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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Help Needed with Pre-Pointe Shoes


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I am very upset right now and not really sure what to do.


On another thread, I posted about DD and the issues with the prepointe shoes. DD had her first day of intensive today and I am furious! We wound up getting the Grishko Elite prepointe shoe with no shank. Other children in her class went to a different store and one of the moms showed me their shoes. These other shoes are hard in the center and must have a shank of some sort because they are harder in the center than the shoes DD has. We had taken them to DD's instructor beforehand and she said they were fine and that DD would get more strength out of these shoes and not to get upset if she couldn't get up on them as quickly as the other kids. DH then made sure to stress the fact that these shoes had no shank so DD was not to go en pointe in them. DD's instructor assured us they would only be working at the barre and would not go en pointe in these shoes.


Today, I arrived to pick up my daughter and her instructor said the kids need to just get used to the shoes that some of them were in tears because the shoes hurt so much. She then told me my DD was one of them. I get DD in the car and she tells me they went all the way up en pointe in these shoes!! She said she told her instructor the shoes didn't have a shank, but the instructor then looked at a pair one of the other kids had on and said because the back was flexible, they were the same shoe. I have felt the shoes this other child has on and they are not the same, they are harder in the center with the heels being flexible like DD"s shoes. So the instructor said the shoes were the same and DD still needed to go up all the way in them. Even the Grishko website says not to go all the way up on these shoes! I am so frustrated I don't know what to do and now DD is upset and hates the prepointe shoes she was so happy to have before. How can I approach the instructor? I do not want my DD up on these shoes. If DD's instructor wants to ruin her own daughter's feet by having her go enpointe at age seven, fine, but I do not want my daughter's feet ruined. :shrug:

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That doesn't sound good at all and could do some real damage. You certainly need to speak to the teacher, perhaps you could print out the details from the Grishko website explaining that they shouldn't go en pointe in them and remind the teacher that you did speak to her when you bought them and she approved them and said they wouldn't need to go en pointe in them! They are called pre-pointe shoes afterall which surely means that they are to be used before a student goes en pointe, not for the early stages!


Don't just leave it for fear of embarrassing your daughter, it needs sorting out so she doesn't end up injured.

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Courtney, I second what CDR is suggesting. One thing that the teacher needs to understand is that the Grishko Elite Pre Pointe is NOT the Grishko Elite POINTE shoe. Perhaps seeing the same name in two different TYPES of Elite shoes is where the confusion lies. Yes, the Grishko Elite Pre Pointe is built well and, in my daughter's experience and opinion, is one of the better made pre pointe shoes (hence the hefty price tag relative to other makes and models), however, it is still just a pre pointe shoe.


I would strongly appeal to the teacher and reiterate that the shoes have no shank and that you thought your daughter was taking a PRE pointe class only on DEMI pointe.


I completely sympathize with you and understand your feelings. Please let us know what happens.

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Well, hopefully everything is now straightened out. DH stopped by the studio after work and spoke with DD's instructor. The instructor told us they were going up on the toes at the barre and only for a very short period of time. They are basically practicing rolling up onto pointe and back down to strengthen thir muscles and to have them get ready for real pointe shoes in January. She said they weren't going en pointe per se in them because the box would break if they did anything else but hold the child's weight.


DD was in extreme pain today and she was in tears, but I guess her instructor just thought it was normal that some children are uncomfortable in the shoes. We were told, though, that DD might need to use more lambswool and the box might need to be softened to adjust to her foot better. Apparently, some of the others kids do have different shoes and that could be why they aren't having as many problems. DD's instructor told her to keep practicing and by using these shoes she would be more strong and these particular shoes were definitely the right ones for DD.


DH had also called Grishko and they had told him the kids shouldn't even be doing barre work, but DD's instructor said they really aren't doing barre work, but they are just practicing and strengthening the roll ups. I appreciate everyone's help:) This ballet world is so confusing and frustrating sometimes!!

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I hate to second-guess other teachers, but I don't like the sound of that. Capezio even had to discontinue their line of demi-pointe shoes while they settled a case out of court brought by parents of a kid who tried to use them as pointe shoes, even though a warning was in the box, "Not for use as pointe shoes." Other parents are correct. Demi-pointe shoes must not be used as pointe shoes. One slip, one time, one big injury.

