1. At what age may children begin to dance on Pointe and what model is the most suitable for children foot?
Historically, many ballet teachers began to put children en pointe at the age of 6-7.
However, information available to us from good research bow suggests that there are multiple factors to consider besides age - Dance ability abd technique, Physiological strenght, purpose of ballet, maturity and frequency of ballet class, and whether they have prepared using Demi - Pointes can all affect readiness for Pointe.
Only an experienced teacher can decide how well a child's foot is prepared for Pointe work and each child should be considered individually as each child develops differently.
For example there may be a physiologic difference in the development of children, for instance, in the North and South of Europe.
If the “Southern” children may go en Pointe at the age of 6 or 7, we would not expect the “Northern” children to experiment with pointe shoes till they are 8 or 9 year-old. It is most important that each child is assessed individually.
As George Balanchine is known to have said, "there is no point putting a girl en Pointe unless she can do something when she is up there!".
Basing ourselves on the universally accepted guidelines from the Royal Academy of Dance, (London, Great Britain) we propose the following system of choosing the well-fit pointe shoe.
a) We recommend for beginners the Exam/Demi Pointe shoe model. It is a shoe with a very soft inner sole and a smaller softer box designed specially to prepare the unfortified foot for Pointe work, strengthening the feet and ankles and getting accustomed to working in the confined space of a pointe shoe.
b) For those who have passed this preparatory stage, (approx. 12 months) we recommend the Novice model.
It has a soft inner sole not allowing to over-press a child's forefoot.
It is possible to stand en Pointe in Novice at the barre only - not in the centre of the room Following the above guidelines a child may then progress to work in an adult pointe shoe Some children may go directly from exam shoes to Pointe shoes.
We do not advice going directly from ballet slippers to Pointe shoes.
2. How should we choose the right pointe shoe, how should it fit the foot, is it possible to buy a pointe shoe “to grow into”?
The pointe shoe should fit the foot closely so that there is no room to move around.
The pointe shoe should also support the foot firmly.
A pointe shoe can never have "growing room". At the same time , it should not cramp the foot and cause pain.
Every pointe shoe should be carefully and thoroughly fitted by an experienced fitter, as individual shoes may vary.
3. What is the difference between Fouette and Maya-I?
The basic last of this model is the same (this means the shape of the shoe is the same).
The models differ in the manner of stitching on the sole.
In Fouette the sole and upper part of the shoe are stitched by hand, whereas in Maya-I and Grishko 2007 they are stitched by a machine.
Besides, the Maya-I model is lighter, less noisy on stage and a little bit more flexible than Fouette.
4. What is the difference of the Grishko 2007 model from the other pointe shoe models made by the company?
The Grishko 2007 model differs from the other models of the company by the form of its last (its shape).
The last is a little bit flatter in the toe and provides a closer fit of the foot, whereas the widest part of the foot is slightly pushed up, nearer to the instep. Launching this model was a sort of revolution in the pointe shoe design.
5. What is meant by the shank of a pointe shoe? Is it the shank of the box, platform?
The shank is the rigid sole of the shoe that forms the base of support under the arch.
The shank can vary in hardness.
The box is the hard part of the shoe at the front that encases your toes securely and grips tour foot around the metatarsal heads, allowing you to stand on pointe.
When the box fits you correctly, your foot should be held - you should not be taking weight on your toes, nor should your toes be crushed. No bones should be sticking out from the top of the box.
The vamp is the front or top surface of the box that runs along the top of your foot.
This gives you something to push against when en Pointe.
If the vamp is too low, you will go too far over the platform.
If it is too high, you may no be able to get onto Pointe or get over the box. A foot with an extreme arch often needs a longer vamp.
The platform is that flat bit of the shoe that you balance on when standing en Pointe.
Some people feel that a small platform is harder to balance on - in scientific reality it does not make a lot of difference as long as the platform is in proportion to the width of your foot, ie a very wide foot sqaushed into a shoe with a tiny platform may indeed find it harder to balance.
But a platform that is too wide may be harder to turn on.
6. Is it necessary to “break” a pointe shoe?
You should not do it. Breaking a pointe shoe you destroy the integrity of its construction and the shoe wears out more quickly.
Ballet dancers used to break their pointe shoes in the last century because the box was made out of very strong glue.
The box rubbed the toe fingers of a dancer and, as a result, caused bleeding unhealed corns.
Nowadays, special glue is used for making ballet pointe shoes.
It quickly takes the form of the foot and does not cause sores.
Once your teacher has approved the fit of your shoe, we recommend wearing it around the house (not on stairs!!!) and doing gentle rises at the barre through demi pointe.
Some dancers even sleep in their shoes to mould them to their foot.
7. How should one break the inner sole correctly?
It is not necessary to break the inner sole.
If it is too rigid for you, you may gently apply a bit of pressure by hand to the heel part of the shank.
The inner sole construction provides a working part of the heel which breaks well according to the form of the foot and gives it a more graceful look. If your pointe shoe is too firm, you should use a softer inner sole.
For instance, instead of the H shank, you may try its M equivalent.
8. What is a last and is it possible to order an individual last?
The last is the main template in ballet shoe manufacturing.
We may make a special last for you at the Grishko Ltd.
However, we have such a variety of standard shoes available that you should need it only if your foot is extremely unusual.
Grishko has a vast variety of different lasts corresponding to the individual particularities of all the foot types.
It is really difficult to choose the right pointe shoe yourself - one often needs to try many pairs before finding the perfect fit.
Please visit an approved local Grishko fitter who can help you choose the best pointe shoe for your needs.
9. What is necessary to do, if the pointe shoe fits well but the foot docs not look graceful in it?
If the foot does not look graceful in a Grishko shoe, then something is not quite right about the fit of that shoe on your foot.
It may be wrong shape of of shoe, or perhaps that shoe needs a little customization such as higher or lower vamp, wings, heel or side quarters.
Your local Grishko stockist should be able to help you with these decisions.
10. How should we correctly sew on a ballet ribbon?
The ribbon should be sewn on the side seam level on the underside of the shoe.
You need 2 ribbons of 50cm each per pair of a ballet pointe shoe.