A Guide for Starting Pointe
When should I start pointe work; As a child the minimum age you can start pointe is 11-12 yrs and you should have been studying syllabus work from a young age. As an adult/teen dancer pointe work can start at the barre only when you have been regularly attending ballet classes for at least 12-18 months, you should have the strength in your legs to be able to perform slow rises in demi pointe shoes in the centre without the use of a ballet barre. For those wanting to do pointe work in the centre as well as the barre you should have been attending regular ballet classes for several years and have the strength and technique to avoid injury (grade 5 plus or improver/ intermediate level.) If you are unsure speak to your teacher as it will be different for each student.
At the Fitting - It’s important that your pointe shoes are fitted in person and not bought online, you will need to book a fitting at a dance shop and have the shoes fitted by a professional. Take any padding or toe spacers to the fitting that you plan to wear inside your shoes as they will affect the fit of the shoe.
Padding - make sure that your padding doesn’t cover the demi pointe section of your foot. If it does you can cut this section out. Toe pads shouldn’t be too bulky as this can impact how you can use the pointe shoe. You will lack control in the foot making it feel unstable and you will lose the connection with the floor.
Toe spacer - these are good for correcting the alignment of the big toe especially if you have a bunion. Make sure these are not too big as can cause your foot to sickle inside the shoe.
After the fitting - make sure you send a video, photo, or get your teacher to check your pointe shoes before you sew them to ensure they are correct for your feet. Pointe shoes are expensive and once they are sewn they can’t be returned so it’s important that the teacher checks they are right for your feet.
Breaking in pointe shoes - as a beginner dancer you should let your feet break in the shoe. The fitter should fit you with a bendy shoe if you are new to pointe.
Storing your shoes - make sure you take your pointe shoes out of your bag after each class, hang them somewhere to dry and stuff them with tissue paper or kitchen roll until the next class. Any padding should also be removed from the shoe.
Looking after your feet - it’s important that before class your toenails are trimmed, take time to wash your feet after class and dry your feet thoroughly, if the skin on your feet is soft you can use surgical spirit to harden the skin. Take cotton wool pad and wipe surgical spirit over the toes to harden the skin.
Sewing Pointe Shoes - Angle the ribbon inside the pointe shoe 45 degrees, sew in a square around the ribbon, you can bend the back on the shoe draw a line with a pencil, and that’s where you place your ribbon, elastic should follow the same angle of the ribbon. The ribbon on the outside of the pointe shoe should be slightly shorter.
Darning Pointe Shoes - You can darn the top of your pointe shoes using a blanket stitch alternatively you can purchase a suede tip which you can glue to the top of your pointe shoes. This will add grip to the top of the shoe making you feel more secure and stable when you start pointe.
Tying pointe shoes - Replicate a plie position when you tie your pointe shoes, rather than sit on your bottom you should kneel. You should always have a left and right shoe which should be marked. When tying the shoes the inside ribbon should be wrapped around the foot first, then the outside ribbon around the top, tie the ribbon on the inside of the shoe, trim off the excess and tuck inside the ribbon inside.