This month, we progressed one of our largest groups of dancers onto pointe! There is so much excitement for dancers when they accomplish this goal and reach this milestone in their training! We wanted to celebrate all of our pointe dancers by sharing with both non-dancers and budding ballerinas some things about these doted-on, magical shoes!
Here Are 10 Things You Might Not Know About Pointe Shoes!
1. Pointe Shoes Do Not Have Wooden Blocks Inside.
While the tip of a pointe shoe is called “the box” due to it’s box-like shape, there is not an actual block inside the shoe. The inside of the pointe shoe box is similar to a strong paper mache, and most dancers use a toe pad or lamb’s wool for padding to make it a little more comfy for their toes!
2. Pointe Shoes should only be purchased with a ballet teacher’s guidance and should be from a knowledgeable fitter.
The progression to pointe work is not something to play around with, and neither are pointe shoes! Find a teacher or school with a good pre-pointe and pointe program, do the work they require and let them tell you when it’s time for shoes! A good pointe shoe fitter is priceless, they help dancers only purchase shoes that are fitted specifically to their feet!
3. Pointe Shoes actually do not come with ribbons.
What!? Really? With all of those pictures and paintings of pointe shoes and ribbons? Yes, sadly it’s true. Dancers purchase ribbons and elastics separately and sew them into the shoes themselves. The elastics actually do the bulk of the work to hold the pointe shoe on the dancer’s foot, but the ribbons do their share, and of course they are oh so pretty!
4. There are many different types and brands of pointe shoes, and not all work for every dancer.
We mentioned the importance of a fitter and that’s because there are so many brands and types of shoes out there and so many different feet! Even after a dancer finds a shoe that fits the shape and size of her foot, it can take dancing in many different types of shoes for a dancer to find “the one” that is perfect for her!
5. Dancing in pointe shoes is not as easy as it looks, actually it’s really not easy at all!
The goal of pointe work is to make it look effortless, the reality is… it’s hard work! Dancers train for years to be strong enough to wear pointe shoes and then even more years to master actually dancing en pointe. Pointe is a more advanced and difficult form of ballet and requires a lot of strength, coordination and courage. But once pointe work is mastered it appears effortless!
6. Pointe Shoes get pretty stinky!
Do ballerinas sweat? They sure do! As pretty as those shoes look on stage, you won’t want to get near them when the dancer takes them off! Pointe shoes can get so stinky after all that hard work! Dancers carry pointe shoes in a mesh bag or pocket to allow them to air out both for the smell and so any moisture doesn’t damage the shoe.
7. Dancers practically destroy their beautiful, brand new shoes before actually dancing in them.
Often parents will cringe as they watch their experienced pointe dancers “break” their new pointe shoes in. After spending a nice price for pointe shoes, they come pretty and pink but very stiff. Experienced dancers have learned how to soften certain parts of the shoe, and mold it to their feet so they are ready to dance in. Dancers that are new to pointe should have a teacher help them break in the first few pairs of pointe shoes to make sure they don’t damage them!
8. Just like Cinderella! Pointe shoes should only be worn by the person they are fitted for.
Once a dancer has found a pair of shoes that works for the size and shape of her foot, and broken them in just where she needs it, no one else should wear them or try them on. This is so no one messes up those shoes! It can be tempting for dancers that are not currently dancing en pointe to play around in pointe shoes or try to get a feel for what it’s like, but you can’t get a good idea of what it’s like if the shoes are not fitted for you, and doing so without the guidance of a teacher can be dangerous.
9. Pointe Shoes can cause harm if dancers are too young or not under the care of a knowledgable Teacher.
The wonders of pointe work are beautiful and beneficial to dancers that have put in the years of work to prepare their bodies; but it can be dangerous for dancers who are not ready. Young dancers or those who have not have several years of ballet training and pre-pointe could damage their feet if they push to start before they are ready. Pointe training does not happen over night, but it is very rewarding when it is done at the right time in the right way! So while your little one may be excited about signing up for her first ballet lessons, you can hold off on the pointe shoes for a few more years!
10. Pointe Shoes Allow Dancers To Do Amazing Things!
Pointe work is beautiful and very rewarding! Like anything, dancing en pointe gets easier the longer you do it. The more experienced a dancer becomes – the more enjoyable dance en pointe becomes! The dream for most dancers is to perform en pointe, some will stop there, having achieved that goal during or at the end of their highschool years. For others, the journey is just beginning and their love of ballet and pointe shoes will carry them off to college or professional programs where their collection of stinky old pointe shoes will continue to grow!
If you or your dancer dream of having pointe shoes one day, click below, those dreams can start here!