Pointe Shoes

POINTE SHOE INFORMATION

1.  At What Age Can I Start Pointe Work?

There is no absolute answer for when to start pointe it is more about physical dance ability, strength and maturity when deciding a dancer’s 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 importance 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.

2.  Why are demi-Pointe shoes essential in preparing for pointe?

We were not anatomically designed to stand on our toes in pointe shoes, yet most people, when they think of ballet, imagine a dancer on pointe, and so it is every girl’s dream to reach that stage whether a hobby dancer or not.  Teachers therefore often feel pressure to put girls on pointe for fear of them giving up ballet. We are faced with a situation then of many girls going on pointe before they are truly ready, and often finding it so painful that they then give up ballet anyway. In addition to taking up an extra hour of ballet a week, and doing many preparatory foot, ankle and core strength exercises, a demi-pointe shoe:
-encourages better ankle control and balance due its thicker sole,
-works the intrinsic muscles in the foot much harder
-gets the foot used to working in a confined space
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 dancer’s 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.

3. Preparation For Your Pointe Shoe Fitting

When coming for a 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. 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.

4.  Breaking In' Your Pointe Shoes

Remember to gently break in your shoes and mold 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)

5.  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 center of one piece of ribbon to the center 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 around 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.

6. Suede Tips  
  
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 PVA (not superglue) to glue them into place.
Here at Starlight Dancewear we have been professionally trained to fit pointe shoes by the experts at Grishko and were awarded certification on completion so we do have your child’s best interest at heart when fitting the shoes.
   
Where possible, please arrange and appointment for your fitting as it can take up to an hour- especially for a first pair
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190a St Aidan’s Avenue, Mill Hill, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB2 4EA
Tel: 01254 279277    Email: elaine@starlightdancewear.co.uk