Ask Amy - Web Exclusive

Published in the June/July 2012 issue.

Photo by Nathan Sayers

My teacher said that I could three-quarter my pointe shoes to make it easier to get right on the box, but I’m not sure how. I’m afraid that I might ruin my shoes. —Doireann

Three-quartering pointe shoes is easy, but does take some practice. Try it on an old pair first so that it’s not a complete waste if you make a mistake.

First you’ll need to remove the nail that holds the shank to the heel of the shoe. Peel the sockliner back halfway (do not remove it) to expose the inner sole. Using needlenose pliers, gently pry the heel portion of the inner sole from the bottom of the shoe and pull out the nail.

Before you start cutting, you need to know exactly where the shank hits underneath your heel—I sometimes put the shoe on and slip a pen under my arch to mark the spot. Then, use a cutting tool like an X-Acto knife to carefully slice the marked-off section of cardboard. Usually it’s a process of trial and error before you cut the shank exactly right. To avoid making an irreparable mistake, cut slightly higher than where you’ve marked and try the shoe on. If the shank digs into your heel or if you feel pulled back on your platform, cut the shank a little lower. Cut a little piece off at a time until you feel placed right on top of the platform on pointe.

The blunt edge of a three-quartered shank can chafe the bottom of your foot and cause blisters, so smooth the sockliner back down over the insole. Sometimes after the liner is loosened it can to roll up and lodge uncomfortably under the foot, so I always sew mine down with thread.

Have a question? Click here to send it to Suzanne Farrell Ballet dancer Amy Brandt.