I left work early on the day of the fitting, appointment secured and spirits high. I thought back to all of the “first pair of pointe shoes” videos I’d watched on YouTube. I can’t believe I’ve come this far, I thought. This is something I can be truly proud of. I have accomplished this by myself. Let me tell you, as someone who made it a regular thing to start and quit things way too easily as a kid, it feels bloody good to stick to something and see results.
So I got to the shop. I’d actually been there before… when I was about 13 years old looking for jazz shoes – one of the many short lived hobbies of my childhood. I perched on a seat. I actually recognised a customer at the cash register as a girl who used to be in my class when I went to a different studio. There was another girl who was probably 14 years old, waiting to be fitted too. I don’t think it was her first pair. I realised in my nervousness to not be late I’d arrived 20 minutes early. I got up and browsed the leotards, spotting a black Bloch one with a cool back. I made a mental note of where it was hanging.
The shop assistant told me I could go into the fitting room.
With one last look at the leotard, I followed the girl into the room. Now look: I know for a fact that I can come off as cold or unfriendly due to the unfortunate gift of Resting Bitch Face. I’m not though! I swear. So I try to compensate by being really polite and chatty when I can. I dunno, it’s a habit. Anyway. So I chatted away with the girl, who was really lovely and helpful.
She sussed my feet. Relatively narrow with an average arch (sob) and strong ankles (yus). Do you know what she asked me to do? This super weird thing I didn’t expect. You stand in parallel and hold onto the barre, then rise up onto your literal toes. Using toe muscles and shit. She supported my heel a bit but it was so weird. I used to do it all the time when I was younger until someone said it would wreck my feet. It probably does if you do it as much as I used to.
On with the the gel pads and the first pair of pointe shoes. Parallel position, rise to demi, rise to pointe. “You’re sickling a bit.” Oh. Whoops. Fixed. Too big and too painful on my toes. Off with the first pair.
That’s the thing, you just have to guess what feels right and what doesn’t because wearing pointe shoes is such a random incomparable thing. I remembered what I’ve learnt from reading/viewing other people’s experiences and based it off that. Also the girl was like ok hell nah these are wrong, so that helped.
Second pair: too small. Definitely too small.
Third pair:….okay? Like… Decent. Do you sense my suspicion? Yuh. That’s because they were hella weird looking. It looked like I was wearing two tissue boxes on my feet. I thought I might get stuck with the tissue box pair, but thankfully she was like”they look bulky” and I quickly agreed.
I tried a smaller size of the same pair and they were still bulky and wide, but with a little extra toe suffocating pain to go along with it.
She thought for a second. This was just as I had imagined it. A lightbulb moment, and “maybe…” She reached for a box and pulled it down.
“These are the Bloch Heritage,” she explained. “They’re an older pair but a definitely a classic.”
First of all, I loved the V shaped vamp. They were the only pair with a V shaped vamp that I’d tried. They were delicately shaped, with a distinct lack of tissue box-ness about them. I hoped they would feel okay.
Demi, and then pointe. They DID feel okay. The best yet. I mean, it wasn’t comfortable per se but it was manageable and not terribly squishy, and best of all, I realised what supportive shoes felt like. I had a feeling about them. She did too. She said they looked really good on my feet. YES. I had found The Pair.
Something I noticed with every pair of shoes I tried was that it was pretty damn hard to get over the box. Maybe it was because they were fresh outta the box but damn. I get it now.
She packed up some ribbon (they have elastic where they make contact with the Achilles’ tendon), gel toe pads, elastic, a Bunheads stitch kit, and of course the shoes.
“Anything else you’d like?”
Yes. I stress shop. It’s something I do. I’ve accepted it as a character flaw.
“Well there was this leotard…”
I got the cool black leotard, folks.
On my way home in the Uber, my driver was telling me about how he recently drove Li Cunxin home from the Queensland Ballet which I thought was a groovy coincidence. By the way, I took a class there the other day and it was great.
This all happened two weeks ago now, but I haven’t been to a class yet. Last week I had a bit of a health scare (very low white blood cell count) and couldn’t go to work let alone ballet class, but all is well! I just wish the stress breakout on my forehead would get the memo.
And there you have it.