I could be doing any number of useful things on this, a relatively-free Friday, but here I am, reading through my old blog entries(1) just because.
- …And occasionally being horrified at how very cyclical is the learning of ballet. I realize that what I mean when I say, this year, “I need to get better at placing my arms” or whatever, I actually mean something different than I did two years ago … but jeez. The problem is that you’re always fixing the same body that has the same basic problems; it’s a question of degree rather than kind, I guess.
Anyway, I’ve stumbled across a couple of old reviews, and I figure I should update them.
Thus, here we go:
Sansha Mulberry 2 Legwarmers (discontinued, unfortunately)
When I bought these, I weighed 10 pounds more than I do now and my thighs were bigger than they are now. They’re still huge, but at this point they’re more “male ballet dancer” huge and less “Robert Förstemann, German indoor track cycling champion of the Universe” huge.
^^I’m not this guy. Honestly, I wasn’t even this guy when I used to joke about basically being this guy. But you should watch this video anyway, because it’s seriously the most gripping video ever about toasting a slice of bread.
At the time, they stayed up and served pretty well. Their grippy texture made them less than ideal in a tight sus-sous, as they tend to grab on to each-other and twist as you pull in, but on the balance they were, and are, good legwarmers.
The problem is, of course, that I am now rather leaner, I’ve discovered one minor flaw in the Mulberry 2s: they stretch out more than most legwarmers, and now they won’t stay up on me unless I layer something over them (something tight, that is).
I plan to take them in a little at the top, and then they should be as before: thin, warm, comfortable, but a little grippier, perhaps, than is entirely ideal.
Sansha “Silhouette” Shoes
I believe these have also been discontinued, though they’re still available for purchase in some sizes.
I liked these a lot; for a long time, they were my go-to shoes. They nicely balance the classic good looks and durability of a leather shoe with the breathability and flexibility of a canvas one.
I still haven’t encountered a shoe that shows off my feet quite as well as these. However, I’ve since switched to Bloch’s Pro-Elastics, and I actually like those better than anything else I’ve tried. They simply fit so beautifully, without the need for fiddly adjustments of the top elastic, that I’ve fallen in love with them.
For leather-shoes-required situations, though, I’d still go with Sansha’s silhouettes, most likely.
It’s worth noting that dancing changes your feet, so shoe preferences can also change over time. If you have very flexible feet like mine, you might experience a really significant change in the shape of your feet as your arches strengthen, which can lead to new adventures in shoe choices.
Bloch “Pro Elastic(2)” Shoes
- I’ve linked to the “women’s” version in black on Amazon, because for some reason the Amazon offerings of this model are a mess and even Discount Dance Supply doesn’t do a great job listing them. Meh. Rest assured that it really doesn’t matter which gender your shoes are if you’re ordering Pro Elastics: just order by size and width.
These are now my go-to shoes.
I think they’re one of the models that dancers either love or hate. I love them.
On the Pro Elastic and the similar Synchrony, Bloch has done away with the elastic lacing that runs around the top of the shoe, which can exert pressure either at the Achilles’ tendon or at the instep.
I have high insteps, and that can make it hard to get a good adjustment with the elastic lacing on many shoes(3). The Pro Elastics eliminate that concern.
- K.H. Martin’s flex-canvas shoe, which comes in two cuts—one for dancers with high insteps, and one for dancers with low insteps—is one notable exception. My white shoes are K.H. Martins, and I quite like them.
My feet also tend to run hot, and the Pro Elastics breathe well. They’re light and airy and tend to pretty much disappear when you’re dancing in them (assuming you’ve got the fit right).
The only real drawback, here, is that they don’t come in white or grey. Blargh. I really wish these were at very least available in white, because they I would never need to buy any other shoe ever again.
Oh, and the tights I wore for our performance were M. Stevens’ Milliskin tights, which are simply the best tights that have ever existed, and you should go buy some.
Anyway, I need to do a bunch of housework before tonight’s rehearsal. That about covers it for re-reviews right now. I still need to review the Dance Jox dance belt (which is quickly becoming a favorite) and get around to finishing my epic 4-way comparison review of All The Dance Belts, which I guess will have to be a 5-way review now.
