Decathlon’s sportswear pointe shoe nightmare

I was quite excited when I found out that Decathlon are now stocking dancewear on their British website. They’re known for cheap sportswear and I do like a bargain.

However I feel some kinda way about their pointe shoe…

I know that there’s nothing stopping anyone who wants to from buying pointe shoes off the internet from reputable suppliers like Bloch or even slightly dodgy-looking listings off Ebay, however the way the shoes are presented by Decathlon seems a bit…irresponsible?

First of all the blurb is all about how these shoes apparently make dancing “easier”, with “NO MORE pain (sic)” which targets a beginner audience who are likely not to have been on pointe before or know what to look for in a shoe. The review below confirms this, from someone who has bought them as their first pair of shoes. Decathlon even proclaim that “They are nnovative (sic) shoes because they’re different to those sold by the specialists”, which to me is a massive alarm bell as it seems to discourage a potential buyer from actually seeking out a pointe shoe specialist for a proper fitting. They also come in standard street shoe sizes, without width fittings, which seems completely bizarre to me. For the same or similar price (£29.99!) you would be much better off talking to a specialist to fit your shoe.

Then there’s the customer pictures…Anyone who knows and loves Pointe til you Drop like I do kind of loves to hate how fashion photographers will use pointe shoes on models in ridiculous ways, however it’s a bit different when you’re using pictures to show a product in use and encouraging people to buy it and use it in a similar fashion. I’m absolutely not knocking the people who have sent their photos in personally, however its obvious that a fair few of them are not using correct turn-out and placement, and are practicing in their pointes at home.

I’ve no idea where or how they’ve conducted their research, but apparently “73% of dancers found the Relevé pointe shoe to be more comfortable than a traditional pointe shoe.” Hmm.

All of this really pains me just because it’s so dangerous! It’s so easy to injure your feet and ankles with ill-fitting pointe shoes and the way Decathlon claims its super-easy to get up to full pointe on these shoes seems to be an invitation to try it out at home.

Love the bargain leotards, but I just don’t agree with a sportswear supplier stocking pointes made by a fitness and gym brand! Really hoping there’s no broken ankles out there.

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A Canvas Rant

So you know I got some nice canvas shoes…

I’m still wearing my battered and laddered and grimy satin slippers.

This is why:

I CAN’T SEW MY CANVAS SHOES.

The backs keep slipping off my heels, which is a pain in the arse and also makes me feel like I’m going to go flying every time I attempt any turn. I have to pull them down when I’m waiting to go across the floor which is about as elegant as picking your leotard out of your bum.

This problem could be rectified if canvas slippers, like satin ones, came with elastics you could sew on yourself.

WHY DON’T THEY?

Do people really hate sewing that much? Do they retain it on satin slippers cos it’s somehow olde worlde dainty ballerina? I would have thought people were used to having to sew elastics and anyway everyone needs to do it for pointe shoes. So why just bang them on canvas slippers when everyone needs to adjust their shoes slightly for their own feet?

I’m going to have a go at unpicking and re-stitching, but I’m afraid that this may kill it rather than cure it…

Sorry for all the CAPS but it’s driving me mad. I love sewing and I love the fact I can fit my shoes to my feet perfectly. I also loved the line the canvas shoes, which were Bloch’s fancy-fancy stretch ones, gave my feet.

Back to lovely satin slippers. I’m well overdue for a shiny new pair!

My Pointe Shoes

I’m back in love with my pointe shoes again. Here’s some pics! And a walkthrough! (Bourée-through?)

First of all, Pointe Til You Drop has the best guide to stitching your ribbons and elastics, with lovely clear photos. I’m just adding my own observations and notes from talking to pro dancers

Ok so, my shoes are Capezio’s Tiffany with a medium skived shank. They’ve just recently come in to the UK Capezio shop in London from the US! Swit-swoo. I got myself some nice coloured toe pads too, fancy-dancy. Also will show up the muck less than the nude ones I reckon?

 

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To prepare them I used this video, recommended by a teacher:

Because of the skived shanks the shank prep was very straight-foward. However the demi-pointe prep was really difficult. I just couldn’t massage them as shown in the video. I’ve taken to wearing them in the house (just on flat, of course) and putting on my foot duvet slippers to warm them up, then stretching through demi-pointe. Side-note: you need foot duvets in your life, believe me.

Sewing: you’ll need a thimble. I use soft-pink Nymo, it’s very nice to work with. I stitched my ribbons using the Grishko method as demonstrated here:

It made sense to me that an uncut ribbon would be stronger than a cut one. Also, using the inside heel of the shoe as you sew the ribbon is supposed to help your shoe stay on your heel. This made absolutely no difference to me whatsoever, my shoes just popped straight off anyway! Maybe if you need minimal help with heel movement the Grishko method would make a difference?

