Claire Bauman | March 31st, 2014 | Posted in How To, News, People


Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 1

 

 

 

 

 

 A well-rounded theater performer, Claire has been  studying ballet for years. Since moving to  Chicago, she’s found a great mixed-level class  and is preparing for her triumphant return to  pointe! I wanted to help her find just the right  shoes…

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 2

Before we started her pointe shoe fitting, Claire and I had a nice, long chat about her dance experience, shoe history, and past injuries.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 3

I also took a look at Claire’s feet. She wears around a street shoe 7 and has short, even-length toes and an overall wide and square foot shape. She has a high instep and a moderately flexible arch.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 4

A few years ago, Claire suffered a torn Achilles tendon, which caused her to lose some flexibility in her left ankle and arch.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 5

Claire uses gel toe spacers to prevent deviation of her big toe joint, which can lead to bunions. Claire wore her spacers during her fitting to ensure that her new shoes could accommodate this extra accessory.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 6

Claire also brought her padding of choice, Ouch Pouch Jr., to wear during the fitting.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 7

Each time we do a pointe shoe fitting, we check the length of the shoe by having the dancer stand in second position. Then we gauge whether the dancer’s toes are at the end of the shoe, and whether they are able to remain straight when she pliés. When the dancer props one foot onto pointe, we do a second length check, looking for about a thumb width’s worth of fabric to pinch at back of the heel. We also check to see if the shank is twisting away from the arch, a sign that the shoe is too narrow. When the dancer comes to relevé, we make sure her metatarsals are held firmly by the box rather than sinking into the shoe.

The first shoe we tried was the Russian Pointe Almaz, size 37.5, 4 width, with a flexible soft (FS) shank.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 8

Standing flat in the shoe, Claire felt some discomfort because the shoe’s fairly low crown wasn’t spacious enough for her high instep.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 9

Unlike many Russian Pointe styles, the Almaz does not come pre-arched. Claire found this straight shank too stiff when she came to relevé. The left shank twisted a good bit on Claire, both because of the stiffness and because the shoe was a little too narrow.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 10

I decided to switch Claire to the Russian Pointe Rubin, which is a bit less tapered through the box than the Almaz. We first tried the Rubin in the same size, size 37.5, 4 width, but Claire still experienced some twisting.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 11

Next we went one width up in the Rubin, to width 5. The shank was no longer twisting. Claire felt much more comfortable, though the heel felt a little looser than she’d like. When she went into relevé, she wasn’t quite sinking (a sign that the shoe is too wide) but did feel some rubbing on her pinky toe.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 12

We decided to compare the Rubins to the Russian Pointe Bravas, which have a wider platform and are a bit fuller through the crown. In the Brava size 37.5, width 4, Claire felt less pressure through her instep. When first standing in the shoe, she said, “This feels the best immediately!”

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 13

When Claire came to relevé in the Bravas, they looked like a pretty nice fit!

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 14

It looked like Claire wasn’t getting all the way up on the platform in the styles we’d tried so far, particularly on her injured foot, so I thought she might benefit from trying a shoe with an angled platform.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 15

I had Claire try on the Repetto Carlotta, size 5.5LS (large width, soft shank). Claire found the shoe’s softer build more comfortable for her high instep than the stiffer Bravas. The shoe felt a little too short when Claire pliéd in second (her toes weren’t able to sit quite flat). When she went into relevé, we found that the shank was twisting again on her left foot.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 16

I decided to go a size up in the Carlotta, to a 6.0LS (large width, soft shank). Claire found the shoe much more comfortable, both standing flat and on relevé. She found that the angled platform did indeed push her a bit more onto the middle of the shoe’s platform.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 17

While the Carlottas appear to have a high vamp (not always ideal for people with short toes like Claire), that’s actually a bit of an illusion in this shoe—the material is soft and flexible up to the middle of the vamp. I like this feature, because it gives you the flattering elongated look of a high vamp without being too constricting!
Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 18

I still wanted to compare the Carlotta to a shoe with an actual low vamp, so I had Claire try the Capezio Tiffany in a size 7W (Capezio runs closer to US street shoe size than other brands).
Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 19

The low vamp did allow Claire to stretch even farther through her arch, but this feature, along with the shoes’ overall soft construction, made the shoe better for short-term use. “It feels like a shoe that’s already been broken in!,” Claire noted, adding that it would make a nice performance shoe but may break down too fast for everyday use. Claire also likes to ¾ her shanks—in other words, she cuts off the back quarter of the shank for a closer fit to her arch—which might not be ideal these already-super-soft-shoes.

Chicago Dance Photography: Claire's Pointe Shoe Fitting &emdash; pointe fitting 20

The conclusion—Being open to lots of options is key for an effective pointe shoe fitting! You might find the shoe of your dreams, your perfect “sole-mate.” But it’s just as likely that, like Claire, you’ll find different shoes to serve you well for different purposes. Claire thought the super-soft Capezio Tiffany was a great option for performing, but liked the extra support of the Repetto Carlotta for day-to-day wear.

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