Pointe Shoe Fitting

Once upon a time I entered this contest and somehow actually won and thought it was a scam, but then it wasn’t.

(A little update from that post: Dianne had emailed me and asked if it would be better for me to go to the Austin store instead of the Dallas store, so I got to cut my travel time in half and see some of my dance friends in the process.)
So yesterday I took a couple friends and we trekked up to Austin.

 First we met up with my dear friend Leslie. I met her when I first started dancing at Instep Dance Studios. She was the Administrative Assistant, and actually the first person I spoke to there. (besides my friends who recommended Instep to me.) Leslie got married last year and she and her husband moved to Austin this summer. It was so good to see her.

From there we headed to Capezio. And let me tell you, I was nervous. I was so hopeful that this was what I needed to finally solve my pointe shoe problem, but so nervous that it would be another dead end. This wasn’t the first time I’d gone out of town for a pointe shoe fitting. This wasn’t the second time. And with this most recent ankle roll from my shoes, I was desperate. The people here locally can’t help me and I have to have pointe shoes to dance on, so what am I going to do?
Then the fact that I’m 26. Would they judge me or treat me different? Were they expecting a 13 year old? would they just kinda give up on me, thinking I should know better and have all the answers? that seems to be a theme in my life. Then I was nervous about the fact that I don’t have a dancer’s body. I’m doing all I can to tone up and slim down, and I’ve come a long way, but with all my stomach issues and freaking injuries keeping me from doing what I need to outside of dance to lose the inches (and just as I’m starting to see results…) It’s been a slow process. I didn’t want the fears in my head to be confirmed and the voices I hear tearing me apart to become human form. I just want to dance. I just want to feel alive.
I walk in and meet Amanda (I think was her name?) who lead me to Jordan, the lady who I believe is the manager. She was the one that Dianne had sent me to and the one who would be handling everything.
I sat down.
“What shoes do you currently wear?”
“Currently, Grishko 2007s. But they caused me to roll my ankle, so.”
“What did you like and not like about them?”
“I love the box. It’s perfect. Best thing I’ve ever put on. But they seem to twist on my feet. And I had asked the lady who was fitting me about that and she said it was fine. But it’s not. Hence the rolled ankle. My foot is really wide, but only at the toe here. It’s kinda narrow in the back. My friend called it a Phantom heel, I think?”
“Can I see your feet?”
I take off my shoes and socks and show her my gimpy feet, telling her about my tiny toes and how the San Antonio guy told me he had seen worse, but still had a heck of a time fitting me. I told her how I liked my Russians, but they just hurt so badly that I couldn’t do anything. I told her how I liked my Gaynors, but they weren’t tapered enough.
She walked to the back and was gone for several minutes. She comes back with her arms loaded with pointe shoes.

And when I took this picture, she was in the back getting even more pointe shoes. I decided I wanted this place to be my closet. She came back with another arm full, sat on the floor, then asked, 
“What size shoe do you wear?”
“A 9 1/2.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Man. You’re good.”
I tried on the Capezio Tiffany’s first, and I was amazed at how she was able to keep the different styles organized with so many shoes out. She explained how she could tell which shoe was which by the shape and color and other things. It was amazing. Side note, this is also when I managed to throw poop into the conversation. Really, don’t ask.
I tried on the Tiffany’s and liked them, but they shifted, which scared me. She explained the different reasons a shoe may shift, and the ways to figure out through, process of elimination, how to fix the issue. I was blown away.  
Then she brought out the Capezio Studios. She explained how they are a new shoe, and that typically you’re either made for this shoe and nothing else, or everything else but this shoe. She then explained how Capezio’s are typically made “broken in” but the studio’s weren’t. They had this crazy elastic instead of a drawstring and were definitely hard as rocks. Kind of like the Russians. She explained them as a Freed/Grishko hybrid. I named them “Frishko’s.” They weren’t bad, but they definitely weren’t my favorites. Weird, for sure, but a great concept. 
Then I tried on the Capezio Glisse’s. They felt alright, but I wasn’t sure if I preferred them over the Tiffany’s or not. 
She got a different size of the Tiffany’s so I could get a proper feel for which I preferred.  She asked how I felt in them and I told her they felt good, to which she responded, “These aren’t my favorite on you. I wouldn’t want you to have these shoes. Do you know why?” Of course, I didn’t. “Because I can see that your toes are crunching in your shoe. Not so much the right foot, but the left.
Side note: for some reason, my left big toe is crunchy. My right big toe will pointe like a dream, but my left crunches. I mentioned this to the San Antonio pointe shoe fitter, and they told me, “You’re going to have to get over it.” 
When she was able to identify that just by looking at me in the shoe for .2 seconds, I wanted to hug her, bless her, cry, and scream, “THANK YOU FOR ACTUALLY KNOWING WHAT THE HECK YOURE DOING AND TELLING ME WHAT I SHOULD AND SHOULDN’T FEEL BECAUSE I HAVE NO IDEA AND YOU ARE HELPING ME INSTEAD OF JUST GOING WITH WHAT I SAY. OH MY GOSH, THANK YOU.” all at the same time. It was a magical moment.
Then she had me try on the Capezio Aria’s. She told me if she were to look at my feet and know nothing about what I like and didn’t like, she would have put me in the Aria’s. She also told me that she didn’t think they would be right, but wanted to try them anyway. They were not my favorite, so we eliminated them and were down to the Tiffany’s or the Glisse’s.
“Here, try these on.”
“Which ones are these?”
“I’m not going to tell you. People can get caught up on a name, and I want you to throw that out the window and choose by what feels better.”
So I tried on the first one, went to the barre, stood in them, got a good feel. Then I put on the other ones, and stood at the barre. As soon as I did, I said, “These are the Tiffany’s, aren’t they?”
She asked how I could tell and I told her I could definitely feel the difference in the toe crunching in them. 
Jordan was a definite game changer for my dance “career” if you want to call it that. I came in to this just after I turned 23 and was having to re-learn everything because the little experience I had was wrong. I had a supportive and wonderful studio, now I just needed someone open minded and kind hearted like that to fit me for pointe shoes. Everyone kept asking me, “How do they feel?” Without taking into consideration that I have no idea how they should feel and can’t really tell you. I wrote it off as just one of those things you have to figure out as you go, but man this is exhausting and I’m falling behind.
Jordan told me all about different toe pads and which ones are better for what different things. She showed me tricks to help the blister on my pinkie toe knuckle, and was even able to pick out leotards that had longer girths, despite their size listed, in 2.7 seconds. 
I was a very happy camper. 
I have always loved Capezio, and I am so happy to say they still haven’t disappointed me. I could forever sing their praises. It says a lot to me for such a big name company to care about the little people who will never make it big or go into a company or anything, and giving me just as much opportunity as anyone else. They treated me like a prima ballerina, and This is an experience I will never forget.

