My Pointe Shoe Fiasco

I live in metro-Atlanta. But this weekend, it didn’t feel as if I live in the “ninth largest metropolitan area in the US” – not at all!

I found myself in quite an unbelievable position this weekend, when I was left without pointe shoes, and with no way of getting any. At least, not in time. I never thought I would be in a situation so strange that I actually felt ‘stranded’ without any pointe shoes; I most definitely felt immune from such a situation, thinking all along that it is a concern best reserved for those people living in the middle of nowhere. Certainly it is a concern not worth fretting over when you live in an large metropolitan area with a relatively large community of dancers and, therefore, at least 2 dance stores close enough to be worth driving for? And, of course, what with being connected to the internet pretty much 24/7, there is no way I would ever actually find myself in a position without access to shoes! Right? Right??

As it turns out…I couldn’t have been more wrong!

A few of the many pairs of unfortunately useless pointe shoes lying around me

Let’s start at the very beginning. It is a very good place to start, after all! Julie Andrews would be proud…

A few weeks back – maybe a month ago? – I ordered my usual Grishko Elite 5 XXXX H from the online distributor I usually order from. Now, my Grishkos…they’re perfect! When they’re perfect. And when they’re not, they’re really not. Most of the time, I get perfect pairs. But far too often, I receive a pair that I absolutely cannot dance in. I’m still not 100% sure what it is about those pairs of shoes I come across now and then, but my teacher and I have established that it seems to be a problem with the shank going too far down into the shoe, curling the toe upward and therefore pulling me off pointe when I try to dance in them.

Sometimes it’s a huge inconvenience but something I can deal with if I must. Other times, they’re so inhibiting that I cannot deal with them at all, because I cannot dance in them – especially when I’m rehearsing a variation  (when it’s really crucial to have good shoes – significantly more so than if I were just using them for daily class).

It’s a gamble that I’m tired of taking! I am fed up with this problem. I found out a few months ago that it seems that every pair of bad shoes I get is made by the same maker. Unfortunately, in order for me to get around such a problem, I first must find a maker that I know makes the shoes the way I like them; then I must order direct from Grishko. It’s not a huge problem, ordinarily, except for that it takes time. And right now, I don’t have time!

I received my 3 pairs of Grishkos in the mail on Friday (after waiting for so long because they were back ordered…) and sewed one of them. This was one of those really-horrible-I-cannot-even-bear-it types of bad shoes. I took them off in the middle of rehearsal and changed into my dead shoes, which were far from providing the support I needed to pull of 5 rotations in my turns, but which were undeniably heavenly in comparison to the terrible new pair!

I have not yet sewn the last two pairs. I was intending on having these three Hard shank pairs, and then ordering 3 more Soft shank pairs (to use for stage – so that I have a perfect pair without fussing over breaking them in according to the ‘right time’). Now, I will be sending back the 2 remaining Hard shoes and exchanging them for 2 Soft shanks. I hope that the Soft shank shoes they send me will be usable. And I hope that, if they are still less than idea, that I might be able to use them well enough anyway because they are a soft shank. But, we will see.

As for the here and now – I’m stuck with my dead shoes until…until…I don’t know when until, to be honest!

None of the stores here had my shoes in stock.

In the long run, I’m really starting to like the idea of switching to Russian Pointes. I just don’t know how much more of these Grishko fiascoes I can handle! And besides the frustration that it causes me, and the damper it puts on my dancing, it’s really expensive. I shouldn’t be forced to gamble…

I was recommended the Rubin, in vamp 1, to best match the Elites. None of the stores here had vamp 1 in stock.

I’ll say it again – I live in Atlanta! And yet, I am stuck without pointe shoes!! Unbelievable.

My plan of action? I’m using my dead shoes for now. I’m exchanging the 2 other Hards for 2 Softs. The one bad pair I already sewed? I tried 3/4-ing the shank, but it did no good.

I cut the shank to 3/4 length, but it was no use!

They’re going in the trash. I bought a pair of RP Rubins in vamp 2 to show my teacher today – at least then she can see the model and shape of the shoe and tells me what she thinks. Will I sew them and use them? I have no idea. On one hand, I very much want to. On the other, I know that the vamp is slightly high, and I’m not too keen on the idea of throwing another $80 in the trash. I can’t afford that! And at the same time…I need a pair of shoes, now! The store ordered a pair of Rubins vamp 1 for me, but that will probably take weeks to get here. They also ordered 2 more pairs of Soft shank Grishko Elites for me. All in all, hopefully soon, I should have in my possession 4 pairs of Grishko Elite 5 XXXX S; a pair of RP Rubin Vamp 2, which I may or may not end up returning; and a pair of RP Rubin Vamp 1, which will hopefully be a wonderful shoe for me and will allow me to switch out of my Grishkos and into RPs.

It’s the best plan I could come up with. I’m still not happy with the situation I’m in right now, though. I’m in the midst of rehearsing for YAGP, and I need to be ready! Yes, I know – “it’s not the shoes, it’s you” – sorry, there’s only so much I can do with dead shoes or bad shoes; unfortunately, quadruple pique en dehor pirouettes do not fall under the category of ‘only so much I can do’, and neither do quintuple pique en dedan pirouettes – both of which I am trying to establish consistently for my variation.

Yes, I am frustrated. This should not be a problem I have to deal with.

As with all things, though – if I don’t solve it…it will solve itself!! Staying positive 🙂


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