Pointe Shoe Information

A GUIDE TO NEW POINTE SHOES 

For many young ballet dancers, going en Pointe is a rite of passage and the start of a long and sometimes painful relationship with the shoes that allow them to perform gracefully on the very tips of their toes.  The day of being fitted with your first pair of Pointe Shoes is an event eagerly awaited by all dancers. Unfortunately, the initial excitement can sometimes change to dismay. The first pair are likely to feel unusual as well as uncomfortable. It is therefore essential that the fitting is supervised by an experienced fitter and the Dancer remains patient allowing the fitter time to identify the best shoe for the foot. 

Preparation:

Make sure toe nails are cut and you are wearing dance tights. Be aware of the size of your current Pointe shoes or street shoes if it is your first pair. This will give the fitter a guide as to the size to start with. It is always helpful to share any views your teacher has since the teacher will have seen you dance whereas the fitter will not. Also, be sure to ask your dance teacher if the studio you attend prefers their dancers to wear certain padding, or none at all.  Pointe shoe fitting is not an exact science since the majority of Pointe shoes are handmade with no two pairs being identical. It involves a great deal of trial and error so be prepared to stay at the store for a while because the fitting can sometimes take an hour or so.

Protecting Your Toes:

Many dancers find that after wearing their shoes for a prolonged period of time their toes become sore and are in need of some extra cushioning. Padding or toe covers should always be tried on during your fitting. There are many types of toe pads available, however remember the aim is to relieve pressure and not to fill up the box.  As a dancer begins to dance en Pointe she will be able to recognise if ie. Individual toes need protection or if padding, spacers or wool are needed for bunions or corns. If you have bunions, or want to protect against them, there are guards you can use for that as well. 

The Perfect Fit:

 Your Pointe shoes should feel snug but should not pinch or feel too tight. The box should feel as though it is ‘cupping’ the toes. You should also be able to wiggle your toes slightly.  They should not feel as roomy and as comfortable as your street shoe. When standing in a demi-plie position, the big toe should be touching the end of the shoe but should not be collapsing or curling in any way.   One important point to remember is that the shoe should not allow "growing room." The shoes should fit perfectly and feel like a second skin. A shoe that is too big, doesn’t give enough support, and could ultimately hurt the dancer.

How to Sew on Ribbons & Elastic:

Before the ribbons or elastic are sewn on, the dancer should take the shoes to be checked by her teacher. Sometimes the teacher will disagree with the fit. An exchange can only be made if the shoes show no evidence of wear or sewing. Please ask your teacher how they want you to sew on ribbons and elastic as each individual's technique is different. It is important to remember that the purpose of the ribbons is to hold the entire heel of the shoe against the foot and not just the edges of the side of the shoe.

1. Cut your ribbon into 4 equal pieces

2. Fold down the back of the shoe, so that it touches the inner sole. Use a pencil to draw lines at the creases.

3. Open up the fold and place the back edge of the ribbon against the pencil line. For maximum support and comfort, ribbons should be sewn low down inside the shoe. The end of the ribbon should be all the way down by the sockliner. Attach the ribbon with pins following the angle of the crease line. Make sure you only sew through the lining and not the satin or the drawstring.

Sewing the Elastic:

ASK YOUR TEACHER whether or not to sew the elastic on the outside of the shoe is recommended to prevent blisters. However, if you prefer a cleaner look, it can be sewn on the inside. There are a few ways the elastic can be sewn on.

A) With the shoe on, put foot in flat position. To measure elastic, sew one end at the back of the shoe on one side of the seam. Stretch the other end of elastic across the ankle to the other side of the shoe. Make sure that you do not have too much tension. If elastic is sewn on too tightly there is a chance of damaging soft tissue around the ankle.

B) One elastic across the top of the foot. Sew the elastic in front of the ribbon.

C) ‘Criss-Cross’ across the top of the foot. One elastic starting at the back on the side of the seam, crossing over and ending in front of the ribbon. Repeat with the other side.

D) The last option would be not to use elastic at all. This choice should be between you and your teacher.

  How Long Will the Shoes Last?

Generally, Pointe shoes can last up to 24 hours. Different factors, like

a) the fabrication of the shoe

b) the type of floor being danced on and how well the shoe is cared for will affect the life span.  When a pair of Pointe shoes is ready to be retired it will begin to break down or crumble.  You will feel like you are not getting the same support and you may be able to feel the floor as though you are not wearing anything. If you are a beginner, and your foot is still growing, it is normal to grow out of a Pointe shoe before it wears out.

Caring for Your Pointe Shoes:

Never leave your wet Pointe shoes in your dance bag! The box is constructed from natural fibres (ie. Cotton, linen, burlap) and paste which will break down and mould to the foot giving a shock absorbing effect. Not allowing them to properly dry will decrease the life span of your expensive Pointe shoes. After Pointe class take your shoes off and remove all padding from of the box of the shoe. Place the shoes somewhere dry and airy (sometimes a mesh Pointe shoe bag can be helpful) so they can dry properly. Pointe shoes can take 36-72 hours to dry. If you wear your shoes more than twice a week, it is a good idea to buy at least two pairs of Pointe shoes at a time and rotate them.  This will allow one pair to dry while the other pair is in use. Rotating your shoes can make them last up to 50% longer.

Pointe shoe companies we supply: 

 Blcoh, Capezio, Grishko, Russian Pointe, Suffolk