While I was in Colorado, I made an appointment to get a proper pointe shoe fitting since my local shop is so lacking. I had gotten a recommendation for Assemblé Dancewear in Castle Rock, and Noel (one of the owners) had a great reputation for fittings, so I decided to give it a try. I was super impressed and pleased with my experience! Noel really knew his stuff, and even taught me some things about pointe shoes I didn't know (and should have, since I've been on pointe for so long! I felt a little ashamed.)
The first thing Noel did was to examine my feet thoroughly, testing my flexibility and strength with his hands. Next, he looked at my old shoes (the Bloch Heritage) and examined the wear patterns on them (he was pleased it was even. Yay me!) We discussed what padding I was using (way too much, in both our opinions), and problems (my lovely bruised toe nail because of the sinking). Then he had me put them on so he could see them, and informed me that we could do better (I should hope so!)
I'd brought all the toe pads I owned with me, just in case, and that ended up being a good thing. He immediately disliked the Pillows for Pointes Lambswool pads because they break down too quickly, and thought the Gellows were too thick (I had been using them with the Heritage because of the slippage). He favored the Ouch Pouch for me, not only because it was thinner, but because it exactly covered my toes where it needed to. We also added in a proper spacer between my big and second toes, as I have enough of a gap there to warrant one (I had been using one, but it was too thick and short, so we changed it up). The only other thing he suggested (based on my feet), was that I tape my pinky toes. Simple, and quick--I like!
After this, we started trying shoes. I tried each pair on with the spacer, tape, and ouch pouches, and did various things at the barre. He had me relevé, plié in first position, sous-sus and bourrée (switching feet), and later had me do échappé, all while carefully watching my feet and my overall positioning/technique. After, we would take off the shoes and he would examine my feet again to see if the pressure points were where they should be. He explained that the support of the shoe comes from the entire box--the sides, top, and platform all need to work together in the right combination to help keep my foot from slipping down and causing things like bruised toenails.
We had three good contenders, which included the Grishko 2007! I had originally been fit in that shoe at home, but didn't end up wearing it because my teacher didn't like it (note to self: that fitter at least had a good clue). In the end I went with the Russian Pointe Entrada Pro. It felt the best, and in Noel's opinion, looked the best.
The RP Entrada Pro in action!
Other things I learned: I have sweaty feet (ew), so they might break my shoe down more quickly. I can help prevent this by spraying some Arrid Extra Dry on them. Also, I need to work on my core strength, but Noel said I had great feet and technique, and "made all [his] shoes look good." Hee!
I wore the shoes for the intensive, and had no major issues. My bruised toenail bugged me a little, especially when the box was fresh and new, but Noel had given me a thin silicone sleeve to put over it while it was still healing. By Saturday, they felt great and I had no pain! I've also had no blisters, which is delightful. The shop gave me a "pointe shoe activity log" in which I am to keep track of how many minutes I spend doing activity in the pointe shoes, in order to see how quickly they break down (and what breaks down first). I was told the goal was to get the shoes to last 20 hours.
I'm bummed the shop is not in my state, but I can order future shoes from them, so that's awesome. I can also call and talk to Noel if I have any questions/to discuss issues (i.e. if it breaks down too quickly, we can maybe come up with solutions to fix that). We'll see how it goes from here, but so far so good. I love finally having a little bit of pointe shoe success!