“Mulberry 2” legwarmers (61cm) in light blue from Sansha:
These got their first run yesterday.
I quite like them so far.
First, and perhaps most importantly, they stay up even though my thighs are unreasonably large. Given Sansha’s reputation for sizing for extreme ectomorphs, I wasn’t actually sure they’d make it up past my knees. In fact, they did. For full disclosure, I intentionally popped one stitch in the top hem on each warmer before class yesterday morning, since they were just a hair tighter than I liked them right at that one spot. This doesn’t seem to have affected their performance, but did make them rather sublimely comfortable.
Second, they have stirrup feet and are thin enough to layer, which is really nice. My other legwarmers are just Tubes and not long enough to pull down onto my feet while still keeping my knees warm, so they do nothing for my arches, leaving a gap between “extreme fluffy warm-up socks” and “light socks or naked feet in ballet shoes.” (Yeah, you’re right — this is a First World Ballet Problem.)
On cold days, I now have the option of pulling my legwarmers on over my light socks, then layering the fluffy warm-up socks — which are lined with faux lambswool and warm as all heck — on top of everything.
I don’t usually wear shoes during most (often all), of barre, but if I do put my shoes on, or if I decide I need leg warmers at centre, these leave the contact patches on the soles of my shoes free. I don’t have to wear them inside my shoes to accomplish that end.
The ribbed silk blend knit has a roughish hand, which can be a little problematic in a tight sous-sus, but which is otherwise helpful, as it keeps the warmers where you want them (it doesn’t work as well on bare skin). It’s also warm and breathable.
I’m considering the purchase of a second pair of these in another color (just for variety). The light blue is really nice with my all-black ballet class wardrobe; with my old neon-green legwarmers, the whole thing screams, “PUNK RAWK! \m/,” which is okay but feels a little weird when I’m visiting a school where I’m not a regular.
The light blue legwarmers with the black-on-black tights-and-shirt, meanwhile, politely says, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to work. Do you mind if I share your barre?”
Not sure yet about laundering, though. I admit, I tend not to wash my legwarmers all that frequently, less by intention than by default. I tend to shove them into my dance bag and forget about them.
Silk is a great insulator. Yesterday evening, it was too warm to bother wearing warm-ups atop my tights when we went to cirque classes, but the temperature had dropped considerably by the time we left. I dug my Mulberry 2s out of my dance bag and threw them on, and they kept my legs from freezing.
In summary, the Mulberry 2s are warm and long. Size is doable for thighs measuring 50cm/~19-20″. The texture provides a fair bit of grip, which is both good (they stay up) and bad (sous-sus can be … interesting).
“Silhouette” soft ballet shoe by Sansha:
My initial impression of these has been quite good. The Silhouette combines the refined appearance and durability of a leather shoe with the flexibility and ventilation of a light canvas one — specifically, thin canvas panels in the arch afford a close fit under the foot and allow the feet to breathe a little better. I find that they really display a well-arched foot very nicely; there’s no bunching under the arch to obscure things.
I often forego socks in my ballet shoes, and these were quite comfortable without socks. Sansha’s footliners tend to feel quite nice.
I am especially pleased to report that no rolling-off of the heel occurred in my Silhouettes even when I was stretching with my foot in the barre (the same goes for my new Pro1cs). I think that’s a question of fit, though. Although I wear a narrow in normal shoe sizes, in Sansha’s sizes a medium or wide seems to work better.
My sole (ha!) caveat is that the foil ink on Sansha’s soles can be … um … interesting the first time or two you wear a new pair. Both of my pairs of Pro1cs have been slippery; the Silhouettes are squeaky.
You guys, it is hard to tour lent or promenade when you’re trying desperately to hold in the laughter. On Wednesday, I just about died every single time. It was like, “Squeaky … squeaky … squeaksqueaksqueaksqueakysqueak…” all the way around.
I’ll review the Silhouettes further in the future. I didn’t wear them very much on Wednesday, so if I make it through more of class on Saturday, I’ll have better data. So far, though, so good.
That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow I’m going to part 2 of the Semiotics Workshop, which should be fun, and then we’re going to see Moving Collective! I’m really excited about that.
À bientôt, mes amis!