pointe shoe abuse

If you’ve ever seen Center Stage, Black Swan, or any ballet movie really, you know that pointe shoes take a great deal of abuse.  My question is- Is it possible that most of their suffering is undergone before they even so much as smell a callused foot?

The video above, featuring dancers from The Australian Ballet, suggests this is true.  After watching this video, I thought that perhaps some of you readers might be interested to know what kind of torture I put my pointe shoes through before it’s their turn to torture me…

the supplies:

  1. my shoes– 4 1/2 xxxx Grishko 2007 Medium-Hard shank, depending on the type of work I’m doing
  2. Grishko ribbons– sewn on by hand
  3. elastic– sewn on by hand
  4. Stitch Kit– contains industrial strength needle and thick pink waxed thread
  5. upholstery thread– it’s super strong, but much softer than the waxed thread- prevents the tiny knots inside my shoe from causing blisters
  6. lighter– to burn the ends of the ribbons and elastics so they won’t fray
  7. sharp, pointy scissors– to scruff the bottom sole, aka the “shank”, and the satin at the very tip off the toe, aka the top of the “box”, so it’s not too slippery
  8. a hammer (I pound out the underneath-ball-of-the-foot area)- to flatten and soften the bottom of the shoe so that is is silent onstage
  9. Jet Glue– (sometimes this step happens before I’ve ever worn the shoes, sometimes it’s a last-resort attempt to save a pair of prematurely softened shoes)- I pour the glue into the toe part of the shoe and onto the shank where it usually breaks, to reenforce the strength
  10. tape– I always tape up several of my toes and use silicon toe spacers and lambswool toepads inside my shoes for a little protection and cushion (but I prefer when the lambswool has matted down a bit)
  11. water– after putting on new pointe shoes for the first time, I carefully run the bunion area of both shoes under a slow trickle of water, to allow them to mold to the shape of my feet

And that’s all it is!  I also step on the boxes and gently bend the shanks to soften them up a bit.  Sometimes my shoes undergo a far more grueling process in which I take the heels apart in order to tighten them, but altering them like this is extremely time consuming.  And when you’re preparing AT LEAST one new pair per week, time is of the essence.

Hope you enjoyed this little peek inside my dance bag…happy hump day, dears!

2 thoughts on “pointe shoe abuse

  1. Pingback: happy feet | Setting The Barre

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