Russian Pointe is all about helping dancers find their perfect fit, so we are delighted to hear how RP Vamp Elastic is helping some dancers refine the fit and support of their pointe shoes.
Adrienne Kerr, Ballet Idaho principal dancer and RP Pro, and RP Artist Beverly Abbott both started using vamp elastic last year. Both dancers were looking for extra support without restriction to their hard-working feet.
Discovering RP Vamp Elastic
Adrienne had known about vamp elastic for years but never tried it. “A lot of European dancers use it,” she notes. When she was experiencing metatarsal pain and noticed that she was going through shoes quickly, she thought of vamp elastic as a possible solution. “I looked for it on the Russian Pointe site, and I learned how to sew it from some of the professional dancers I follow on social media,” she says.
Adrienne has short toes, so that the Vamp 2 of her U-cut Rubins is a good length for her feet. “My Rubins hug my feet in all the right places,” she says. But vamp elastic gives a bit of extra support, especially when her feet are tired. “It’s very helpful. It helps you sustain, without exhausting your metatarsals and ankles,” she explains. It also makes her shoes last longer, she believes.
Beverly was happy with her Rubins but felt that her fit could be perfected, so she sent pictures to Russian Pointe asking for advice. “We decided that I should try Entrada Pro and use vamp elastic,” Beverly recalls. She learned that “the elastic would hold my very bendy feet without holding me back.”
Beverly wears a U-cut vamp in length 2 (when she wants more movement) or 3 (when she wants more support) and has been using vamp elastic in both vamp lengths, with a narrower strip in the longer vamp. “It’s stretchy but strong, and easy to sew in, and it doesn’t pull me back,” she says. She notes that wearing a vamp that is too long for the foot’s shape can restrict demi-pointe and cut into the foot, whereas the elastic gives support without these problems. “Vamp elastic is different from ankle elastic,” she adds. “It’s stronger and more supportive without as much give – but it stretches so you can use your feet.”
Only when they need it
Both Adrienne and Beverly use vamp elastic only when they need the extra support it provides. “It depends on what a role calls for,” Adrienne explains. This year’s spring season called for her to perform principal roles in both Agon and Raymonda, keeping her on stage most of the night, with high-impact choreography including the forced arches of Agon. “It was demanding, with a substantial amount of dancing in a short time,” she says. In contrast, she is using vamp elastic for rehearsals of Swan Lake but might not use it on stage because she is performing only Odile, a role that is intense but brief.
Beverly has a similar approach. “I don’t always need it,” she says, adding that she is more likely to want elastic when her feet are tired after a few hours on pointe. “I don’t use it as much with new shoes or early in the dance day,” she says. Beverly keeps two or three pairs of pointe shoes in rotation, with each pair lasting two or three weeks, which gives her a choice of shoes for any class or rehearsal. Sometimes she adds vamp elastic after a pair has started breaking in.
Vamp elastic is placed across the throat, or vamp opening, of the shoe. Adrienne cuts RP Vamp Elastic in half so that it is similar in width to ankle elastic, “but thicker and sturdier.” She places it straight across the throat of her shoe and sews it all around the drawstring casing, tucking the drawstring bow between the elastic and the shoe.
Beverly uses the full width of the elastic but typically customizes its shape. “I cut the corners to create a triangular shape, to avoid overlap,” (having the elastic extend too far into her toe box), she says. She estimates that the elastic goes 1-1.5 inches up her foot.
Who needs vamp elastic?
Not everyone needs vamp elastic, and it only makes sense to add anything to your pointe shoes if it is needed. Adrienne explains that vamp elastic is often useful for dancers with flexible ankles, flexible metatarsals or very high arches. Beverly concurs: “It’s for dancers with very flexible ankles who need a little more support to avoid going too far over box. Dancers who are experienced on pointe will know what they need and can tell if they’re going too far.”
Read more about using vamp elastic.
Shop for RP Vamp Elastic.