What to Expect at Your First Dance Shoe Fitting with Bloch
Is your child starting dancing this year and you are curious to know what to expect at their first dance shoe fitting? Dance writer, Emma Sandall found out the ins and outs from Bloch Fitting Expert and Area Manager for Bloch NSW stores, Karen Mathews. She goes through why a dance shoe fits and feels differently to a street shoe and why it is so important to get fitted correctly.
Unlike a street shoe, a dance shoe should fit like a glove to give the foot complete control and traction. Getting the right size and style early on is important as ultimately a shoe’s fit will affect your technique and your enjoyment. Here are a few ideas about what to expect when buying your first pair. Start at a store with an experienced fitter rather than heading to unknown territory online. Karen Mathews is the Area Manager for Bloch NSW stores and fits dozens of first timers a week. “People who come in don’t know there’s so much variety,” she says, “A specialist has all the information about the advantages and disadvantages of each type of shoe.”
Bloch stocks around nine different styles of ballet flat, seven styles of jazz shoe and eight styles of tap shoe. They all increase in half sizes and the ballet flats come in four different widths – A and B for the narrower foot; C is an average width; D is broad.
When trying on a shoe it is important to stand up and walk around because your foot is at its longest and widest when standing. Mathews asks people to point and flex their feet and rise on half pointe. “We’ve trained our eyes to know aesthetically if it’s a good fit. Where is the person’s toe in the shoe? Are they flat or crunched? It’s visual but it’s also using your hands,” Mathews says. Jazz shoes fit similarly to ballet flats. The leather is soft and it stretches and moulds to the foot with wear.
A tap shoe is more structured and the leather is stiffer. Toes should reach the end of the shoe without too much pressure. “It’s a fine line,” says Mathews, “You can’t feel what a customer is feeling but they should not be uncomfortable. Shoes are your instrument.”
Dancing shoes for children are not fitted with room to grow like school shoes. However, admits Mathews, “I am a little more generous with very young children because their feet grow so quickly!”
The store will provide you with appropriate stockings or socks to use with your fitting because what you wear inside the shoe will affect its fit. It’s a good idea to check with your school or teacher what the uniform requires, and at the same time find out if your teacher has a preference for the style of shoe to buy.
And enjoy the experience! As Mathews says, “your first dance shoe fitting is exciting. It’s special!”
Written by Emma Sandall
Emma Sandall danced with Bejart Ballet, the Royal Ballet, Scottish Ballet and West Australian Ballet. She writes for Dance Australia Magazine and has a regular column 'Ask Emma'.