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.


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.

8 thoughts on “Breaking in Pointe Shoes: Advice and Link Round Up

  1. Hello – what advice would you give to Irish dancers who are dancing en pointe? I am not one of them but I am interested in your suggestions. Thanks Nora

      • Both. They are trying to do the same thing even though the technique, style and shoes are different. Any comment?

      • I don’t really know much about Irish dancing, my experience with it only lasted a few years and I never got to hard shoes, so I feel pretty unqualified to comment. However I’d say that with any kind of dancing on your toes, strength and conditioning for your feet is paramount. Either way the shoes only provide some of the support so it’s important that your feet are strong enough to dance en pointe. It’s also important that shoes are maintained and are still in good condition for dancing so that they don’t cause injury. Beyond that, in regards to Irish dancing, I wouldn’t know specific tips.

      • Thanks very much. That’s pretty much what I would have thought from what I know so far also. How would you suggest to keep shoes maintained? Thanks Nora

      • Mostly just keeping them dry and aired, especially after class as sweat does start to break down the materials used to construct the shoe. Pointe shoes should never be washed or wiped with a wet cloth as this will soften the glue in the satin, leather shoes benefit from having beeswax rubbed into their outer sides to keep the leather conditioned – not the soles though, that’s a recipe for disaster.

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