Today we have a guest post from Lara–the editor of the Best Ballet Shoes blog….
My name is Lara and I recently began a website and blog all about the best ballet shoes. Having a low arch and a longer second toe, finding ballet shoes that fit was a bit of a challenge for me. But, it was worth the hunt – a great fitting shoe makes all the difference in your confidence and ultimately, your performance.
It must have been hard for my mother to drive me to ballet classes 4 times a week and buy me new shoes all the time. My mother had always dreamed of being a ballerina, but her immigrant parents didn’t have the money to send her to classes – so the dream continued through me, her first daughter. I felt I owed it to her to indulge in her dream for a while, and then I learned to love it.I also heard the story of how Mikhail Baryshnikov visited my uncle’s house in Washington DC and thought that was the coolest thing ever. I was meant to dance! What if he happened to visit the next time I visited – I could meet him and he could teach me so much! But alas, that never came to pass – he only came around that one time. The next time I “saw” him, he was playing opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City on HBO. (Another famous Russian in the arts, Mstislav Rostropovich, was also a part of extended family life, and I never met him either. I played cello for several years and he and I shared the same birth date – I thought it was meant to be!)
I danced for several years well into college and afterwards, recreationally. I loved dancing, but the time commitment against everything else I wanted to do didn’t allow me the opportunity to become a professional dancer. My ballet teacher once told me I would be a great corps dancer.
I began pointe when I was 17, and it felt so natural to rise to pointe – but that was about it. Dancing and moving in them was a different story. This is where I had my biggest challenge finding the right shoes. My teacher taught me how to stuff lamb’s wool into the box, break the shank, put moleskin on the tip – nothing seemed to really work. And that was the story of my first pair.
Next, I decided to try Gaynor Minden’s. They were all the rage – you didn’t have to use lamb’s wool or wear a toe pad at all! Alas, they were a little too “squishy” for me. By that time, I had a very strong arch, and needed a stronger shank than they could provide.
Finally – as if this was some kind of secret information I was never meant to know – my teacher filled me in on Grishko’s. She warned – the tip of the box is a little smaller to dance on – but the taller box and harder shank should work better for me. I was in heaven! The shoes held up to my foot so much better and the longer box gave more room for my weird longer second toe. I was a Grishko girl from then on.
But the journey is different for everyone. My mission is for every dancer to find their best possible pair. This includes helping parents of little ones to ensure their shoes are appropriate for learning technique. This is especially important for little girls as their feet grow to prevent injury later in life. I suffered with knee pain in my teens, and I am convinced that better ballet shoes during my training could have made the difference.
In my blog, I not only write about the different types of ballet shoes, but I also provide tips on how to sew ballet shoes, how to clean ballet shoes, etc. If you would like to read more, visit Best Ballet Shoes.
BIO: Lara Friesen is a newbie blogger and former recreational dancer. She hails from Cleveland, OH, where she learned ballet at the Cleveland School of Ballet as a child and later studied at Dance by Gloria until her mid-twenties. She now lives in San Francisco with her husband, where marketing is her full-time job.