Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pointe Shoe Questions Answered and 24 Pointe Shoe Videos (Fittings and Tips)

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We asked you for some pointe shoe questions on Facebook and Instagram a while back and here are the answers from Josephine Lee . Josephine owns and operates Dancer's Choice Irvine and The Pointe Shop. She is passionate about helping dancers find their "perfect shoe". Be sure to visit her blog at .

Q: I have a student who has been losing toenails from her pointe shoes. One brand caused her pinkie toenails to fall off and one brand cause her big toenails to fall off. What would cause this and what should we look for in her next fitting. Thank you!
Nicole Madden with Springs Dance in Colorado Springs, CO. 

Josephine: Ouch! This is a very common injury. The most common cause for bruised toe nails is an ill-fitting box. If the box is too tapered for her feet, it can cause the pinky toe nail to bruise. If the box is too wide or too broad at the platform, she can bruise her big toe nail. The best thing to look for at your next fitting is the shape of the box. Make sure it matches the shape of her feet.

Q; What shoes are best for low arches?
Linzi Glitter

Josephine: Low arches can be frustrating, but you can find pointe shoes that can assist you. Look for a softer shank and a pre-arched model.  This can help you get over your platform and help you articulate your feet a bit easier. Make sure the softer, pre-arched model will still be able to support you en pointe. If it is too soft, it can be wobbly! 

Q: I have high arches and wide feet too and I have been wearing Gaynors (with a hard shank), although I would like to know how long they should last me because I feel mine are dying super quick... Hannah Nicole (Lovehannahnicole)
Josephine: Lucky you! High arches are a gift, but the price you pay is… well… pricey. Gaynor Mindens are the longest lasting shoe on the market, so you are on the right track. It will be difficult to find anything that will last longer. However, you can do a couple different things: high arch and a flexible feet tend to be a bit weaker (not always, but often). If you can strengthen your feet with lots of barre and theraband exercises, you will be able to support yourself with your feet muscles rather than relying too heavily on your pointe shoes. This way you can make pointe shoes last longer. The second option is to special order your pointe shoes. Gaynor Minden offers a double shank option. This will take a bit longer to make, but it will be worth it!

Q: How can you figure out what kind of platform you need, and how tapered you need your boxes? Balletpeace

Josephine: The size of the platform is generally dependent on the shape of your toes. If you have wider toes, you can wear a wider platform, if you have tapered toes, you usually need a tapered box. How well you balance, how compressive your feet are and what kind of toe pads you wear may also contribute to this question. The best way to find out is to try on and experiment with different shoes. 

Q: How can you fix your pointe shoe from coming off of your foot and how can you figure out what platform that you will need and how tapered you need your boxes? livi.drane

Josephine: It is probably the most annoying thing to have your heels slip off during dance class or worse, during a performance. This is a common yet difficult problem to solve. However, there are a few tricks that may help you. 1. Wear stirrup tights. When your heel is exposed, the shoe grips on to the skin much better than tights. 2. Rub rosin on the back of your tights. This will also have more friction to help keep the heels up. 3. Wear tighter shoes. This may be a bit uncomfortable, but typically if the shoes fit tighter, it stays up a little easier. 

Q: What is the best brand for beginners and how do you choose? Demmerpinkbritain

Josephine: There is really no such thing as “beginner” shoes (unless we are talking about demi-pointe shoes). Each brand and model can be worn by beginners to professionals. Beginners tend to wear shoes that are softer so they can articulate at the barre, but once they go into the center, they need the extra support. The type of shoes you wear all depends on what kind of feet you have and what you need help on. 

Q: I just got my first pointe shoes, any suggestions on how to break them in or sew them? Tessa_yuzda

Josephine: I would stay away from modifying your first pair of pointe shoes too much. It is OK to gently bend the shoe at the arch or softly press down on the box if you need a little bit more comfort, but a well-fitted shoe should be fairly comfortable. For your first few years en pointe, you should just allow your feet to naturally break in the shoes. Over the years, you will learn what you specifically need to modify and make your shoes feel best. Modifying shoes can shorten the lifespan of a pointe shoe so be careful when you start. Pointe shoes are highly individual. You will learn your own preferences on how to break them in and where to sew on the ribbons and elastic throughout your dance career. It is definitely a journey. Enjoy it :) 

Q: How to properly jet glue almost dead pointe shoes? Mia__andrea

Josephine: The best time to jet glue your pointe shoes is actually before you start to wear them. It gives the shoes the support you need and breaks the shoes down slower. As the shoe breaks down more, you want to add a little more at a time. When you jet glue a dead pair of pointe shoes, it gets into the cracks and it doesn’t do much to harden them. 

Q: How do you know when your shoes are dead?

Josephine: Pointe shoes die in different ways depending on the dancer and the type of shoes. When the shoes start to die, they may pull the dancer back, push them over or feel like they’re sinking. The shoes may also break in different places, such as the box or the shank. When the shoe starts to die, they will no longer support the dancer’s feet and ankles and will feel unstable.

Q: I have high arches but my shoes are never flexible enough to show them. What shoes are good for high arches and wide feet? Cocaboba

Josephine: If you have high arches but feel like your shoes don’t show them off, your feet are most likely bending in your pointe shoes without bending the shoes. The best way to show them off is a ¾ shank. This will allow you enough support in the metatarsal but will bend where your feet arch so you can show off those pretty feet. If you’re wide, try a Suffolk Spotlight. They have wider options as well as a ¾ shank ☺

How to 3/4 shank your pointe shoes

Check out some pointe shoe fittings on my youtube channel (12 videos) - xo Robbie

Bonus - 12 videos with pointe shoe tips from MyDanceTv

If you enjoy my blog and videos follow by email here and never miss a thing

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