A Pointe Shoe Dream Comes True…
In the fall of 2015, Mariska Baranczyk, a long-time customer of Grand Jeté, called asking about the possibility of getting pointe shoes for a family friend of hers, Hannah Kritzeck. Hannah is a young, twenty-year old woman who dances in the Twin Cities. Normally this would not at all be an unusual request, as Grand Jeté has specialized in fitting pointe shoes for area dancers for over thirty years. However, this situation was unique in that Hannah is a primordial dwarf. She is one of only 100 primordial dwarves in the world and the only one in Minnesota.
4th Street Dance Recital
Primordial dwarfism is defined primarily by extreme short stature at birth and is furthermore unique in that the bones and organs of the body are all proportionally smaller than the average person. With such a small overall structure, primordial dwarves have a shortened life expectancy and face the risk of brain aneurysms among other complications. For instance, Hannah had two titanium rods put in her back to correct scoliosis at a young age. She measures a mere 39 inches tall and wears a 4 T in kids clothing. However, none of these facts prevent Hannah from pursuing her passion for dancing – and thriving at it!
Hannah dances at 4th Street Dance Center, taking ballet and hip hop. She pours her heart into dancing, inspiring both her teacher and classmates. When asked about her dancing, Hannah replied, “I’ve been dancing since I was two years old…I love dancing because it makes me feel good – hip hop makes me feel strong and ballet calms me down.” Just like many a young girl in ballet class, Hannah has long dreamed of dancing on pointe. For years, Hannah had been searching for a way to get pointe shoes; however, there simply was nothing small enough to fit her feet. It was at this point that Mariska reached out to Grand Jeté, knowing their expertise in fitting pointe shoes and their direct access to pointe shoe suppliers.
Grand Jeté’s Involvement
The staff at Grand Jeté is committed to providing each customer with personalized service. On a daily basis, Grand Jeté helps dancers find the right fit for their pointe shoes, sizing these unique shoes according to the size and strength of their feet. Our staff often helps dancers create special orders to meet their particular needs and specifications. However, pointe shoes have never been made in toddler sizes. While Hannah’s feet are extremely small, they are fully developed. Therefore, Hannah would need specially-created pointe shoes to fit the size, structure and strength of her feet.
Ruthena Fink, the owner of Grand Jeté, worked with Mariska to bring Hannah into the store for a fitting. Ruthena fit Hannah in ballet slippers to get a sense for the pointe shoe size that would need to be created. Hannah’s feet fit in a size six toddler, the smallest Capezio ballet slipper available, measuring five inches long. Additionally, Ruthena traced Hannah’s feet to provide a visual representation of her foot size and shape.
With the information she gathered from the fitting, Ruthena began communicating with Paul Plesh at Capezio. Mr. Plesh has a vast amount of experience in the ballet world, having both worked and danced with professional ballet companies for a number of years. He is currently Capezio’s Senior Product Line Manager, and after multiple conversations and exchanging photos, Mr. Plesh set out to see if Capezio could make a pointe shoe for Hannah. At Grand Jeté, we were thrilled to learn that Paul actually had a trip planned to Thailand, where Capezio’s factory is located. He brought all of the information with him and returned a few weeks later with Hannah’s pointe shoes in hand! Her pointe shoes were personally mailed to Grand Jeté, where they awaited Hannah’s first pointe shoe fitting.
When the shoes arrived at Grand Jeté, it was a beautiful sight – they looked just like regular pointe shoes, yet fit in the palm of Ruthena’s hand! The pointe shoes were created with pink satin and a hard toe box, with the one main difference being that the shank (the stiff sole of a pointe shoe created to support a dancer on her toes) was actually only the strength of a demi pointe shoe. Due to Hannah’s small size and light weight, a regular shank would be too stiff and difficult for her foot to work through properly. Thus, the demi sole was the appropriate strength to train her to dance on pointe.
A Dream Come True
Mariska arranged for Hannah to come to Grand Jeté again for her pointe shoe fitting, this time accompanied by her mother, Jackie. Nothing could match the excitement and happiness reflected on the faces of Hannah and her mother when the shoes were brought out and fitted on Hannah’s feet. The thrill was shared by Ruthena and her staff as they watched one more dancer realize her dreams of dancing in pointe shoes.
Furthermore, because she is finally able to begin training on pointe, Hannah is considering pursing dance in college or at pre-professional/professional ballet training programs. With Hannah’s talent and determination, it will be exciting to see where she goes with her dancing. What an example of how the inspiration of a pair of pointe shoes can be so far-reaching! Grand Jeté’s customer service and expertise in fitting dance shoes will continue to make dance dreams such as Hannah’s come true.
Click on the pictures below to view a larger slideshow of Hannah’s pointe shoe story: