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 Post subject: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2001 5:57 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 270
Location: Wisconsin
I don't know if this subject has ever been breached before on this site, but I'm throwing it out in the hopes that it hasn't. I have searched for comprehensive answers to the Great Gaynor Minden Debate - why some teachers believe GMs are good and why some believe they are bad for dancers, either beginning or advanced...and usually my answers are simply "they are bad" or "I love them" with nothing to back up the statement.<P>Could we please discuss why we think they are good, why we think they are bad, and if there is any definate research on either side of the topic?<P>I've been pondering this for quite a while.


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2001 6:49 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Well, Bree - of course we can discuss this. Since the shoe is rather unique - it takes time and thought for it to be considered.<P>I have to say right off that I personally have never worn them - but I have tried them on. Debbie and I (she's my teacher and a member of this board) went pointe shoe shopping one morning. We were both skeptical. We both tried them on and she bought a pair. I haven't heard and I should have asked her how she liked them - and I will next time I see her. <P>The first pair I put on had an extremely hard shank that was completely unusable to me. And, they threw me back on my heels, which of course if a big problem. I couldn't try on a lighter shank because they didn't have my size. But they did have Debbie's size, and she ended up buying the lightest shank and said that she could feel that they were much easier to work with the foot. She, too, thought the harder shank was impossible.<P>I did like the soft sock inside - that is a big improvement. However, I also very much like a shoe that conforms to the dancer's foot and from what I have heard GM's do not. <P>So, for those of you who have actually used these shoes - I would REALLY like to hear your thoughts....... <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 5:56 am 
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Location: Wisconsin
Could the argument be made that ANY shoe, not just Gaynors, could be harmful to the dancer's feet, if not fitted properly?<P>For example, some people believe that GMs constrict the feet and restrict them from truly working - they say the shoe holds the dancer up. Couldn't the same argument be made for shoes which are too stiff and hard for the dancer, no matter what the brand?<P>Does this argument exist only because GMs are the "space-age" technology, the new thing? I know there are some teachers out there who do not like GMs for their students, saying they are too "comfy" to be good for the foot!


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 9:07 am 
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Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Did you who bought them get fitted with a hair dryer? I hope you don't think I'm pulling your leg. It's just that the first time I had heard of this shoe was back in the early 90s while I was performing in Texas and I picked up a local newspaper (it was either a student rag or a neighborhood artsy type publication). Anyway, it talked about how nearly all of the dancers in a particular company in Austin had been fitted with the shoe, and further went on to say that you should allow up to an hour to be fitted with a hair dryer, and that the heat was what helped the shoe conform to your foot from the get go. Anyone?


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 9:57 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I think that mostly what Bree is talking about, if I understand her correctly, is the shank. In a regular shoe the foot works the shank (if the fit is correct) and because of this the foot gains strength.<P>From what I have heard in the GM's the shank does much - some say too much - of the work. That it is the shoe that is holding up the dancer, rather than the dancer working within the shoe. <P>In the hard shank that I tried on, this seemed to be the case. But in the lighter shank that Debbie tried on, her foot was doing the work. She was able to both roll up and roll down.<P>I have heard that using the heat from a hair dryer helps the shoe conform to the foot. In my experience, mostly with Capezio's, it was the heat from my foot inside the shoe that altered it to fit my foot. I am much more confortable with that idea. Some dancers have with other brands used alcohol to personalize the fit of the shoe.<P>I would never be against a shoe that is "too comfortable". I don't come from the "ballet has to hurt" school of dance....LOL.


