Shoes for Narrow Low Profile Egyptian Feet
My daughter is getting ready to start her third year of pointe and we have gone through more pairs of shoes/brands than I care to think about. She has long toes, narrow feet with narrow heels (that are close to disappearing heels). We settled on Grishko 2007s and a professional fitter put her in a 7X. Now it seems those are too narrow and I suspect the vamps may have been too short on all of them. She really liked the 2007 pro-flex for comfort but her teacher said she was rolling out of them. Any advice you have would be great, as I'm about ready to give up. We live three hours from any major city and there are no dance shops nearby with large stock.
I was somewhat stumped with this answer other than to suggest Bloch Axis or adding vamp elastic to the Grishkos - but thankfully Caron Jones, a highly experienced pointe shoe fitter and dancer was able to help. Here's her very comprehensive reply:
Marisa asked me if I had any suggestions for suitable pointe shoe.
Trial and error is all part of the pointe shoe journey. Trying on lots of shoes is a useful learning curve. Buying lots clearly isn't.
I suspect the reason your daughter hasn't found pointe shoes that she is completely happy satisfied with is that she has a number of requirements and that the solutions aren't going to be found is one particular "off the peg" shoe.
Although a shoe that looks good often fits well, don't be guided by aesthetics. Always put comfort, fit and function first.
Be careful about having a very long vamp because it can be uncomfortable going through demi-pointe and also feel restrictive across the metatarsal arch when the foot is flat. A V-vamp combined wtih a high vamp will probably provide enough support and coverage for the toe joints (knuckles). If your daughter can find a stock shoe that is a good fit and comfortable consider lengthening the vamp with vamp elastic.
I am aware that some dancers modify the heel of their shoes by either undoing the back seam and remodelling it or by taking off the binding/drawstring casing and cutting the shoe down then restitching it, often by hand. I know this sounds labour intensive, but these might be ways to avoid ordering specials. The placement of ribbons can also help to minimise creasing at the heel.
Not all manufacturers will make one off special orders, either. They set minimum quantiities.
The original Vaganova shoe offers the shape and vamp height that is nearest to your daughter's requirements. However, it is quite rigid and is deep at the heel. The Pro and the Pro-flex are lighter, quieter and more flexible especially around the wings but you still have the issue of masses of material around the disappearing heel when she's on pointe (I have the same problem).
Grishko's Maya II Pro is a variation on the Vaganova and might be worth a try. Ultimately though, if your daughter likes this make and can establish which model she prefers with regard to the box, it will probably be necessary to order the exact vamp height and heel height she requires. These styles are a little larger than the 2007 and may be 6.5xx or even xxx are the place to start.
Another option might be Gaynor Minden Box 2 in a narrow fit. I would suggest trying the supple shank as it falls right in the middle of their hardness/softness scale. The fit can be modified with their Totally Toes Dynamic Box Liners or Full Sockliners. They also sell vamp elastic (see video below). These shoes are low profile and the Sleek Fits are specifically cut for narrow heels.
Going for a low profile shoe may be a bit of a red herring though. Once you get the right width and the right shoe this may no longer be a major consideration. You might also be limiting your options from the outset. The reason I say this is because with a high arch and/or a high instep you need depth for coverage on pointe - otherwise your foot appears to be pouring out of the shoe which is what I think her teacher means.
Bloch's Axis could be another candidate, in the x fitting. An extra long vamp would be a special order and I think this manufacturer requires minimum quantity orders for specials.
Another shoe worth a try is Sansha's Legende. Available in an N fit, the shoe is pretty narrow anyway, so in this model in the medium fit is probably the one to try. This shoe also has a strong two thirds shank that flexes high up.
Gamba's 52 last used to be a godsend for narrow feet. No longer available but Me.me with their Gamba connections might be worth contacting. But again it would probably mean ordering specials.
Alicia Markova, I believe, wore Nicolinis. Capezio no longer make them though I imagine they still have the lasts. Pavlovas are similar also discontinued - though Capezio and some retailers might still have stock (some of our eBay sellers also have stock - see here).
Mark Suffolk makes narrow fittings and you can order shoes with an extra long vamp and the heel modifications you want.
If you can try as many of these as possible it would help your daughter establish what is truly right for her and comfortable but it's an expensive process and inconvenient if you are doing it all by mail order. If at the present time you want to go down the special order route then these are the two possibles I would put top of the list.
Gaynor Mindens are costly but they offer most of the things your daughter is looking for, particularly the Sleek fit model, and those dancers who wear them find them very comfortable. Grishkos Pro-flex Vaganova, I'm pretty confident that will be a good fit except for the depth at the heel.
Hope some of this is helpful.