Talking Pointe | Q & A with an Energetiks Pointe Shoe Fitter
For anyone that loves ballet, the allure of pointe shoes is pretty self-evident.
Like the artist’s paintbrush, pointe shoes are the resounding symbol of classical dance; eluding to both the elegance and virtuosity of the female dancer, and also the rigour and sacrifice of the ballet artform.
Understanding the intricacies and complexity of the modern pointe shoe design requires not just the insight of a dancer who has worn the shoes themselves, but an analytical attention to detail and comprehensive knowledge of the characteristics of a dancer’s feet.
With hundreds of different combinations of toe shape, foot length, width, flexibility, strength and compressibility (seriously, see for yourself), and almost as many different styles of pointe shoes, the language of a pointe shoe fitter is as layered and dimensional as the tulle of any tutu.
In addition to knowing all there is to know about different feet and every style of pointe shoe, fitters must also be talented communicators and have a passion for working one-on-one with the dancer to understand their individual needs; guiding them through the fitting process in such a way that every dancer feels confident and happy with the shoes they walk away with.
It’s no wonder then, that becoming a pointe shoe fitter is an incredibly special accomplishment, after all, it’s your fitter that has the privilege of being the one to make your first pointe shoe fitting both truly special and uniquely memorable.
We thought it was high-time we shared a little more about some of the amazing pointe shoe fitters who make up our team of talented dancewear consultants, so we sat down to talk with our lovely Ivanhoe Store Manager and professional pointe shoe fitter, Nicole Gilmartin. See the Q&A below.
Name: Nicole Gilmartin
Role: Energetiks Ivanhoe Store Manager
First memory of dance: 5 years old attending jazz class at Maureen Coleman in a hall in Greensborough.
Dance background: 19 years of training starting at Dance Plus with Marilyn Jacka, full-time courses with The Edge Performers School and The National Ballet Theatre, casual training at Spectrum Dance and open classes. Then professionally, contracts with Hong Kong and Tokyo Disneyland, Dubai Rugby 7s, Melbourne Storm, Simple Talent Management Mumbai, The Australian Rihanna & Lady Gaga Show, City of Dreams Casino Mumbai and various corporate and commercial work across Australia.
Years as a professional pointe shoe fitter: Over 6 years.
E: Do you recall getting your first pair of pointe shoes?
N: Yes. It was a little scary as I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was excited though for pointe work, and to become a stronger dancer.
E: What do you love about the experience of dancing en pointe?
N:I love the aesthetic of pointe work, the illusion of floating and appearing weightless on stage. As a dancer, feeling each skill become easier and more controlled is very satisfying.
E: What do you enjoy most about your job as a professional Energetiks pointe shoe fitter?
N: I love being presented with a unique set of circumstances each time – type of foot, shoe requirements, preferences, and finding the best shoe to fit and support each dancer individually.
E: Tell us a little about the training process, are there many things you look for when fitting a dancer’s shoes?
N: Pointe shoe training at Energetiks requires extensive theoretical and practical understanding. We are trained to assess each foot based on shape, flexibility, strength and alignment. We then match these characteristics to a shoe that will best support the dancer.
E: What’s your main priority when fitting a dancer in new pointe shoes?
N: I'd have to say a really important element is listening to the dancer; listening to what their requirements are going to be on pointe; how often they're going to be on pointe. In combination with analysing their feet and the characteristics of their feet to find a shoe that provides the best level of comfort and support, and that both the fitter and dancer are happy with. Getting that feedback from the dancer throughout the fitting process, so that when they leave they're completely satisfied!
E: Finish this sentence ‘a correctly fitted pointe shoe should’ –
N: Match the dancers foot in order to provide the best level of comfort that we can for that dancer, and also ensure that they feel supported on pointe so that they can train and perform to their best ability. This means providing the right amount of contact points while on flat, allowing the foot to roll through demi-pointe easily, holding the foot in a supported position and being aligned while en pointe.
E: What advice would you offer to dancers about to go for their first pointe shoe fitting?
N: Firstly ensure you have approval from your teacher and a dance physio prior to beginning pointe work. Secondly, your first fitting is such an exciting time, no need to be apprehensive! Energetiks fitters are here to walk you through the process in a nurturing and informative way.
E: Do you have a favourite Energetiks pointe shoe?
N: I would have to say our Sapphire pointe shoe. The pre-arched shank mimics the shape of the foot and the v-cut with no drawstring gives a sleek, finished line. On the correct foot it is absolutely stunning.
E: What's your favourite memory related to pointe?
N: The first time I could fouetté en pointe. I remember feeling as if I would never get it, and when I did I was on top of the world!
If you would like a professional Pointe Shoe Fitting by one of our experienced team, call or email us today to make an appointment. See our store locations and contact details here.
Article by Elly Ford