stick with them. For a couple years fluctuated between various types of Freeds and Blochs, unable to settle on a single shoe. It wasn't until about a half a year ago that I decided to return to my original brand: Grishko.  

My weekly schedule for ballet persists of at least 9 hours of pointe work.  If I alternate between 2 pairs of equally broken Grishkos they will last for up to 3 weeks, with the help of jet glue.  Of course, their life span also greatly depends on what I use for padding inside of them. For example, when I choose to use only paper towel or go barefoot, as opposed to my normal gel toe-spacers and lamb's wool toe pads, the shoes will die at a much faster pace due to their increased exposure to sweat....But in general, Grishkos are fairly hard, durable shoes. 

Some of my favorite features about Grishkos include how beautifully they are shaped, and how accurately their shanks form to one's feet.  Their flattering, v-cut, Russian vamps can give anyone's feet an essence of elegance, and their shanks never fail to mold to the exact curve of an arch.  The only complaint that I have about them is that their shanks tend to be much thicker at the ball of the foot than the heel, which causes difficulty balancing, specifically during center adagio. Overall, Grishkos are great, widely worn pointe shoes with very few flaws.

There are many aspects of being on pointe that I love, and many parts of it that I hate, but my favorite thing about it is definitely the feeling of lightness that it gives you.  When I dance in pointe shoes, I can't help but feel weightless :) the thought that only a thin strip of glue, fabric, and paper mâché is separating me from the ground, will never cease to amaze me. Pointe shoes were created to make ballerinas appear as if they are floating on air, and that is precisely what they do. 

  Ashlyn Mae ( @ashlynmaeballerina )

My name is Ashlyn Mae, I'm 14 years old  I'm a student in the Pre-Professional Program at Boston Ballet School. I've attended ABT's Young Dancer Summer Workshop in 2011, Boston Ballet School's Newton SDP in 2012 & Boston SDP for 2013.I'm the youngest in my class of mostly 18 year olds!I'm 5'5 at the moment... I'll be 15 on February 9th. :), I strongly dislike/suck at Balanchine...lolMy favorite classical ballet is Swan Laka but my favorite contemporary piece (ever) is Wayne McGregor's Chroma. But I'm also in love with Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella, which is a perfect mix of classical & contemporary. 

The kind of pointe shoes I'm wearing are Grishko 2007 Pro! I have the most amazing private shoe fitter near Boston who I'm like best friends with. :) My first pair of pointe shoes were actually 2007's, but I stopped wearing them for a while & then I started wearing 2007 Pro's about a year and a half ago. I've actually been injured since June, so I haven't done any pointe since then. But when I was full force last year I would rotate between 2 or 3 different pairs that would last me about 2 weeks each with lots of jet glue. :)
My favorite feature about the shoes is the platform! I love the size of it. Even though my feet are so wide, the box doesn't follow that shape. It's not a huge block hanging off the end of the shoe. ;)

My least favorite thing even though this isn't a feature of the shoe-sometimes I over jet glue them and I can't bend the shank at all... that happened last year and my friends and I tried to bend them for days and they just wouldn't budge! I ended up having to throw them away...but it IS possible to over jet glue, my friends! Haha

As for padding, I usually just wear a large pro pad & I tape my big toe to keep it in line. I HATE spacers.Last year I was up to about seven hours en pointe a week with all the extra classes I took- this year (once I start pointe again) I think I'm up to around nine a week.I was 12 (halfway to 13) when I started dancing on pointe.

Well, even though with my difficult feet it's not always fun-I do truly enjoy dancing on pointe in general. I like the energy it gives me, the power. :) 

 

Suffolk-Audrey King ( @audreyking_ )

 My name is Audrey. I'm homeschooled and I've been dancing for 8 years. I'm 11 years old and I love ballet. 

Suffolk Solo Prequel size 4.5 one X

since summer, I just started pointe in May.

my first pair lasted until I grew out of them but they shank was almost dead. A month ago I got my second pair. They are holding up nicely(:

I like the color actually. Their not kind of white or kind of orange. They also work well with my feet. They create a nice line on my arch. I like the way they mold to my feet the more I wear them.

the drawstring! It's a fabric drawstring not elastic. It's a little bit difficult to unknot the drawstring.

I use toe spacers between my big toe and second toe. I tape my pinky toes with toe tape and wear flesh colored toe pads!

about 3 hours and 20 minutes a week. That's 200 minutes. Including rehearsals it's about 290 minutes.

I had just turned eleven the month before. 

I think it looks beautiful. It's painful but I love the way it looks. Plus you feel taller!

  Krysta Marie ( @krystamarie )

 

My name is Krysta. I'm 15 years old, and I dance in Texas. An interesting fact about me is that I'm practically a giant in ballet - I'm 5'8!

The type of pointe shoes I'm wearing is Suffolk Stellars. 

I have worn Suffolks for 1 year!

The life of the shoe depends on how much I'm dancing and whether or not I epoxy them, 2 - 6 weeks

My favorite thing about them is that they make not so perfect feet look more flexible, very supportive, and have a wide platform. They also make very wide feet look narrower and come in a wide variety of sizes.

I don't like the canvas drawstring they use. I tried the elastic one and didn't like it either.

I have them customize my shoes a little bit. One foot is a lot wider than the other, so I have them put a sock liner in the right shoe to keep me from sinking down. I also have them take the last tack out so it's easier for me to break the shank in. I wear large ouch pouches and spacers. No tape.

I dance around 9 hours a week en pointe! 

I got my first pair of pointe shoes when I was 14. I started ballet when I had just turned 14 and got my first pair of pointe shoes 4 months later. I've been on pointe for a year and a half now.

My favorite thing about pointe is getting to learn variations!

