Pointe Shoes

Dancers have a love-hate relationship with their pointe shoes. They give us blisters, make our feet throb and don’t last very long—but if anyone tried to take them away, we’d chase them off with a stick.

 

So when former dancer Eliza Gaynor Minden took a closer look at traditional pointe shoe brands and noticed where improvements could be made, she jumped at the chance to develop a high-tech pointe shoe under the label Gaynor Minden.

 

Is it time your pointe shoes had a makeover? Gordon Waddington thinks so. A professor of physiotherapy at Australia’s University of Canberra, Waddington is developing an insole that will give dancers extra "grip" in their pointe shoes. It's made from textured PVC material that has a lined pattern so that it locks onto the skin. The hope is that giving dancers more control in their pointe shoes will help prevent ankle and leg injuries. Students at the Australian Ballet School are currently testing it out during their barrework over the course of an 11-week trial.

As a teenager, I'd spend hours at a time trying on pointe shoes at San Francisco Dancewear. The search for the perfect fit felt as elusive as Ponce de León's Fountain of Youth. I really had no concrete idea what I was looking for, other than something that made my feet look good and didn't hurt—too much.

 

The School at Steps in New York City is hosting a pointe shoe workshop at their studios next Saturday. This year's event is geared toward dancers who are just starting out on pointe, but all levels are invited to attend. Hear from podiatrists, expert pointe shoe fitters, master teachers and professional dancers. After the discussion, representatives from Capezio, Freed, Grishko, Gaynor Minden and Sansha will be on hand to speak with dancers about their shoes and let them try on a variety of styles.

 

Date: October 15

Time: 5 to 7:30 pm

There's not a single ballet dancer I know who doesn't have a love/hate affair with her pointe shoes. Her artistry depends on her shoes never letting her down. But while they can give her the strength and support to find freedom onstage, if she doesn't have the right fit or doesn't understand how to use them, her shoes will simply be an endless source of blisters, bruised toenails, Achilles tendonitis and more.

 

Published December 11, 2009
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Mara Vinson Brand: Freed of LondonSize: 5XXXMaker: Mostly “key”Padding: None!Years wearing this shoe: Eight or nineBreak-in process: She removes the heel section of the shank and softens the box with herfingers, then applies glue to both the tip and shank.Number…more »
Published December 1, 2009
New York City Ballet principal Ashley Bouder knows exactly what she needs in a pointe shoe.more »
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A beautifully pointed foot takes time and a certain amount of ankle flexibility.more »
Published November 25, 2009
Your comprehensive guide to 29 pointe shoe makers, plus how they are made, what’s new and accessories.more »
Published November 24, 2009
A look at pointe shoe improvements in the past decademore »