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Did you say she's 7 years old?????? I must suggest that you search your area for alternatives to the current studio- this teacher sounds as though she is not up to date on several things. :D

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I think this DD is 10, Clara. But the teacher's daughter is 7-8, and in the same class. But the trouble light is still going off, and the emergency squawker is still going, "Pull out! quack, quack. Pull out! quack, quack. Pull out!!!" (You have to know airplanes for that reference; that's one form of terrain warning that tells the pilot s/he's heading for a crash!)


My suggestion would be for the two of you to take up running - to another studio.

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Courtney--(dance store manager here) You are not supposed to "go up/roll up/spring up, etc" in demi pointe shoes at all even rolling up unless the rolling up is only to the demi-pointe position which is toes flat on the floor but in releve. Anything else is a danger to your child's feet and is not what the shoes are for. Without a shank, there is no support at all in that shoe. Much like standing on your head on the kitchen floor with no mat.


My question is did the teacher want demi-pointe shoes or what some are calling pre-pointe or beginner pointe shoes? If demi-pointe shoes and she is asking them to "go up" on them, run!

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Courtney -


OK my dd's are older than yours but they once were under 13.


Your dd's teacher put her child en pointe at age 7? Run. That is enough info. Run.


But when you add the teacher's having your child stand on her toes in pre-pointe shoes, don't run. FLY.




You can print this Grishko webpage off and hand it to the teacher as you walk out the door. Never means never. Not even "at the barre."


Don't be afraid to change schools, dd did it and it was the right thing to do.

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We were told to get pre pointe shoes with no greater than 1/2 shank. Well, they don't make shoes with 1/2 shank. We were told definitely not to get a demi pointe shoe. We did get DD the Grishko Elite Pre Pointe shoes (that have no shank) and took them to DD's instructor. We explained they do not make the 1/2 shank and DD's shoes had no shank. We were told DD's shoes were perfect for her and exactly what she needed to strengthen her feet. DH explained to DD's instructor that even the Grishko folks said not to go up on these shoes even at the barre, but DD's instructor said that what they were doing at the barre was not considered barre work so they should be fine.


Actually, the instructor's daughter is now nine and she was just moved up a level this summer. Previously she was in my DD's class. She might have just turned eight when she went en pointe because I believe there is a rule at DD's studio where they can not go on before age eight. Personally, I still think that is way too young, but that is the instructor's daughter and not my child. Mine daughter is 10 1/2.


DD has been going to this studio for seven years now and they are really the best place around. They have produced many quality dancers. Her instructors are well known and highly respected so we are reluctant to leave. Again, I guess that is were the trust issue comes in.....also the frustration level because as parents, DH and I aren't always sure what to do. We do know that DD's health comes first regardless. Interestingly enough, most of the other studios around here have already started the children this age a year ago in pre pointe so DD"s studio is considered conservative. Maybe it is something in the water :P I truly appreciate all the advise and help. We are going to monitor DD very carefuly.

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I understand your frustration and I support your and your DH's obvious concern. Something is getting lost in translation here, though. The bottom line is that the pre-pointe shoes are not being used correctly and your dd is hurting and in tears every day she uses them. Something is wrong. I sincerely hope you get this worked out.


Is your dd's studio a ballet only school? How many classes does she take per week?

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Right now they are only using the shoes for about 15 minutes every other day. We worked with the lambswool a bit last night and she was no longer hurting. I guess my concern is about the hurt that might be caused that you can't see right away.


The studio is a ballet only pre-professional school. They do have a one Jazz class that the kids can take, but that is the only deviation. DD has been taking one hour of Jazz per week for two years and 1 1/2 hour ballet classes two times per week for three years now. Previously she took two one hour classes per week for two years. I am not sure if they will increase the amount of hours in the fall, but I am thinking they will. For the next two weeks she will be in the all day intensives M-F and another 1 1/2 class on Saturday. She has her own barre so she is also going to be working at the barre (in slippers) during the summer at the times she would normally be taking classes because she doesn't want to stop for the whole summer. She is also taking a 1 1/2 hour class on Saturdays throughout the summer. During the fall and spring, they also pick up an addition two or three hours on Saturdays when they are rehearing for Nutcracker and the spring performance which is a full ballet, but that is only during the fall and usually only for about a month in the spring. So, basically she has been dancing 4 hours per week total up to this point.