I didn’t stitch my elastics on for my first class. Some feet just don’t need elastics and it’s better to dance without if you are able to. However my heels will not stay in my shoes AT ALL without, so I went straight for the cross-over elastic. I’ve secured the ends right down in the heel, and crossed over. An important point here: watch where you stitch the end of the elastics nearest the box. Initially I put them forward of the seam, as it looked neater:

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No! Don’t hold yourself back, girl!

This isn’t good practice! The more forward the elastics sit, the more they will hold you back from “going over”.

I re-stitched, aiming for behind the seam: actually they are over the seam to sit flush with the ribbon.

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Lovely!

I haven’t done anything to the platform. The little crafty crafter in me was secretly disappointed not to darn them, but as we’re beginners and not dancing in the centre yet we’re advised not to fiddle with the platform. We have been advised, however, that when the time comes, to dispense with darning or suede caps and just get a craft knife to the platform and just cut the satin straight off. Eek!

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Finis.

 

Adventures En Pointe #2

You may remember I had a bit of a moan about feeling overwhelmed in my first pointe class.

I kind of psyched myself out of returning to that particular class, and instead waited for my usual, fabulous, teacher to start a pointe course for absolute beginners. Which started today.

I feel wonderful! I feel like I own my shoes, they don’t own me.

We were very lucky to have a ballerina from the Northern Ballet come in to chat to us about pointe shoes. Although I had already sewn my ribbons and laccys, it was great to have a pro there and be able to just chat and ask questions about everything related to pointe. I learned that my elastics actually should be moved slightly, and I asked all about darning and demi-pointes and all the stuff I wonder about on here. I will post a pointe pics and walkthrough up here soon I reckon.

And then we tried it out, just getting up there, seeing what it feels like. This was incredible. I can’t tell you how great  it is just to know what your feet in the correct position actually feel like. The problem with being shoved straight up onto pointe and trying to do combinations is that you have no idea what correct positioning feels like, you’re kind of flailing around trying to get through the combination whilst never coming a safe and correct “home” position. So Fab Teacher came round, shoved my demi-pointe over for me a bit, and said – fab!

I’ve got it!

Next week, the real hard work begins…

 

What’s the point of demi-pointes?

I mean, I know why people wear ’em. To work the ankle and calf, right? And to improve balance? There’s probably more reasons. And they sure do look pretty.

Because they look pretty I would obviously love to own a pair. But I’m really not sure if there’d be any point for me. I’ve started pointe class (ha! see here) and so maybe wearing demis to regular class would help me build up ankle strength for pointe? However nothing, BUT NOTHING is going to work my ankles as hard as actual pointe. And, plus, if I wore demis to class I wouldn’t get the same feel dancing. I’ve loved really working the floor ever since my very first class. Brush brush brush. There’s great value in feeling the floor just naturally with your own feet isn’t there? And real dancers wear their soft shoes at the barre – as far as I’ve seen, which is watching the whole Royal Ballet class on Youtube more times than I’d care to say.

I know what you’re all thinking – ask your teacher! Well, maybe I might. Probably after I’ve written a post about The Thing About Talking To Your Teacher…

Satin slippers

I’ve always chosen satin flats since I’ve started dancing. Actually, when I went to (a very few) ballet classes as a little girl my mum put me in gorgeous little satin slippers and not the creaky leather ones everyone else in my class wore. Divaahh…

At the moment I have Bloch’s split-sole satin shoes. They’re actually due for replacement very soon – the ball of my big toe is rubbing through on both sides. I KNOW canvas lasts longer! I know you can pop your canvas shoes in the wash! I may even try on some canvas ones in the shop! But I know I’ll buy some little satin beauties.  My reasoning is that –

a) they’re cheaper

b) on my amateur class schedule they’re not going to wear out anytime soon

c) they keep their shape fine and my feet are very comfortable

d) I absolutely love the lustre of satin. I love how it feels to the touch and on the floor. I love the precise colour of Bloch’s pale salmon-y nude-y pink.

Maybe I’m buying into the mystique of the satin-and-tulle ballerina -but satin slippers just look SO GOOD. Why does nobody wear them?

 

Nymoooo

I want to to tell you all about Nymo. Because it’s brilliant.

It’s super-strong, silky thread which is used for beading and bead embroidery. It’s great to work with, you can get it for about a quid off Ebay or at a craft or bead shop (Beadworks in London – handily situated near all the dance shops in Covent Garden!) and it comes in all the colours. I was stitching with ivory which I happened to have from embroidery, until my cat stole and hid it. I’m now waiting for an order of soft pink to come through the post.

I use it all the time to sew my elastics onto my flats.  When I got my pointe shoes (Oh-ho. More about that later.) and had to sew my ribbons and laccys I really didn’t fancy using dental floss. Maybe the best ballerinas in the world have minty-fresh pointe stitching, but use weird coated plastic stuff which I don’t even own when a specialist haberdashery product exists?!? Oh nono.