Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Breaking In Pointe Shoes

Breaking In Pointe Shoes

When you purchase a new pair of pointe shoes they are hard, really hard. All pointe shoes need to be broken in so that they feel comfortable enough to dance in. In a beginning pointe class for new pointe students, the teacher will most likely spend the majority of the first few weeks putting the students through exercises and combinations that will help with the natural process of breaking their new shoes in. After that, students will wear out their pointe at different rates and it will be up to the students from there on to break in any new shoes.

It really doesn't take that long to break in a new pair of pointe shoes. It does, however, take extra time outside of class to work the shoes in. You cannot rely on only using class time to break in your pointe shoes. You must have them as danceable as possible, so that you do not waste valuable class time. Often new pointe shoes can bring on new blisters or sore spots, so you do not want to expect take a dance class in a new pair of shoes that you have not had on your feet much.

When you first receive your new pair of shoes, bend the shank back and forth by hand a bit. Hold one end of the shoe by the toe and the other end of the shoe by the heel. Bend the shoe gently back and forth. I also recommend laying the pointe shoe on the floor and stepping on the toe box with my heel. This seemed to make the toe box and little less hard. The best way to encourage your pointe shoes to soften up is to have your feet in them. Put the pointe shoes on your feet and just walk around the room on demi pointe for 15 minutes. This is a great start and just having your warm feet in the shoes helps a lot. Doing simple exercises at the barre, such as standing in 1st or 2nd position and rolling each foot to demi pointe, full pointe, demi pointe, and back to flat foot is also a good easy start. You can then go onto walking 2-4 steps on demi pointe and then 2-4 steps on full pointe across the barre and then across the floor.

When breaking in a new pair of pointe shoes, I suggest not wearing them for a full class right away. Start off in the new pair, and then part way through the class change back into your old shoes. At the end of class, leave your pointe shoes out to dry. Don't leave them in your dance bag until next week. Pointe shoes will last longer if they dry properly between classes. Your pointe shoes will also last longer if you change feet every class. Don't always put the same shoe on your right and left foot. Alternate them so they last longer. You should also be doing this with your regular ballet slippers. Lastly, I recommend that when you purchase pointe shoes, purchase two pairs at a time. Break them in gradually about the same time. That way, when your shoes start to get too broken down, you already have a comfortable pair waiting in the wings. This is also a fantastic idea if you are in a large production or going through extensive rehearsals.

All dancers eventually find their own system of breaking in their shoes. Once you figure out what works for you, it becomes easier. We all love it when those pointe shoes get soft and comfy, but we must remember to replace those pointe shoes before they get so comfy that an injury could occur.
Please send any comments or tips you may have about breaking in pointe shoes!

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