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 1:40 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1278
Location: Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA
I have one adult student with banana feet (but strong!) who swears by her GM's. While you can use the hair dryer to personalize the fit, I don't think she has had to do that. It took a few tries to get all the features she needed, but the shoes work well for her. The one drawback is that the platform of the box is so flat that she had no roll-up edge and has to work extra hard to control that motion (I hope that makes sense). It seems you're either up or you're not. And in exercises I give where you releve, in first, say, and then plie on pointe to stretch the front of the foot, the GM's hold her back. But her feet are so arched anyway, that I would be advising her to hold back if her shoes didn't do it for her. They have a different shape and don't look like everyone else's shoes, but she's happy and comfortable in them, and that's most important.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 2:11 pm 
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My daughter wore them for about half a year. She finally gave up on GM's - she could never get a fit that was right. Initially, she ordered a pair when the fitter came to her ballet school. At the time, they didn't have shoes that were slender enough for her feet. The fitter THOUGHT a certain pair might work so that's what she tried. The fitter put in various pads from the pad kit but no variation of pads ever made the shoe slender enough to fit properly, both in the middle of her foot (huge gaps) and at the heel. <P>The next pair was obtained many months later when my daughter was fitted at the GM location in NYC. She was assured that this pair, being newly designed for the slender foot, was exactly right. Once again, my daughter had problems with them. Admittedly, her feet are VERY slender and long with a very high arch. But I still think that something should've worked. Aside from the gapping and heel slippage, my daughter had the same problem with every pair. Her big toe felt scrunched inside the shoe (despite the padding recommended), it would go numb while dancing, and she lost several big toenails in the process. She really gave them a good try since she loved how comfortable the shoe felt to other parts of her foot.<P>I noticed a year or so ago on the danceart site that Karen from GM stated that faulty technique was the cause of the big toe numbness problem. Many people have complained about that to GM on that site. I have a hard time with this explanation because these are dance STUDENTS we're talking about and very few will have perfect technique. For that matter, how many professional dancers have flawless technique? I thought it was a cop-out answer. My daughter's never had the trouble with any other pointe shoe that she experienced with GM's.<P>That said, I like the idea of them. I like it that a pointe shoe manufacturer is looking to marry current technology, dance therapy wisdom, and dance technique into a new shoe. I just don't think that GM has worked out their kinks yet. I hope they do and that other manufacturers follow suit.<P>Re the hair dryer feature: my daughter used her hair dryer on two different pairs of GM's. It worked beautifully. She was able to get the shank to conform to her foot perfectly.<P>Now my question to you ballet teachers: I noticed that others on this thread and certainly on the GM board at danceart often state that the GM shoe, rather than the foot, is doing the work. I'm curious: is that necessarily a bad thing if the result in terms of the dance quality from the audience perspective is the same? Or does this risk injury? Does anyone know? Is this shoe so revolutionary that no one's had the experience of not having to have such strong feet anymore?


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 2:18 pm 
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Posts: 921
Location: US
I must admit embarassingly enough, I don't know much about GM's. However I had heard good things about them from dancer friends so one day while I was pointe shoe shopping I tried a pair on and voila, they worked perfectly. That was 1/2 a year ago and I'm still using the same pair!! Granted I'm a modern dancer and no longer rehearse in pointe shoes but I still take ballet classes regularly. I love the shoes, they work well for my "bannana" feet. I have never done anything to them w/ a hairdryer or made any alterations to them. The roll through is really wonderful with these shoes and they are extremely comfy!<P>------------------<P>"If it's self expression you are looking for the place for you is the analyst's couch" - Merce Cunningham<p>[This message has been edited by Misa_danseuse (edited April 25, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 3:11 pm 
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Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Isn't it fascinating how differently people can feel about basically the same type of shoes? Shoes, feet, people are so high individualistic.<P>Let me take the liberty of addressing several issues that have been raised. <P>First I have never heard of bad technique causing numbness in the toes. I have heard of a constricting shoe doing that, so on that issue I agree with you JM. Just as the dancer shouldn't blame her shoes, (old adage), the shoes shouldn't blame the dancer either. Doesn't make for a good marriage.<P>Obviously it seems there are pro and con statements about whether these shoes allow for a roll up and/or a roll down from pointe. Both are necessary, as you all well know. <P>I had a pair of Woesner's once (also I believe fiber glass - but I could be wrong). They, as Nancy describes, had such a flat platform that it was virtually impossible to roll through the foot. You were either up or down, and the come down was so abrupt, that I began to experience sudden sharp pain in the long plantar ligament that runs the length underneath the foot. <P>At this time I was already quite advanced in my studies, and had never experienced this horrifying pain before. I threw out the shoes and never experienced that pain again. So that is something that should really be looked into and kept in mind.<P>As to whether it is ok for the shoe to do the work rather than the foot - I would argue that while the shoe should certainly offer support (and as much comfort as possible), the foot must be in control and therefore it has to be strong. And, it is my opinion that it only gets strong through doing the work. <P>And, for those who find the shoes work for them and the teacher approves, and there are no problems, then the marriage is a good one.


