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guide to pointe shoes
guide to pointe shoes
Ballet Blog Dance News

Parents’ Guide to Pointe Shoes

  • May 17, 2016
  • by Laura Di Orio

It’s an exciting time for students and parents when dancers are given the okay to begin studying pointe. It may also, however, feel overwhelming, with the multitude of pointe shoe styles, the crucial accessories, the techniques for sewing and breaking in, and, mostly, where to begin!

Here, we offer a helpful guide for you to ensure your child’s experience on pointe is enjoyable and safe, and also convenient for you!

The Shoes!

It is always best and highly recommended to get a professional pointe shoe fitting for your young dancer as she begins pointe. Each dancer’s feet are different and may require different features in a shoe, so make an appointment at your local dancewear store for a fitting.

“As a pointe shoe specialist, I can help guide the child toward all the correct pointe shoes and products, to make the transition to pointe easier,” says Anitra Keegan, a pointe shoe specialist with Capezio. “I can also explain to both the parents and students the importance of being properly fitted.”

“It’s very important for parents to understand that a dancer must have a properly fitted pointe shoe every time they purchase shoes,” adds Sonja McCord, a pointe shoe specialist with Capezio. “Pointe shoes must fit like a cast and do not allow for growing room; therefore, parents might want to start a pointe shoe savings account! Also, during fittings, it’s important for the parents to let their daughters communicate their own concerns about their shoes. After all, the dancer is wearing them!”

Beginning pointe students may have much luck with Capezio pointe shoes. They are carefully handcrafted, with features both comfortable and safe for even a dancer new to pointe. Capezio has over 125 years of experience in making pointe shoes for beginners, right up to the world’s leading ballerinas.

Kayla Mak, a 10-year-old Capezio Athlete, wears Capezio’s Contempora pointe shoes and says they are perfect for small and narrow feet like hers.

“Make sure your pointe shoes fit right and comfortable or else you can get injured,” she says. “You should buy Capezio pointe shoes because they have many varieties and fit perfectly.”

Keegan says, “There is no beginner pointe shoe. It all depends on the foot. What is fantastic about Capezio pointe shoes is that we have a wide range of styles to fit any foot. We also have refined our shoes to make it more possible for the dancers to articulate their feet better for pointe work.”

McCord adds, “Capezio has a shoe for every shaped foot and arch – Studio Pointe, Contempora, Bella, Airess, Glisse, Plie II and Aerial. Each of these styles come in moderate and extra strong shank strengths, and can be customised when necessary.”

Capezio does sell pre-pointe training shoes, Demi-Pointe T (for tapered toes) and Demi-Pointe B (for broad toes). These shoes allow the dancer to experience what it feels like to be in pointe shoes, without actually dancing on her toes. They make for a wonderful transition shoe between ballet slippers and pointe shoes. Even if the dancer has been given permission to begin pointe, it may be a good idea to also purchase the pre-pointe shoes to wear on non-pointe class dance days.

Ribbons and Elastics

Ribbons and elastics are not just decorative! They offer a functional purpose – ribbons help support the ankles in the pointe shoes, and elastics keep the shoe flush to the heel to avoid slippage. Most pointe shoes do not already come with ribbons and elastics, so be sure to purchase them as well.

Capezio sells Bunheads’ Rehearsal Ribbon and Elastic Pack, which includes just enough materials for one pair of pointe shoes.

Bunheads’ Rehearsal Flexers® are a great ribbon option, as they include a small patch of elastic placed to alleviate pressure on the dancer’s Achilles tendon. They are highly recommended by physical therapists and also offer an aesthetic appeal, as they reduce bagginess of the ribbon after being wrapped around the ankle.

For correct sewing placement of ribbons and elastics, be sure to check with your dancer’s teacher or with someone at your local dancewear store. Bunheads’ Stitch Kit™ is a great tool for sewing pointe shoe accessories. It includes durable pointe shoe-coloured thread and two large, sturdy needles.

Toe Pads

Dancing en pointe will surely be a new sensation for your young dancer. Help soothe their toes with a variety of toe pads and accessories. Bunheads’ Ouch Pouch® is a gel toe pad covered in fabric that provides comfortable support for the toes inside the pointe shoe. These pads are also reversible and can be hand washed. They are also available in a smaller size, Ouch Pouch Jr.®.

Capezio also sells Space Pack®, toe spacers that are placed between toes and help aid correct alignment in toes, prevent bunions and take pressure off soft corns. For dancers who already have bunions, Capezio’s Bunion Guard™ may ease pain and provide proper toe alignment.

Bunheads’ The Big Tip® is an individual gel toe cover for extra cushion and is great for broken or bruised toenails. These covers are great for the dancer’s big toes; Bunheads’ Jelly Tips® and Jelly Toes® are the perfect size for the other toes.

Be careful to not bulk up your dancer’s feet and toes too much, though. She still needs to be able to feel her feet within the pointe shoes! Start off by trying just an Ouch Pouch® or Lamb’s Wool, and then go from there.

Accessories

Products like Bunheads’ Exercise Bands are great for strengthening feet and ankles, according to McCord.

You can make your young dancer’s journey into pointe even more special by giving her a special bag for her pointe shoes and accessories, such as this Pointe Tote Bag.

“As a beginner pointe student, you should take your time and understand it takes hard work to properly go up on pointe,” Keegan concludes. “For parents, I would like to add that even though dance is a beautiful art form, the students are athletes. And with any athlete, they need to have the proper equipment to stay safe. Just as a property fitted helmet will protect a football player, properly fitted pointe shoes will protect the dancer. Even if your child was fitted a month ago with pointe shoes, if your child has a growth spurt, they need to make another appointment to get fitted.”

Produced by Dance Informa.

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