As a ballerina you will most likely have a basket or box full of pairs of old, dirty and battered pointe shoes that for 1 – 3 months were loved and used and wasted. Or you might have just gotten the permission from your ballet teacher to start pointe, and you are searching for the perfect pair of pointes. My first pair, I remember, was when I was twelve, and I went to London with my family for the summer. After having walked through the streets of London in the uncomfortable heat and after having tried shoes from Bloch, Freed and Gaynor Minden, I finally found my perfect pair of Grishko pointe shoes in the heart of Covent garden. Since then I have only used Grishko and have gone through multiple pairs of shoes that are now too soft, broken or full of holes. I’m sure you will have experienced the excitement of a brand new pair of shiny pointe shoes, and the tire of having to buy new ones every time your current shoes wear. If you are a beginner who is looking or advice on how to treat your very first pair of pointe shoes, then please keep reading!
It is extremely important that you find the right pair of pads for you (that is, if your teacher and school allows the use of pads, which I know that not all do). If you are allowed, I would suggest trying multiple pairs of pads of different materials and thickness. I use one Bunhead Ouch Pouch pad in each shoe (Can be found here) which are relatively thin, which is why I use an extra thin layer of padding inside (Unfortunately I cannot remember where I purchased these). If I feel the need for extra padding in sore areas, I use small gel spots (similar can be found here). In my experience, thick silicone pads have not worked for me because I find them too thick, but that does not go to say they are not right for you. Everyones feet are different!
Storing my shoes
I would advise you to have a small pouch or bag to carry your pointe shoes in while travelling to and from class. After you have been rehearsing, your shoes will be sweaty and hot from your feet. It is therefore important to let your shoes cool down before putting them in your bag if you can help it. The purpose is to preserve your shoes. However, if this is not possible, a small bag which is thin and has holes in it for breathing such as the one you see below is a good choice.
After my shoes have cooled down, I fold the heel as shown on the picture so that the ribbons are free. I have put my pads in each shoe for safekeeping, however you can store them in a separate pouch or box if you like.
Then I wrap the ribbon around the back of the heel (this will stop it from creasing), and I do this on both shoes as such.
I then slip one shoe into the other, and put them into the bag, sealing the top.
How to tie your shoes
Tying your shoe correctly is important to maintain your performance and the quality of your pointe work. First of all, you do not want your shoes to slip off when dancing, or your ribbons to loosen. I will show you how I tie my shoes to give you an indication of the process.
To begin with, your knee should be in a 90 degree triangle position so that it is correct. Then you begin by crossing both ribbons at the front.
The ribbons should then go around your ankle and back to the front again, where you will once again cross them.
Now bring the ribbon around your ankle again until they meet on the inside side of your legs. The purpose of this is so that it will look nicer when you dance and if it looks unity people won’t notice as well. You then tie a knot (make sure it is strong enough but not too tight as to cut the blood flow to your legs), and tuck it inside the ribbons, concealing it.
And there you have it! Your shoe is now done and you are ready to dance!
Until next time,
Reinhardt, A., (2008). Pointe shoes: tips & tricks for choosing, tuning and care. Alton, Hampshire, Dance Books.