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 5:24 pm 
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Location: Wisconsin
This bringing up the topic:<P>What are the pros and cons of beginning students wearing soft vs. hard shoes?<P>This ties in with the argument that many teachers do not want their students using GMs as their first shoe because they "do the work for the dancer" etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 6:46 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I can only give you my opinion Bree - others will surely chime in with theirs.<P>For many years, it seemed to be the general concensus that a beginner needed a hard shank for support in staying on pointe. However, in my experience as a teacher, it didn't seem like beginners had that much difficulty staying on pointe as in "arriving" on pointe. <P>There are, of course, two major ways to get there - either springing up, or rolling up. Rolling up is much harder to do, I believe. For that the dancer needs to have the strength to roll through the foot. Having to fight a hard shank, to my mind, is counter productive. <P>At the same time I would not put a beginner in a soft shank, because there is not enough support there. It is a balancing act (forgive the pun LOL) between the need for support and the need for some flexibility in the shoe. <P> When I was teaching I often would put beginners (there were many less brands of shoes at the time, here in San Diego) in Capezio Niccolinis or Contemporas. The Niccolini being a better choice for a narrower foot, the Contempora a better choice for a wider foot. We only had a Capezio store here at the time.<P>However, for many years the Capezio company - or at least the fitters for those shoes - recommended Pavlovas - or even the durotoe. The durotoe is really a Pavlova with a suede platform. When I first went on pointe only the Niccolinis were available, however, as my students became ready for pointe the Pavlovas and Durotoe came into the stores. I bought myself a pair of Pavlovas thinking that before I recommend them to my students, I will wear them myself. <P>I have very strong, not beautiful - but very strong feet. I found the shanks of the Pavlovas much too unworkable for my feet. So I knew my beginner pointe students would not be able to work in them either. But they seemed to thrive in either the Niccolinis or the Contemporas. Also I had an occasional student who enjoyed Freeds. However, they were not too readily available in San Diego either. And, they seemed to break down rather rapidly. <P>So the short answer to your question - is - I think that a medium shank is best for most beginners. Unless there is a singular problem for a particular student - like an extremely highly arched foot.


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 7:26 pm 
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Location: US
I"m so glad you mentioned the beginner's shoe choice Basheva. I felt highly frusterated when (and this was many years ago) the studio I attended encouraged ALL beginning pointe students to purchase the Pawlova shoes. I have a very defined strong arch/foot and at the time my feet were quite strong enough to work without this unbendable shank. I found it so frusterating..I could feel my foot fighting to bend that shank inside the shoe!!! I worked with them for 2 months and then went out on my own and found that Ariels or Contemporas worked so well for me. I really feel that individual fittings are best for beginning pointe students. There is no way you can place a whole beginning class in the same pair of pointe shoes. Some people will need the support of the hard shank and some won't. I truly think a medium shank would be much better for some dancers w/ strong feet to start off with. Thank you for addressing this issue.<P>------------------<BR><BR>"If it's self expression you are looking for the place for you is the analyst's couch" - Merce Cunningham


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2001 10:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 242
Location: Washington St.
My first shoe was a Capezio Niccolini, and since I had to order them, it was the only shoe I used for years. It worked, and I was happy with it. Then I went to order it one day, and they told me they didn't make them anymore, and besides, that shoe was only for professionals anyway. I was rather taken aback at this, and have since moved onto Blochs. So I am pleased to see Basheva put beginners in them too.


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2001 4:59 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Katheryn - I was at the shop just the other day - and there are still Niccolinis there. I haven't heard of them being discontinued. Although I could be wrong. I have all to often found some of the clerks to be misinformed. <P>You are right, Misa - no way an entire class could use the same shoe.<P>I have found, I hate to say this, but - here goes - so many of the store clerks are really not trained to fit pointe shoes. When I had a beginner pointe student, I would try to go to the shop with them, at least the first time. Sometimes we would go as a class, and make it a fun day.<P>I went into a shop once and was told by a clerk that they didn't carry Capezio - only Niccolinis. I knew then that clerk shouldn't be fitting pointe shoes. <P>The problem with the durotoe, in addition to having the hard shank of the Pavlova, is that just above the suede tip, the shoe tends to get a crease where the satin meets the suede and that becomes very uncomfortable. I used them only once - and that was really a very unusual circumstance. You can read about it in the thread called "The Teacher and the Shoe" - a true story that happened to me.<P>The suede tip was put on there ostensibly to prevent slipping - but that can be accomplished by the wonderful tradition of darning the platforms - which I did to every pair of toe shoes I ever wore.<P><A HREF=../../../ubb/Forum7/HTML/000268.html><B>THE TEACHER AND THE SHOE</B></A><P>


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 Post subject: Re: Gaynor Minden Debate
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2001 4:12 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
At one time Capezio had a shoe that was supposed to be specifically for a highly arched foot. The Ultimo - was supposed to have a reversed shank. <P>I do not have a highly arched foot but in desperation (they were out of my size in Niccolinis) I bought a pair of Ultimos - it was the best pair I ever had. Strange huh?<P>Does anyone know of any pointe shoes that are specifically made for a highly arched foot?<P><BR>


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