This photo wasn’t really planned. I just took out my old slippers to try them on and decide what size to get for my next pair. Then it struck me: Wow, you have a lot of old shoes. And then this picture happened. My stubby toes even made it in there!
Those in the top row all have holes, some I mended and then wore holes through the darning or patch. I just can’t throw them away, even after they are no longer fit to be worn. We have gone through so much together (sentimental sigh…). These are not ALL of my ballet slippers, but all I have kept. I used to wear some around the house since I was fifteen, just because that was the closest I thought I could get to ballet. Those were thrown away when they got holes. And my very first ones I wore to class, pink leather with a full sole, too. They were so ugly, and I only wore them for the first few classes before I got canvas slippers. Another pair was too small and I tried to make them bigger and ruined them. Now, I seem to be a little obsessed with my feet, as I said before, and so have always been looking for better and better slippers with every new pair. I even made a booklet with the measurements of my feet and different models of slippers described in it, with pros and cons of every model and size. Ok, I was REALLY obsessed.
The first ones in the top left corner are from Sansha, Pro 1C. They pinched my instep and had a lump under the toes, so my next pair was from Grishko. Since our city only has one dance shop and they only have about five models, I had to order some from the internet. Grishko have a great selection of widths, and I like their low vamps which make my wide, short feet look better. There are four pairs of Grishko slippers in that picture, and I’m going to order another pair. Dancechoice sends them directly from the factory, with free shipping. The only downside is that it takes about a month for them to arrive. Not too good when you’re impatient. The third pair are Bloch Pro Arch, which I miraculously found in Munich (the only pair in the shop) when I was there for a workshop. They are very comfy and cool, but didn’t look too good with the mesh in the arch. The next are R-Class (Russian Pointe, they are just named differently in Europe). These were very comfortable, but a little too big, and made my feet look extremely wide. The ones on the right are Bloch Pumps. These make a beautiful arch and line when the foot is pointed, but felt very thick under the toes and got holes at the seams. The very long vamp pinched me, though, and I had to move the drawstring knot to the side.
In the next row are my demi-pointes. Those are only for when I practice at home, to strengthen my feet. Then my current pair, Grishko Model 1. They have no drawstring and come without elastics, so I had to buy some. They have a wide sole which is sewn all the way through, you can wash them again and again and they don’t come apart. I got them in July and used them almost every day, and they held up really well. Then there are some Grishko Ultimates that are still whole, but a little tight. I keep these for when my feet lose some weight, or as emergency replacements. The last row has two pairs that I modified a lot because the fit wasn’t great. It still isn’t, but I keep them for emergencies. The left are KH Martin Stretch One, Low Cut (haha). The vamp was still so high it hurt me, and I cut it down. These are stretchy, but only lengthwise, and made asymmetrically. They fit beautifully en demi-pointe, but when I point they bunch horribly. The right ones are Bloch Pump again, they were too narrow, so I slit the vamp and sewed in some elastic to make them adapt. I swear, I used to fiddle with my slippers more than the average ballerina with her pointe shoes! But it has got better now that I dance more. My feet are less sensitive to a pinching shoe, and there are more important things than the perfect fit now, things like dancing!
I’m still looking for the perfect model. Many that were recommended at Ballet Talk for Dancers etc. are not available where I live. The shipping costs from overseas would be more than the cost of the shoes! Plus, there is no guarantee they will fit. But when I travel, I sometimes go looking for dance shops and try on shoes. Last winter in Lausanne, I was looking at Wear Moi slippers, but they had this extremely small sole. The Russian soles are much bigger, and absolutely flat. There are some new stretchy shoes I’d like to try some day, but until I get a chance to try them on, I’ll stick with the Grishkos.