There will be a few important milestones in every ballerinas life. Her first ballet class, her first concert, and her first pair of pointe shoes.
I was about 13 years old when I got my first pair of pointe shoes. They were a pair of Sansha ‘Debutante’ model. Feeling excited, I tried it on with my wool toe pads without even breaking into the shoe. To think back on it, I’m just glad I didn’t twist my ankle while being so inexperienced with any pointe shoes. I guess my teacher was right not to use them without her permission!
I then moved on to my second pair- Gaynor Minden. There were so many stories being told on how long it lasted and how it had helped dancers to strengthen their ankle and feel comfortable in them. Hence, I didn’t take a beat once I had the chance to buy a pair. Truly, they last exceptionally long. As long as about 4 years in my case. I was not a heavy user, perhaps 2-3 classes per week with 20 minutes of pointe work. I will never forget the moment my toes touched the cushioned pads when I went on pointe in them the first time. All I could think of was how soft and comfortable my toes were inside. Not to mention the pre-arch that all Gaynor shoes had, those pre- arches works wonders when you’re lacking in the arch department. But like all good things, they do come to an end at some point when your pointes become dead.
My whole life I’ve heard of Freed of London and Chacott but I never had the opportunity to try them. To me, they only existed in YouTube videos and Instagram. Finally, Malaysia has opened a Freed and Chacott store! They even provided complimentary pointe shoe fittings, so that really brought up my spirits to be a bit more adventurous. Thanks to a recommendation from my friend, I felt enthusiastic in trying on a new brand.
My first pointe shoe fitting was a real eye- opener. I hadn’t realize what I had been doing all these years as it accumulated into habits has been detrimental to both my physique and dance performance. As the shoe fitter pointed out as I went on a parallel rise, I was winging my right foot as opposed to keeping it long and straight. As I was doing the rise, I noticed that my ankle was not fully lengthen and I was not fully on pointe despite having to feel as though I am when I was wearing my Gaynors. It hit me that I was merely ‘sitting’ on the Gaynor’s pre-arch all these while. In short, I was too comfortable in them and started to develop a lazy foot without really strengthening it.
Despite all these, what really caught my attention was how long and high the shoe box were made. It completely covered past my bunions which made me feel really sturdy as I stood. As explained by the fitter, the purpose of the high shoe box is to prevent bunions from occurring as it keeps all your toes straight as opposed to a low toe box (usually stopping below the first metatarsal bone) as it causes the bone to jut out when on pointe. It makes perfect sense to me now as I recall being slightly concerned when I notice my first metatarsal bone protruding out when I stood on pointe in my Gaynors as it has a low toe box.
After trading in my old, dead Gaynors, (30% discount, best deal ever!), I purchased a pair of Studios Professional in size 5D, 3/4 shank. I got some crochet toe tips to stick them on, which to me looks absolutely pretty. It really does visually give a longer foot line compared to when sticking on suede tips.
As of now, I have worked through them in rehearsals, and a dance recital which required pointe work in all the pieces. I must admit it did take me longer than usual to get used to them. I felt as though I was constantly falling backwards as well as not feeling grounded due to to the crochet tips (first time user), but as time passed and some ankle strengthening I broke into it. It feels weightless, sturdy, and makes your foot line look incredibly long and slim. Despite it not having a pre- arch, I still manage to show some arch through them which finished ticking off my criteria for pointe shoes. However, I did have trouble with the high shoe box as it causes friction against the top of my foot. Hence, I really recommend those who plan to get Freeds to purchase their higher covered toe pads as well as it will save you from bruised skin.
With all that being said, I am super satisfied and happy that I made the switch to Freed of London. Wearing Freed pointe shoes feels like home to me.
Light pink crochet tips are adorable on pointe shoes. It maintains the long line and creates elegance and class to your shoes. Highly recommended.
Tips: For slippery wooden floors, you may try applying some hairspray to the tips before going on pointe to have more friction and prevent slipping.