After we left Capezio, we went and found the graffiti park and took some pictures. (My friend Andie also does Irish Dance, so she brought her shoes to get some great pictures with.)
I do photography, and I shoot a lot of dancers, and one of the things that make the dancer feel the best is when a passerby comments on how cool that is, or a little kid is overheard saying, “Look, a pretty ballerina!” While we were there, I overheard people commenting, “Look at the ballerina!” and I caught junior high Homecoming kids putting me in the background of their pictures. (I was okay with it, of course.) And it was the first time I ever felt like a ballerina. So often I see myself as lesser than other dancers. I don’t feel like I measure up, I see how far behind I am, I see how far I have to go and all the places I fall short. But these people saw me standing there for the shot, and they saw a ballerina. They didn’t pick apart my technique, they didn’t say how I probably couldn’t do xyz, I didn’t hear one negative word. 
We moved up to a higher level, where there was flat ground and I did some pique turns. A girl walking by while I was turning said, “That was really pretty!” as she passed. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to hunt her down, get a picture with her, and hug her. Other people also walked by and commented on how cool it was or how good it looked. 
And at first, I didn’t think they were talking about me. Because all the other times I’ve heard it, they were talking about the dancer I was shooting. But this time, I was the dancer. 
I was the ballerina.
Rolled ankle and wonky shoes and all. 
I can’t explain how good that made me feel.
Thank you, kind strangers, for saying such nice things when you didn’t have to. It meant more than you’ll ever know.

We also found this really awesome ode to Nerdfighteria. The people we encountered in Austin definitely reduced world suck. And I was so glad to have a fellow Nerdfighter along with me. It was a pretty great moment.
(That’s just my feet while Kristin was shooting Andie. Because, why not?)
Then we met up with my dance friend, Annabelle. I met her at Instep when I first started dancing. She was one of the first people to speak to me there and got her pointe shoes a year before me. I took her senior pictures that November, and the rest is history. Now she is one of my main models when she’s in town and never disappoints. She’s also one of my dearest friends. I wish we could have stayed longer, but having the few hours with her did wonders for my soul.
Annabelle has this roommate she met last year whose name is Emily. We decided that we are clones (I mean, seriously, down to minute details) but had never met. Well, she got home right before we got back to their apartment, and so I got to meet her and OH MY GOSH IT WAS GREAT. I had called her when we first met up with Annabelle, but it went to voicemail. which is when I realized I had never heard her voice before. I left a ridiculous voicemail that was perfect. When Annabelle opened the door, we freaked out and hugged for practically forever. It was great. I felt like we had known each other for years.
That’s us, with Andie creepin’ like a pro.
Andie, Annabelle, Emily, and me. Such a happy hug of friends 🙂 
Then we drove back home that night, almost got hit by a mini cooper convertible with 3 guys in it. Those three guys ended up playing cat and mouse for the next 30 minutes til they exited, and it was hilarious.
Then we realized when we stopped at a gas station that I left my purse at Annabelle’s. We were an hour and a half home already and I wasn’t about to go back. I was thinking how Annabelle could use my card to pay for shipping to get it back to me, when I remembered that Leslie is coming down this week for our dance festival that is this weekend. (Win!) So we carried on and got home after 1am. 
Don’t mind how messy the foreground and background are, but this was all the FREE stuff I got from Capezio. Glisse pointe shoes, elastics, ribbons, (would have gotten toepads had I used the ones they had, but I didn’t, so that’s all good.) And that sweet Capezio cup! Any ballet dancer out there knows how much money that is that I just saved, but let me tell you, Capezio is a genius for it. As if they didn’t already have a lifetime advocate for their leotards that actually fit my long torso, they now have my infinite pointe shoe business. (unless there was something Jordan missed, which would surprise me. And which I would also just pay her another visit for her genius and get whatever shoes she thought were best.)
Words can not express my gratitude to Capezio. Seriously. To say this changed my life wouldn’t be an understatement. Now I’m just anxious for my ankle to heal so I can start wearing these puppies!

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