Breaking in Pointe Shoes: Advice and Link Round Up

I love getting emails from my former students, and recently I got one from a girl who was in my class (at school) last year. She was super-excited about going back to ballet and getting her first pair of pointe shoes and wanted some advice on how to break them in. There is so much information on the web, but it can be hard to know which advice to trust here is some of the advice I gave her plus a few good links.

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Choosing Shoes

It’s impossible to know what shoes will fit until you try them on, but it is a good idea to do your research and find out about different shoes. Some will be suitable for a beginner and some (especially those with 3/4 shank) are only suitable for a more experienced dancer. There’s some really great information about different brands of shoes here.

Understanding your Shoes

You may think you know dance shoes, but trust me, pointe shoes a whole different kettle of fish, and there’s a lot of technical vocab that goes with them. Here’s a great breakdown of what the different part of a pointe shoe are.

Understand the Cost

Pointe shoes are expensive no doubt about it! This video shoes you how pointe shoes are made and makes you realise why the cost so much.

Break your Shoes in Slowly

A lot of my students want to hurry to break their shoes in, or they’ve seen videos of dancers hammer their shoes or sticking them in a door. The reality is that as a beginner on pointe, you don’t yet know what your feet need. Take it slow, walk around the house in your pointe shoes, do some slow releves and rises (after your teacher has shown you how to do them properly), let the work you do in class break them in. You may also like to gently squeeze the box of your shoe and soften it a little with your hands, but don’t take to your shoe with anything hard. As you get used to pointe shoes you’ll start to develop your own way of breaking them in, but it’s also interesting to see what professional dancers do; here are some of the tips from dancers in the Australian Ballet Company.

Connect with Other Dancers

One of the best places to get information about pointe shoes is online. There is a great forum (mainly for ballet dancers) called Ballet Talk for Dancers – check it out for lots of great advice. It’s well moderated so you can trust all the information there.

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Choosing how to Dance

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, so I though it was time for an update. One of the things I’ve missed most is just writing from a personal point of view – and this is at least part of what I always intended this blog to be – so here we go!

To say life has been busy lately would be an understatement, but it’s a wonderful, full kind of busy, the kind that makes you really happy, rather than stressed or worked up. My darling son is growing well, and already loves dancing. At 14 weeks it’s hard to tell exactly what kind of dancing, but if I were to hazard a guess I’d have to say it looks like he’s got the Irish jig pretty well down pat!

Of course having a wee one has meant a lot of changes for me as a dancer. At the moment it isn’t really viable for me to take a regular technique class in the evenings, having been at work all day. It’s really difficult to commit to a fixed time and day every week, so instead I’m going to take local drop in classes when I can – ideally once a week. Luckily I live in a city full of awesome classes, and I’m actually pretty excited about the variety this will give me. Classes I’m planning on taking include: advanced open ballet with Raise (led by some of the RNZB dancers!), senior open ballet at The New Zealand School of Dance, advanced jazz at the Whitireia Theatre, Xtend Barre (ballet meets pilates) and Melt Method (pilates meets myfascial release) classes at The Mat Class, and possibly even some aerial yoga at JoYogAerial. All in all I think it’s going to work out really well being able to have so much diversity.

Of course I’m still dancing at school – this term we’re working on our Stage Challenge entry assisted by 5 lovely year 9s who have just left us for college, and I have to say I’m looking forward to working with them again. I’ll also be coaching aerobics too which is always fun. I’ve still got big plans for The Dance Well Centre and classes will hopefully start soon, once we have the numbers. So there’ll definitely be plenty of teaching going on!

Combine this with some independent practice and stretching and I think I should have enough dancing to keep me happily occupied without taking me away from my family too much.