How dancers prepare their pointe shoes

How dancers prepare their pointe shoes

Every ballerina customises her pointe shoes to adapt them to her shape and tastes. Soloist Laura Tong shows us step by step how she likes to whip hers into shape – with the help of pliers, shellac and a Stanley knife.

Photography by Jasmin Tulk

8 April 2011

19 Responses to How dancers prepare their pointe shoes

  1. Alicia says:

    Awesome article! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Pingback: Good site to share « Just about Serena…

  3. Catherine says:

    I love the step-by-step photos. I can only imagine how painful it would be to dance in them and yet make it look effortless.

  4. Samantha says:

    I love this!!

  5. Jenni says:

    Ouch, that brings back some memories, thank you…

  6. Nic says:

    Loved this… so interesting!!!

  7. Rachel says:

    Wow, fascinating insight! I had no idea they go through so many pairs of shoes so quickly

  8. poppy walker says:

    i can not wait until i get my pointe shoes it going to be so fun dancing in them

  9. Montanna Conyngham says:

    When I get bigger thats exactly what I’ll be doing with my pointe shoes. Thank-you for the tip.

  10. Lisa McManus says:

    This was great information. I hope you are running the Pointe Shoe Workshop in Melbourne again this year. I haven’t seen it in the calendar though. My daughter was enrolled last yeat but had to perform on the same weekend so couldn’t make it. She was very disappointed. Please run the day again this year!

  11. Robyn Martin (nee Harvey) says:

    Interesting to see that the only part of pointe shoe preparation that has changed since I was performing in the Queensland Ballet 30 years ago is the use of chux as toe caps inside the shoes. When I studied at VCA School of Dance we weren’t allowed to use any toe protection inside our shoes at all so when we got blisters we dried them out with baby powder and then put metho on them to toughen our feet up. We went through a lot of band aids! We also used doors to soften the blocks and another trick to reduce the noise the block of the shoe makes on the stage was to wrap the shoe in a hand towel and bash it against a concrete wall. It made quite a racket when all the girls were bashing their shoes in echoey corridors in the theatre. To keep our shoes on our heels we wet the back heel section and then rubbed it in the rosin box. Some girls added elastics that attached to the outside of the shoe at the back of the heel and went around the ankle. We didn’t have the luxury of having shoes custom made for our feet like the Australian Ballet dancers do and a lot of us had major problems with shoes coming off our heels.

  12. Jayne says:

    Oh yes that takes me back. I never used shellac though.
    My Mum would have an absolute fit after buying me two new pairs of shoes at the beginning of the year that I would immediately start tearing them up & putting them on in the shower to shape them to my already bunioned toes. I used a little lambs fleece in my shoes even though we weren’t supposed to pad them. I’m now paying for those years en point with Nana like feet at 43.

  13. Caitlin Luck says:

    Thanks :)
    What type of pointe shoes are they??

  14. Phoebe says:

    Thank you Laura for sharing how you make your pointe shoes work for you. I have one of your pointe shoes from The Nutcracker, Sydney, 2010. I looked at your pointe shoe as I went through each photo. Now I understand why it looks like it does! Thanks again.

  15. meagan says:

    wow dishcloth i use gel and that still kills. :)

  16. Jane Steinberg says:

    wow ! thanks Laura most interesting .

  17. Amber says:

    Wow!!
    I have now been doing pointe work for 6 years now and Firstly icant believe you use wash cloths to protect your toes!!!
    I just use ouch pouches and it still hurts.
    Secondly thanks for showing how you prepare your shoes it has given me lots of tips for my dance schools up coming concert, I as a lead role will have to have pretty good shoes, so now I’m sorted!!
    Thank :)

  18. Athena says:

    I love ballet so much that i will be a principal dancer at the Sydney Opera House!! can’t wait and i love the pics!!!!!! :)

  19. Sarah says:

    Thank you very much for this brilliant tutorial of how you prepare your pointe shoes!! I hope there are more wonderful tutorials from the dancers themselves :)

    From Sarah 12

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