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Preparing For Pointe Shoes


At What Age Can I Start Pointe Work? 

It's really not a question of age but more of physical dance ability, strength and maturity when deciding a dancers readiness for pointe work. Yes, age is important in that you need to be mentally mature enough (just getting properly fitted for pointe shoes requires a lot of maturity, let alone dancing en Pointe).  Physical maturity is of the upmost importantance as going on pointe too early can be extremely damaging for the feet

The bones in the feet are some of the last to harden and before they do so, the growth plates are at risk of damage. There is a significant growth spurt just before the onset of puberty/menstruation. At this time, hormonal changes make ligaments more flexible and growth plates are active. With all these changes going on dancers can become clumsy and off balance so starting pointe during this growth spurt really places the dancer at extra risk of injury. 

Of course, there is a vast difference between a girl who is doing ballet once a week, and one who is training much more intensively- the one who is training 3-4 times a week has much more muscle strength and technique to help protect her, so for her, starting pointe a bit earlier is not as much of a worry (though good care and preparation is still vital- one cannot afford to damage these young dancers before their career has begun!) The use of demi pointe shoes during this growth spurt can be very helpful in continuing strength work while reducing injury risk. Ask your teacher if you can progress to demi-Pointe shoes first.

Demi Pointe Shoes

It is preferable for dancers that are new to pointe work to have been previously fitted in demi pointe shoes. These look very similar to pointe shoes but have softer soles and are worn for general class work. Demi pointe shoes are NOT suitable for pointe work as they do not offer the support of a pointe shoe. Their main purpose is to strengthen the dancers feet, ankles and legs in preparation for pointe shoes and to enable their feet to adapt to working in the confined space of a pointe shoe improving balance and intrinsic muscle strength in the feet. 

We advise that demi pointe shoes are worn for a significant period of time before you progress on to pointe work (around 6 months to a year). Demi pointe shoes allow for a much smoother transition from flats to pointe shoes and in our experience dancers who have worn demi pointe shoes are much stronger and are able to hold themselves better in pointe shoes allowing us to get the best fit possible.

Preparation For Your Pointe Shoe Fitting

Please wear something comfortable that you are able to move freely in- leggings are ideal. If you have them, convertible tights are helpful. If you do not have convertible tights socks are fine (please do not wear full footed tights as we will need to examine your bare feet) . Make sure your toenails are neatly clipped and your feet are clean. If you have had a pair of pointe shoes before please bring your most recent pair, this will help us in finding a new pair and also to look at your habits en pointe. Please also bring any padding and spacers that you would normally wear as this will affect the fit of the shoe.

Where possible, please arrange and appointment for your fitting as it can take up to an hour- especially for a first pair.

'Breaking In' Your Pointe Shoes

Remember to gently break in your shoes and mould them to your feet by wearing them for short periods of time around the house, perform rises in first and sixth position (parallel) focusing on rolling through the demi pointe position up to full pointe and back down through the demi pointe. It is important that the shoe breaks in the correct places for you, not where you happen to bend them using your hands, or shutting them in doors (this is an old myth as instructed by some teachers/fellow pupils)

Sewing Your Pointe Shoe Ribbons

There are many methods of sewing on your ribbons, we advise you to use one length for each shoe (cut the piece we give you into 2). 

1. Fold down the heel piece of the shoe and draw a pencil line along the inside crease on both sides. 
2. Fold the heel piece inside out and pin the centre of one piece of ribbon to the centre seam of the heel so that  the ribbon sits in front of ie. towards the toe box and flush with the pencil lines. 
3. Using the lines as a guide, sew the ribbon in to place. Sew along each side of the ribbon and along the drawstring casing (be careful not to sew through to the outside of the shoe, stitching should not be visible when the shoe is on the foot) Do not worry if you cannot stitch the whole way round ie. where the ribbon meets the inner sole- the heel will hold the centre of the ribbon in place and you can just tuck the excess ribbon underneath the insole.

This way of sewing your pointe shoe ribbons gives more support to the foot when en pointe and also reduces the chance of the ribbon coming loose as it is much more secure. For a full demonstration please see this YouTube video 

It is a good idea to seal the ends of the ribbons to prevent them from fraying. To do this, carefully burn the end of the ribbon with a lighter/match (please ask an adult to do this for you). The nylon ribbon will melt and this will prevent it from fraying.

The satin on your pointe shoes can be quite slippery and after some wear can rip. It is therefore advisable to alter the platform to protect the satin and also to give some grip whilst dancing. Some dancers like to darn their shoes- especially their first pair. However this can be quite time consuming! A quicker alternative is to glue a piece of suede onto the platform. If you choose the suede tips, use a white glue like copydex or PVA (not superglue) to glue them into place.

How To Glue Your Suede Tips

1.Glue the round part of the tip to the platform of the shoe.
2. Fold the excess suede under the shoe and trim so that the edge of the suede tip meets but does not overlap the outer sole of the shoe, glue into place
.



Taking Care Of Your Feet And Your Shoes! 
 

Make sure your toenails are neatly clipped before class, as this can cause bleeding feet and will make dancing in your shoes uncomfortable. Be careful not to cut the nail too short and only cut straight across (not into the corners as this can cause ingrowing toenails). If you have any blisters or cuts on your toes, it is a good idea to put some microporous tape over them.

After use, remember to store your shoes in a mesh bag (rather than the plastic one some of them come in) so that the shoes can breathe and dry out. This is important to prolong the life of the shoe. The moisture absorbed by your feet when you sweat in class tends to soften the box, giving you less support in the shoe. If possible, hang the shoes out to dry over a door inside your house by tying the ribbons together and hanging one shoe either side.

It is important to always have your shoes fitted, even if you have had several pairs, as your feet will change as they grow/gain strength.

















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A fantastic range of dancewear and dance shoes for every dancer! Brands include Bloch, Capezio, Werner Kern, Freed of London, Rummos, Mirella, Pineapple, Papillon, The Zone gymnastics, Roch Valley and Grishko.

At Attitude you will find dance shoes, leotards, tights and dance accessories for all styles of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, ballroom, latin, salsa, lyrical dance and argentine tango.

Our staff are dancers and performers and are trained Grishko pointe shoe fitters. To arrange an appointment for pointe shoe fitting at our store in Cambridge please contact us.

We hope you enjoy browsing our site and if you have any questions or queries please contact us- we are happy to help!

Attitude Dancewear Ltd
Level 1, 182 Histon Road
Cambridge
CB4 3JP

01223 322227
sales@attitudedancewear.co.uk



 


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