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Ballet Talk for Dancers

I am so upset right now

Je Suis Aimee

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I just fell really badly in class. And all for trying to save money. This goes back to a pair of Freed Wing Block F makers that I've mentioned here and there, that have so much paste in the boxes that they feel plasticized. I'd slipped in them various times before and because of that, I hadn't worn them for a while. But they just had so much life left in them, that I wanted to try to make them wearable. So I cut the satin off the tips, and roughed up the canvas underneath using a cheese grater.


Well, it didn't make a dang bit of a difference!! And ironically, I didn't fall during a pirouette or something challenging, like I'd feared; I fell during a sissone-failli-assemble of all things. Both my feet slipped out from under me and I fell flat on my face - and on my knee. I've never had a pair of shoes give me these kinds of problems, ever. I'm also incredibly upset that I spent $85 on a pair of shoes that I now cannot use in class.


And even though I'm convinced these shoes are death traps, I feel so inept!! :grinning: Does anyone have any falling stories to share with me so I can feel less alone? :rolleyes:

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I think it's time to look for a better fitter! I'll PM you a good place, although you'll have to travel a bit for it.


And, yes, I've fallen quite a few times while doing pointe in the past year or so. One dramatic fall luckily didn't result in injury but I had to really contemplate the ceiling for a while while testing out which limbs might have been hurt...

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Oh yeah, have definitely fallen before. Some examples... Once noisily but harmlessly (in pointe shoes) while practicing a concept that the teacher was explaining. A bit embarassing, but I was totally fine. Once not-so-harmlessly (not in pointe shoes) landing from a plain old grand jete... It took more than two months on crutches/in an Aircast and another four months of regaining mobility and rebuilding strength to even contemplate pointe again.


And though my insurance thankfully reimbursed the costs of crutches, Aircast, and physio, I incurred WAY more than $85 in cab fare to get around during those two+ months. And that was even with continuing on public transit whenever it was feasible. Count yourself lucky! :grinning:

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Thanks guys. Ugh well my knee is sore at the moment but I am glad that it isn't worse... so far I don't have any bruising but we'll see tomorrow.

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You are definitely not alone in the falling category... I fell very unceremoniously during my exam and I wasnt even doing anything too challenging (picked up pas de bourre's - sorry dont know what the proper term is). I was tired at the end of my exam and down I went with a rather large ungraceful thump onto the floor :grinning: and I cannot even blame the shoes!

I wear glasses (and need to) but I dont wear them when I dance so I am sure it doesnt leave too much to the imagination of how many times the blur just wasnt clear enough and oops.....

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Yep, I've fallen quite a few times (not en pointe though)...especially when I was first learning pirouettes and double pirouettes. I learnt to fall without hurting myself too much but it was always pretty embarrassing. And death trap shoes are horrible...I have more than one pair of almost brand-new pointe shoes that are death traps so I can relate to the waste-of-money situation.


Balletlove - in your exam? That's unfortunate. But I'm sure you picked yourself up and carried on...and remember you passed, so it's fine! And the step you are referring to is a pas de bourrée piqué :grinning:

And is there any reason you can't wear contact lenses? I could NOT dance without correcting my vision at all; my depth perception would be completely off and I kind of enjoy being able to see the teacher! :rolleyes:

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I've got one that's sure to make you feel great. I fell... hard. I mean drop, roll a few times, and tangle with partner, fall trying to get untangled - but the worst part was I did this in front of Tiit Helimets of SF Ballet. :jawdrop:

We were working on the Princess Florine & Bluebird pdd and he taught us the not terribly complicated lift - essentially, all I have to do is a basic fouetté and my partner has to get under and pick me up onto his shoulder. Flutter-flutter, pretty ending, right? Wrong! I don't know what went wrong, but I must have lost it during the actual lift and didn't keep my core tight enough after making it onto his shoulder. I nearly tumbled off my partner's shoulder, and because he was awesome, he caught me, but I had flailed and hooked my legs.. we both went down. I rolled and we got tangled immediately. When we tried to get back up, we were still tangled and so we fell again.


The worst part was, Mr. Helimets is such a sweet guy. He ran to help us immediately and kept asking us if we were really all right. My dignity and body was very bruised. Hahaha!

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I had a wonderful ( former ABT) teacher who congratulated people who fell in class (after making sure they weren't hurt). She said it meant they were giving it their all: not dancing timidly, but going full out.

So...congratulations and hope you're knee feels better soon.

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I fell wonderfully and spectacularly in a centre pirouette combination. And the really funny thing was, it was on the simplest turn of the combination! Sailed through the doubles and the turns in attitude, and then we had to do a three-quarters turn a terre, and over I went. It was hilarious!


