Joffrey dancers offered custom shoe fitting

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A ballerina's grace, endurance and mobility weigh heavily on the dancer's toes-and on the pointe shoes she wears.

"It's their greatest tool," said ThePointeShop owner Josephine Lee, who travels the country offering custom fittings to ballerinas.

Pointe shoes are those shining, satin-covered slippers that make it possible for ballerinas to move elegantly while balancing entirely on their toes.

"Imagine all your weight... on your toes. So you have to make sure that you are supported," explained Joffrey's Head of Studio Company and Trainee Program Raymond Rodriguez.

Cue the pointe shoes, with hardened combination of papier-maché and glue protecting the feet of professional and amateur dancers. Rodriguez said a correct fit helps avoid problems like stress fractures and tendonitis.

Though essential, pointe shoes are not cheap. Rodriguez said on the low end they cost about $90 and you'll be lucky if they last you a full week at the highest levels of dance.

"Sometimes a couple days," said Joffrey Studio Company member Roma Catania of how long hers make it.

She said she regularly orders extras online or at stores; usually she sticks to a style that works.

But, Rodriguez explained, as students grow and correct technique, they may benefit from switching shoes.

That's part of what brought Lee to Joffrey's loop facility, Monday.

"It's trying to figure out the dancer's technique and figure out what we need to fix or overcompensate for," she said.

Lee first opened a brick and mortar location on the west coast, but in recent years has brought her business on the road to showcase the plethora of brands and shoe lines before dancers who don't have regular access to a custom fitting.

"We focus on fitting dancers in a very good fit so they can dance as long as they wish," she added.
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