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!

I Heart Dance Tights

Uh muh gorssh you guys I have so much to catch up with you on.

But a dancewear delivery just came so I’ll start off with that.

So we all love DanceDirect, yes? Yes! And we all love obsessing over exact shades of balletic pink and matching our legs to our feet don’t we?

WELL LET ME TELL YOU

DanceDirect now stock Revolution’s “color-flow” tights – for only £3.80 footed and £6.90 convertible.

Three pounds eighty!!!

They come in an impressive colour range of: Pink, Classic Pink, Prima Pink, Dark Tan, Tan, White and Black.

From the colour wheel thingy the Pink looks to be a fairly red-toned pink (as opposed to a salmon) so I plumped for a Classic in footed and Prima in convertible to give em a whirl.

So straight out of the packet, the Classic Pink looks like a Nude shade to me – although I realise this is Nude as in my nude skin colour, and my nude skin colour is pink compared to most people on the planet. The Prima looks like a very exciting shade of classic old-fashioned ballerina pink arrghh.

Classic Pink (L); Prima Pink (R)

Classic Pink (L); Prima Pink (R)

 

The packet promises “Color that flows from tights to shoes” so let’s have a looky here…

Look how battered my satin flat ties are ha

Look how battered my satin flatties are ha

My flatties (stretch canvas and satin) are Bloch, and pointes are Capezio.

Compared to my usual Bloch footed tights - more like £12 a pop!

Compared to my usual Bloch footed tights – more like £12 a pop!

The Prima’s looking good, no?

Unlike usual “bargain” tights, these actually  have a proper waistband, and the gusset looks well constructed. The “grain” of the fabric (is that the right word??) looks fine as well – not coarse or loosely woven. And they feel mega soft!

The fabric mix is nylon/spandex as you’d expect. The packet promises “superior fit” which won’t bag, and “softness and durability”. Little bit skeptical as I’m used to having to fork out for branded tights that win over baggy/coarse “value” tights…

But you know what, they’re really comfy on. Admittedly there’s not as much support – you know that nice feeling that you’re being “held in” – as I expect from more expensive tights. And a few classes will see as to durability. But I’m pleasantly surprised!

Yes, I do want some white ones to wear with white satin shoes like a Russian diva…

 

 

 

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A Canvas Conversion; and on Being the New Girl Again.

I went Bloch shopping this week! If you’ve been in London, maybe you’ll know about the conglomeration of lovely dance shops around a couple of streets in Covent Garden. I could easily spend hours cooing over them all. But a quick visit for new flatties is a Bloch stop.

Y’all know I love my satin. But I decided to try on some canvas just to see what it felt like. My problems with canvas include the fact  that canvas shoes on my feet just look like bags and don’t make me feel elegant at all; the line is just rubbish and just no no no. Part of the problem is the shape of my feet and toes. Whilst I have naturally very high arches, this means that over the years the pressure exerted on my toes has made them kind of crunch up – if I say I have curly toes, does that make sense? I don’t want to show you a picture of them!

However Bloch have brought out a new canvas shoes with ultra-stretch canvas. This means that instead of there being a huge bag over my toes where my toes don’t reach the end, the fabric forms to my shape! Here they are, they are the Synchrony :

Oh and trust me to choose the most expensive Bloch flat...

Oh and trust me to choose the most expensive Bloch flat…

They also have the elastic binding which is maybe not so important for the amateur dancer – I know my teacher has callouses from his binding and drawstrings over the years! – but it is very comfy.

So new shoes, I went straight into a new class! Double scary.

My plan at the moment is to mix up classes as much as I can. I have mega love for Fab Teacher, but his classes are so popular that it’s very hard to get specific, personal corrections. I work on the general class corrections of course, but I’m finding it difficult to get a good idea of where I’m going right and wrong.

Also I do tend to hang back from challenging myself, and will often push myself to get familiar combinations perfect before trying to do a faster or more complex class.

So along I went to a beginner/general class, and I’m already terrified at the “general” bit. I’m happy to report that I had a great time, that I knew most of the individual steps, but the barre was much faster and the centre a lot more “joined up” and complex. I have to laugh at myself attempting what I think of as a proper ballerina dance with balletic walking and everything. Also my new shoes felt great on the floor! I love a good floor-feel!

A new step for me was the pas de basque. I struggle with attempting to mimic during class and do need stuff breaking down, so along I went at the end of class and asked the teacher to demonstrate. I’m now trying to find an adequate video break-down online as I struggle visualising how to link it together!

It’s a big change for me being a new girl in a new class, as usually in my regular class I’m confident enough to go first in a group exercise. Just recently a girl taking our improvers class for the first time had hung back until the end of a centre exercise and the sub teacher expected her to go across the floor by herself. She asked me to go in front to lead her across, and I was happy to go across again, although I’m definitely not the best technique-wise for a new person to copy. I suppose the part of me that loves performance won’t pass up a chance to pretend to be Fonteyn either!

So new shoes, new steps, and a new mind-set to get to grips with. Any pas de basque tips gratefully received!

 

 

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.