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 Esther Juon and her research into the fitting of pointe shoes.
Esther Juon has become very well known for her method of Pointe shoe fitting. Her work started in the 1980s when she attended all the pointe shoe fitting seminars held in London by GAMBA, PORSELLI, and FREED. 

As an ex-classical dancer and, by now a ballet teacher, Esther took her role as a pointe shoe fitter very seriously. She asked all her customers to bring their old pointe shoes so that she could see what the dancers were wearing and how the new fitting compared with the old. 

Esther was astonished at the condition of many feet that she saw and the obvious lack of correct fitting. She started to photograph the dancers' feet in their existing shoes and then again in their newly fitted shoes. Wherever possible, she asked the dancers to let her keep their old pointe shoes. The donated shoes were then dated and marked-up with the size and fitting of the replacement shoes. In this way, Esther collected a large box of old shoes with corresponding photos and it became clear that something needed to be done.

Esther Juon

Pointe Shoe Secrets
is now out of print.

A new book is due 2006/7

At the same time, she became aware of a new pointe shoe which had been designed after five years of medical research into why dancers' feet became so badly injured. These shoes are still made in the traditional way, but they support the foot deliberately through the metatarsal heads, the longitudinal arch and the heel, combined with a better method of positioning the ribbons. They also have a roll-through principal built in, which allows the sole to flex in the exact place of the "demi-pointe" position. Esther had now found a shoe that would fit and support the foot correctly. These shoes are made by Grishko of Russia. She then met Nicolai Grishko in 1995 through Dominique Hill of IDS, the UK importer of Grishko pointe shoes. Esther presented her work to him and he invited her to be the fitter at the Dance World Exhibition in Earls Court, London, in the Spring of 1995. 

During this time, Esther wrote a simple guide to the fitting of pointe shoes called "Pointe Shoe Secrets". The book was self published and only financially possible because of Evi Juon, Esther's sister. Evi is a graphic designer in Switzerland and kindly put the book together at an affordable cost. The book was launched at the Dance World Exhibition. Her book is now out of print and Esther is currently working on a new, updated version which should be available in 2006/7. Since then, Esther has been invited to write articles which have appeared in European Dance News, Dancing Times and Young Dancer magazine.

Nicolai Grishko then invited Esther to Moscow, where she taught her fitting process to the Grishko shop staff and was subsequently asked to fit Pointe shoes at the Bolshoi Ballet Company. In recognition of her contribution to the safe fitting of pointe shoes, Esther was awarded a Special Diploma by the Diaghilev Association in 1995.

Inspired by her experiences in Russia, Esther returned to the UK and became a member of Dance UK. She attended their lectures and conferences and learned about current research into growth spurt, bone density and the growth plates in the feet. 

Research into the correct fitting of pointe shoes continues with the assistance of her friend and physiotherapist Dr Lucy Redhead.

Esther became a member of the International Association of Dance, Medicine and Science (IADMS) and attended their lectures and conferences. Esther Juon presented the results of her work with Lucy Redhead to  IADMS which was fully accepted at the Annual Conference held in Tring, near London, England in October 1999. These articles led to  Esther and Lucy receiving further invitations to lecture at the British Ballet Organization Teacher's Concourse, R.A.D. regional courses, the London's Children Ballet and at various ballet schools throughout the country.

During this period, Esther gained a clear picture of what was happening up and down the country. Sadly, she realised that there is no principal of pointe shoe fitting in place. She discovered that there is a great need to concentrate awareness of how to protect young dancers' feet. This will require a major rethinking and retraining of teachers, pupils, parents and ultimately, fitters of pointe shoes.

Over the years, Esther's method of fitting pointe shoes has evolved and now combines relevant anatomical education, a full assessment of the dancer's strength with advice on corrective exercises, precise fitting and information on preparation and care of the shoes after class.