 

 

 Gaynor Minden-Natalie Barbis ( @natalieballet )

 My name is Natalie Barbis and I currently dancer at the Akademie des Tanzes (Academy of Dance) in Mannheim, Germany. I am originally from Australia but moved to Germany to persure my dreams of becoming a professional ballerina. What you may not know about me is that I didn't start ballet till I was 7 and I have been only doing full time training for the past two years!

I am currently using Gaynor Minden Pointe Shoes in Hard.

I have actually only been wearing Gaynors since this year! Specifically since August 2013.

One pair of Gaynors will usually last me around 3 months. Even though they say the shoe should never break down after about 3 months I tend to lose the support and stiffness of the shank.  I almost tried every pointe shoe brand on the market before Gaynor's (Grishko, Freed, Bloch and Sansha) and found at best they only lasted me 2 weeks so I love the durability of Gaynor's!

My favorite features about Gaynor Minden's is that firstly you can custom fit your shoe to your liking. Changing the shank, box, heel and vamp to your own specifications. I love the shoes durability, the arch support and comfort!  I also love how Gaynor's make jumping so effortless and quiet!

One of my least favorite features is that the shoes are very stiff in the demi-pointe position. Which can sometimes give the illusion you are jumping onto pointe instead of rolling through your demi-pointe onto pointe. 

Even though Gaynor Minden says you don't need to use any protection on your toes while dancing. I still always tape my toes and use a little lambswool at the top of my box because you never know when you may get a blister!

Roughly 10 hours a week… I think!… Maybe even more when I have a really hectic rehearsal period! 

I was 11 when I received my first pair of pointe shoes.

The feeling when I dance on pointe is really indescribable… I also think it is something which we take for granted each day. That being said, one of my favourite things about being en pointe is that I feel I truly embody the spirit of a "ballerina". I love the instantly longer line being en pointe creates, as well as the feeling of airy weightlessness that comes when you hit your "balance". Even though being en pointe comes with a lot of hardship, discomfort and pain I always try to remember the feeling of excitement, pride and happiness the first time I ever stood on pointe and how lucky I am to be doing something I truly love. 

 Claire Donovan ( @clairedonovan1031 )


Claire Donovan, just turned 16 and I go to Louisville Academy of Dance

The type of pointe shoes I'm wearing are Gaynors (w reinforced hard shank)   

I got gaynors about 4 weeks ago, and I have had the same pair for four weeks and they still haven't died!! (But gaynors are supposed to last a really long time compared to my grishkos who lasted for 2 to 3 weeks.) 

I love how I can pointe through my feet in gaynors. I also like how they last so long, they really fit to your feet, and when you jump they make virtually no noise.

I really hate that everyone says that they are cheater shoes and lots of people have prejudices about them!

I wear toe spacers, vamp elastic, toe box liners, and heel grippers. (The last two ones are special to gaynors.) 

I dance for about 4 hours en pointe a week. 

I got my first pair of pointe shoes when I was ten years old.  My favorite thing about being en pointe is that it is fun !

 

Repetto -Shoko Ito ( @s_dancer1221 )

 My name is Shoko Ito and I am a 14 year old dancer training at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in England. My dream is to become a professional ballet dancer and I have performed with English National Ballet in The Nutcracker.

The type of pointe shoes I'm wearing is Repetto La Carlotta 255MM normal width, hard back.

I'm with Repetto's Since October last year (2012)

The life of the shoes depends on how many classes I do at a time but on average, around 3 months/ a term.

I have quite narrow feet in general and I have a very narrow heel and I find it hard to find shoes that fit me but these fit me really well and have no gaps and show off the line of your foot really well. They also have quite a wide block so it is quite easy to balance.

My least favorite feature about the shoes is that they are very pink so you have to calamine them a lot to make them match your tights and it is also the same with the ribbon because they come with very pink ribbons so you have to buy different ones separately.

I use ouchpouches and also tape if I am wearing them for long hours.

I dance en pointe something like 6 hours a week at least,  I got my first pair of pointe shoes when I was 12. 

When I am en pointe, it makes me feel like I am dancing in a proper ballet, especially when I am performing a solo. It is painful, but you forget about it when you are dancing.

   Capezio - Amelia Mackay ( @amelia_alicex )

 

My name is Amelia Mackay and the type of pointe shoes I'm wearing are Capezio Glisse pro 117 (117 is the hard shoe) size 8.5 M, 

I have been wearing Capezio pointe shoes since December 2010 (approx four years) and I originally got them from the Capezio store in NYC, but now I bulk order them from a dance store in Texas.

One of my favourite features of the shoe is the wide box, which helps for stability, and things like pirouettes and balancing en pointe! The glisse pro has a long vamp which protects my toe joint which would otherwise stick out and cause blisters if I was in a shoe with a shorter vamp.

The glisse pro is also good in the sense that it doesn't take long to break in the shoes and get them feeling comfortable, 

They usually last me 4 weeks depending on how many pairs I am rotating. 

I don't have any least favourite features, I love them! Except that they are not supplied in New Zealand where I live, so we have to get them shipped from the USA which is annoying and expensive! 

Currently I attended regular school and train after school, however I usually do all my classes on pointe so that would work out to be about 14 --16 hours per week on pointe (or two -three hours per day) 

I got my first pair of pointe shoes at age 11.

I like the challenges of pointe work. If something is hard in flat shoes, it's bound to be much harder in pointe shoes, so it's the challenges of pointe work which keeps me motivated and aiming higher.

Well, I hope you guys enjoyed this post and even learned a few things about pointe shoes as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Please feel free to leave your opinions below or if you have any questions don't be afraid to ask me! I love hearing your thoughts !

I also wanted to thanks to all of the beautiful girls who took a part on this project, you all are amazing!!

XOXO,- WWB

 


 

 

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