Recently, BallerinaBlogger from A Dancer's Days wrote an article on "Timing" Your Pointe Shoes. It was something I had never thought about before. I had thought about keeping them from wearing out, but never preparing for when they wore out. Here is the article:
"Timing" Your Pointe Shoes
That title is probably boggling your mind right now. :-)
No really, it's important to "time" when you wear your shoes and how long you wear them. Especially during summer camp.
Your shoes typically last a few hours. Mine have been lasting longer and longer as my feet have been growing stronger. It's important to know how long it takes for your shoes to "die" so by the time your shoes are dead, you have another pair ready to go. Believe me, you don't want to end up with a pair of extremely dead shoes and brand new ones. Can you say "ow"?
Ridiculously enough, that is EXACTLY what happened to me this week. Save yourself the trouble of learning this the hard way and take my advice! :P
Keep a notebook that tracks how long your shoes are lasting. Record every time you wear a specific pair and how long you wore them. Also put in notes about how soft/flexible they are. I would do this for about four pairs of shoes to know for sure what the average time-line is.
By doing this, you'll know when it's time to start breaking in a new pair of shoes. When it comes to pointe shoes you ALWAYS want to be prepared! I'd keep at least three pairs with you at all times. That gives you plenty of options depending on what your feet need or what would work
best with the dance you're rehearsing.
BTW: BallerinaBlogger wrote this article HER blog for HER readers, not specially for this blog. I had nothing to do whatsoever with the article.
BallerinaBlogger has been very kind and has answered these questions that I put together. Thanks so much BallerinaBlogger!
I got my first pair of pointe shoes almost five years ago. I was ten years old and was super excited! I was aware of those dangers as the teacher putting me on pointe had taught us a lot about pointe shoes before taking us to buy our first pair. And plus my mom had spent some time doing research about pointe shoes in order to know how to properly take care of them. I'm so glad my mom had gotten so involved with my dancing and although she herself never did ballet, she knows practically just as much about it as I do.
When you started summer camp, did you realize a change in your pointe shoes, they were wearing out faster, hurting your feet and ankles? Is this what gave you the idea to write this article?
The first summer camp I had ever done en pointe, I immediately noticed them softening faster and the many changes in their shape as they softened. Now that I have been dancing/doing summer intensives for so many years, I know what to expect and how to deal with my many shoes. I actually made the mistake of not lining up very many shoes before beginning my summer intensive and ended up with a pair of extremely worn shoes and brand new ones. They KILLED my feet! I was so frustrated and wanted to precaution everyone to come prepared like I use to. Really dead shoes tend to be more dangerous because you have much more flexibility in your shoes and it makes "rolling" over your ankle much easier. That could lead to so many different injuries.
Define "Your shoes typically last a few hours". By "dying" do you mean becoming soft, and the box begins to wear down? If so, when shoes "die", are they "dead" or are the done for the day?
Haha! Your pointe shoes "dying" is a term that dancers use to say "my shoes are getting very soft and worn". When shoes are "dead" they are DONE. AKA: it's time to store them away or put them in the trash. I personally like to keep my old shoes in a giant chest; it doesn't feel right to throw away something so special... And expensive! When I say "your shoes typically last a few hours" I literally mean that. I once had a pair of shoes that only lasted me 4 1/2 hours. It depends on how long you're wearing your shoes, your brand of shoes and the moisture they're obtaining. I couldn't tell you how long a certain brand of shoes lasts because every situation is different and every foot is different. It's impossible to know until you've worn a single brand and size for a fair amount of time.
Can you suggest a way to organize your pointe shoes in you notebook? (i.e. filing under brand, type, or feel)
When I organize the information (Which I don't really need to do anymore because I am so use to my shoes) I would write it out kind of like this:
Brand: Russian Pointe (Example)
Original shank hardness: (Pointe shoes typically come in soft, medium or hard shanks)
Shoes have been worn for: (Record how many hours shoes have been worn. You can record your hours each day and then add them up when your shoes have fully died)
At what "point of pain" do you suggest to start breaking in a new pair of pointe shoes?
Firstly, if there's a lot of pain going on down in those feet, I would get them checked out! There's a clear line between the "ow" kind of hurt and the "oh-my-gosh-I-think-I-just-
Breaking in pointe shoes is all about their hardness or stiffness. It also depends on how many pairs you want at once. If you want two pairs to wear at once, then I would break in a pair until they got getting slightly soft. So they're flexible enough to dance with in the center but still on the newer side. That's when I would start to wear the brand new pair at the barre.
It's really a process that you have to figure out on your own. That's why it's good to know how long it takes for your shoes to break in/what their lifespan is. Then you'll know right when to start breaking in the next pair.
Thanks for answering all of these questions. I've found the information really useful. Do you have any final words for budding ballerinas?
My last piece of advice for the day is to experiment. There is no harm in trying something new to find exactly what works for you. I myself have tried countless different brands of shoes. (No joke) Ask your instructors for advice/tips but always remember that it's your dancing career, your life and your body.
And lastly, I have a surprise tutorial for you........
Pointe Shoe Notebooks!
Unused Composition Book
2 pieces scrapbook paper
Old Paint Brush
Find an old composition note book.
Measure it across the top, and down the side. Make sure that you measure from the edge of the black tape.
mine was 6 3/4 x 9 3/4 inch. your is probably about the same.
Cut 2 pieces of scrapbook paper the same measurements as the notebook. Set the scraps aside.
You can use pretty much any kind of Mod Podge........I used Outdoor because that was the only kind that I could find in our basement ;)
Paint your Mod Podge onto the cover with the old paintbrush. Use smooth strokes, and cover the entire thing. Right before you lay the paper on, smooth out all of the gluebumps with the paint brush. Lay to paper on. Rub the paper starting at the center and working outwards. Smooth all of the bumps out. Over-glazing is optional, I went without.
Rip up two pieces of the scrap paper. Note: If you want to write your name on the notebook, do the smaller piece in plain white, not pattern.
Put Mod Podge on the back of the larger piece, and stick it to the notebook, wherever you want, smoothing it out from the center, to the corners.
Put Mod Podge on the back of the smaller piece, and put it ontop of the bigger piece. Once again, over-glazing is optional.