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Courtneysunshine, I hear your frustration and your reluctance to dismiss the school in which you feel such trust. However, there are several things that just don't sound appropriate in your current situation---regardless of the debate about what age to go on pointe.


My DD's school does use a half hour pre-pointe class immediately following the technique class--and pre-pointe shoes for the school year prior to going on full pointe. For the whole first semester, some of the concentrated, controlled exercises for their feet (monkey toes, piano toes, etc) are done totally in bare feet to develop articulation while others (innumerable releves, slow and long) are done in soft slippers to develop strength. Watching class was literally like watching grass grow.


Second semester, the girls got their 'pre-pointe' shoes. These shoes were either 'official' pre-pointe shoes made by Capezio or Grishko that have the block and box of pointe shoes but have absolutely no shank. If the dancer's feet did not fit those specially made pre-pointe shoes, then they bought regular pointe shoes and immediately de-shanked them. (Lucky us, yep! a brand new, full-priced pair of pointe shoes instantly mutilated by yanking the full shank out).


The exercises the girls did in these fully-shankless shoes were: more releves, more releves, more releves---and then many of the other regular 'cross the floor' exercises---but never higher than to demi-pointe. They never went all the way up on the full box of their shankless shoes! That did not begin until they were moved to full pointe class with full shank pointe shoes.


If you read through many of the discussions in the pointe shoe forum about the difference recommendation regarding the hardness of shanks, you'll quickly come across many discussions about the advisability and recommendations regarding full and three-quarter shanked shoes. For all but the most advanced dancer (and some of the banana feet dancers), the teachers and pointe shoe experts herein recommend nothing but full shanked shoes. The three-quarter shanks are recommended only for advanced dancers (and some banana feet dancers). That is based primarily on the lack of support the three-quarter shank provides for developing dancers. The idea of a 1/2 shank shoe being used for any kind of support (or lack thereof) for a pre-beginning pointe student defies logic.


Given that the Grishko folks are adamant that their pre-pointe (aka demi-pointe) shoes are NOT to be used to rise to the full platform/box, I can't help but be concerned about your DD's teacher's cavalier attitude in disregarding that warning. The teacher is having the students use their shoes improperly and not for the purpose the manufacturer designed them.


Furthermore, if the students are rising to full releve on the box at the barre, I can only imagine that the students are holding themselves with their arms at the barre (quite desparately, I would imagine) because the shoes do not have a proper shank to give any support. I do not see how this improperly designed exercise could possibly be benefitting the dancers in terms of developing strength.


Based upon all I have learned here and from DD's home academy (which is staffed by appropriate degree-only teachers with professional experience and many years of teaching experience), the pre-pointe class your DD is in would give me great pause. I believe your instincts to be concerned are well-founded.

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Excellent post, dancemaven. All of the factors very well stated. The only thing I have to say is that PRE-pointe means BEFORE pointe, at least it certainly does to me! Therefore, PRE-pointe classes and PRE-pointe shoes mean one is not yet all the way up on pointe! Period. End of discussion. Pre-pointe shoes do not, or certainly should not, since they are not meant for going on pointe, have any shank at all. There is no intention of the students rising to full pointe in these shoes.


I'm sorry, but it really sounds to me like this teacher does not know what she is doing. I'm with the others here who are saying run, not walk, better yet fly, out of this studio!

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Right now they are only using the shoes for about 15 minutes every other day. We worked with the lambswool a bit last night and she was no longer hurting


I with Taradriver and am hoping something is getting lost in the translation. But if not, then CourtneyS, I'm not sure you are understanding. I will try and re-phrase for emphasis. Shoes without shanks are not meant for your daughter to be on the tips of (standing on toes) in any shape, form or fashion regardless of the amount of padding used or whether there is a barre or not. Demi-pointe shoes are not meant to go on the toes in. PERIOD!

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