Pre-arching is a specific response by Russian Pointe’s master cobblers in Moscow to dancers’ needs. Our cobblers spent years developing a special construction process that would make pointe shoes better mimic the shape of the foot on pointe. The method they developed reduces stress on the foot and shoe, without compromising the classic, traditional shape and function of the pointe shoe.
Russian Pointe pre-arching isn’t limited to a pre-arched shank. Instead, pre-arched models are created with a unique construction process throughout the entire shoe. They are crafted to have a subtly curved shape throughout the upper (fabric), box and sole. You can get a hint at this difference just by pulling gently at the heel binding of a pre-arched model and a non-pre-arched model.
One of the effects of pre-arching is to make the break-in process more accurate, predictable and natural-feeling. Although a pre-arched shoe must be molded to the foot during break-in, just like other pointe shoes, it often works more precisely with the foot from the beginning. This reduces stress on the shank and box during the break-in process, which can make the supportive qualities last longer. The shoe’s shape also reduces stress on the foot itself; dancers with high arches feel this difference immediately when they try a pre-arched model. Pre-arching isn’t just for high-arched dancers, though. Dancers with average arches often feel the same benefits, and those with low arches often find it more natural to reach full pointe in a pre-arched shoe. Dancers also report less stress on the Achilles tendon, feeling more lifted and supported. Most also appreciate the way pre-arching highlights their arches, for a prettier line.
For some dancers, pre-arching meets a specific need and makes a truly significant difference to their pointework. Many others enjoy the pre-arched shape, without necessarily “needing” it in the same way. Some dancers – perhaps a smaller number – prefer a shoe without pre-arching. Every dancer has unique feet and technical needs, and whether a model is pre-arched or not, the goal is to find perfect placement – centered on the platform, neither struggling to reach full pointe nor pushing too far forward.
Pre-arching is not a substitute for good technique, and does not force proper pointe placement. In pre-arched pointe shoes, dancers use their strength and articulation just as they do in other shoes. To see how subtle the pre-arched shape is, try standing on flat with a pre-arched model on one foot and another model on the other foot. You may notice a gentle arch “hug” from the pre-arched model, but the weight of your body will flatten both soles toward the floor.
Because the entire model is created around the pre-arched shape, pre-arching can’t be “added” to an existing model. However, if you have a model you like but wish it had pre-arching, you may be able to choose a pre-arched model that will also meet your needs. Originally, pre-arching was only available in Entrada, from the Classic Collection. Today, we have six pre-arched models! Rubin and Sapfir from the Jewels Collection, and Lumina, Brava and Encore from the Spotlight Collection are all pre-arched, suiting a variety of foot shapes.
This article first appeared in Russian Pointe Newsletter, May 2010
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