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Frequently Asked Questions:

 

How do you know when you are ready to start pointe work?

There are some prerequisites to starting pointe work. Although age is not necessarily a prerequisite, many ballet students do not begin to dance on pointe earlier than approximately 12–14 years of age because bones in the feet are often too soft prior to that age and are at higher risk for injury. Oftentimes dance studios require their dancers to get x-rays performed on their feet and have their physician verify whether the dancer's feet are ready for pointe work prior to age 12.

Another key determining factor is strength in the legs, feet, ankles, and core. Ballet students are generally ready to begin pointe work after achieving competency in fundamental ballet technique and have been dancing for a number of years. Dancers take pre-pointe typically for about a year before they are allowed to get pointe shoes. However, it is to the discretion of the dance instructor to determine if one year of pre-pointe is sufficient or if the dancer needs more time to prepare.

Do pointe shoes hurt? How should a new pointe shoe feel?

Pointe shoes will hurt, but not nearly as much as you think. They should not feel as roomy and comfortable as regular street shoes and should feel pretty snug with slight pressure at the end of the shoe.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t think your first pair is “the one.” It’s important to remember that this is a process. Many dancers continue to change their pointe shoes periodically throughout their careers as their abilities, strengths, and preferences change.


Why can’t I buy pointe shoes a little bit bigger so that I can grow into them?

Pointe shoes must fit very closely to the shape of your foot to be able to properly support the dancer's full body weight, properly distributing the wight through the whole foot while on pointe. An improper fit may cause the dancer to 'sink' in the shoe causing discomfort, calluses, bruises to joints, and even severe injuries to ankles and toe-joints.

Can you get injured in Pointe Shoes?

Dancing en pointe stresses the feet in various ways and can potentially cause injuries if the dancer does not plan ahead with training and/or take into account health & safety concerns. Proper training in the dancer's technique can help prevent injury.

Common injuries:

 

Most can be prevented by getting a properly fitting shoe by a fitter, use the correct wrapping/padding for toes & keep toenails trimmed. 

How do I break in my pointe shoes?

 

Dancers typically "break in" new pointe shoes to reduce or eliminate the discomfort they commonly cause. It is recommended to not break in your shoes immediately and to let them break themselves in for the first 2-3 classes to avoid over-correcting & shortening the life of the shoe. There are many different techniques for breaking in pointe shoes, including deforming them with hands or against hard surfaces, striking them on hard surfaces, and moistening or heating the boxes to soften the glues, but these methods may shorten a pointe shoe's usable lifespan. If you are new to pointe work, please consult your teacher regarding breaking in your shoes before adjusting them yourself.

 

How do I know when it is time for a new pair?

 

A pointe shoe is no longer usable when the shank breaks or the shoe becomes too soft to provide proper support.

What is the life span of a Pointe Shoe?

Depending on the dancer's experience, strength, schedule & dance floor, a pair of pointe shoes can last between 2 to 15 hours of dancing.  For beginners/students, however, under moderate usage, a pair of pointe shoes can typically last through ten to 20 hrs of wear. 

 

A Professional Ballerina can go through 100 - 120 pairs of pointe shoes in a single dancing year.  Some pointe shoes will only last a single performance in a heavy duty role where the shoes are worked hard.  

The lifetime of a pointe shoe depends on many factors:

  • Usage: More aggressive dance styles and more frequent, longer duration of use will accelerate wear down of the shoe.

  • Dance technique: Improper technique subjects shoes to unusual stresses that may lead to premature failure.

  • Fit: Well fitting pointe shoes encourage proper technique, which in turn leads to longer shoe life.

  • Weight: younger girl typically weigh

  • Breaking-in: The breaking-in process simulates accelerated wear, and thus may shorten the life of a shoe. 

  • Surface: Rough surfaces cause the exterior fabric to wear out; in contrast to smooth surfaces such as Marley floors, which minimize the rate of fabric wear.

  • Foot Strength: Stronger arch muscles exert a greater force on the shank, causing it to bend more and thus accelerating its wear.

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