Not so hilarious a couple of weeks later, though, falling and breaking my wrist rather badly the first ever time I tried to ice-skate ...


My pro-dancing sister says that Bill Forsythe loved it when his dancers fell over because it meant they were pushing the choreography. And his stuff has quite a lot of material that plays around with pushing the dancer's centre of gravity. So you're in a grand tradition!

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Wow, thanks for all the stories and empathy! I am happy to say that my knee did not swell and in fact didn't even bruise, thank goodness.


Ce - Thanks :blushing: You know, I have read that on here before, and I was keeping it in mind yesterday, because it actually was what happened: I was doing my little variation in center for the last time in the class before going home - by myself to top it off, because I was wearing my pointe shoes in a beginner class - and I was like OK, I'm going to give this my all! Especially since the shoes were so hard and they really required a lot of effort to do everything. So there I was, doing my best to take these huge leaps in sissone, and that's when I fell! :pinch: Le sigh. Well, at least it was a step in the right direction, in the end. :jawdrop:

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Je Suis-

Are they too hard in the demi-pointe area, the entire insole, or the block? What have you done to soften them and where? I see that you cut out the satin, but have you also tried some slices in the outsole, and/or roughing up the outsole with a wire brush?

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Clara - I would say that it's the box that is quite hard. The demi pointe has softened up but not to the degree that I would like. Even though I can tell the shoes have broken in and molded to my feet quite a bit - because at the beginning they were rock hard - they are still very stiff to work with. And the box/pleat area is very loud still.


I have just softened them by wear, and have manually massaged the box and bent the shank a little after each use. To get more traction I cut off the satin both at the platform and at the pleats where it had frayed. Then I scraped the exposed canvas against a cheese grater (it was all I had :blushing: ), both the platform and the pleat area, until it looked fluffy and like it would certainly provide more traction. I think it may have helped just a teensy bit at the beginning of class, but by the end, it was back to that plastic-on-plastic feel. After I fell I examined my shoes any all the fluffiness was gone and they were back to feeling like plastic-coated canvas. These shoes really seem to have hardcore paste in them and tons of it. Would it help, you think, to do something a little more drastic like wet the tips and pleats? Of course, that's no guarantee that I would have the guts to ever wear them again... :o


Maybe I didn't rough them up enough? I just wasn't sure how far I could go before damaging the shoe. So you're saying I should scrape the leather outsole as well? Personally I feel like the pleat area and edge of platform is the problem.

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You could try steam from a tea kettle, but before we do that, do the shoes fit your feet well? Are they nice & snug with no space, or can you fit fingers in between the vamp and toes?


I'm thinking that it could be several things:

It could be that the blocks need a bit more futzing with, and perhaps even 3/4ering the insole might help. Yes, roughing up the outsole sometimes helps with this issue as well.

It could be that there is a technique issue that has cropped up, and the shoes brought it out, like not quite controlling rotation, or ankles not fully stretched.

It could be that there is a 'mental block' with this pair from the beginning since they are so hard.

Or it could be that you have a funky pair.


Make sure the insole and outsole are not put in crooked; check that the side seams are relatively across from each other; check the platforms for any bumps or angles. Also, what letter is in the heel area?


If it's not any of the above, then try steaming the blocks. When the kettle is whistling, don an oven mitt and hold the block over the steam letting it roil about inside the shoe. Let it steam for about 1 minute, then let them cool off for a short bit. Put the shoes on and do housework! Let the shoes dry on your feet, and see if that helps. To bend the insoles further, put the shoe on and peel the heel back and off. Use your hands to bend the insole against your arch while you're pressing overpointe.

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Yes, the shoes are absolutely nice and snug. I bought these at the Freed showroom under the supervision of one of their fitters, so I'm confident in that they were fit properly. I'll check the heel for the letter this evening since I'm at work right now. I know the platforms don't have any flaws, in fact, they provide wonderful placement.


I'm kind of intrigued, though: most of your suggestions sound like they are for help getting up en pointe. That is a minor issue due to the hardness, and I really like the idea of 3/4ing the insole as I think that would help my controlling my pointework. But since my fall occured doing nothing en pointe, rather leaping instead, it seems to hone in that the problem is the underneath of the shoe, in the demi/pleat area, and I now see that I don't even have to attempt anything en pointe in them to slip and fall. In fact, any steps pique-ing onto pointe and releve-ing are safe. It's when I need to use the demi for traction and force, like pirouette from 4th, leaps, etc., that the shoes just randomly give and slip. I'm not even sure roughing them up more would help, if they're utterly saturated in paste.


Would steaming the blocks help modify the texture of the outside of the shoe? That is what I feel that I really need - something to make the pleat area not as ultra-hard and plasticky, so that it will grip the floor more.

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Can you do me a favor and measure the length of the pleats?

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