Welcome, I am happy you found my blog. I am a passionate dancer and life time ballet fan who also is the proud mom of 2 girls who happen to take after the same passion. Guess what, this blog will initially talk about ... tutus, yes that's right.

Oh ... before you read on and go exploring, please take my short poll on this page on your prefered kind of tutu. Hope to see you back soon.

Picture above obtained from
http://thedesigninspiration.com/photos/balletbird .

Copyright please see author in the original source.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

How Ballet Pointe Shoes are made and unmade

You probably know by now that I love tutus; long, short, bell shaped, pancake or not, you name it, but a classical ballerina is not really complete without her pointe shoes. I know that some of my fellow adult dancers will disagree with me, but just as much as I like dancing barefoot or with feet thongs for contemporary or jazz, let's face it, for classical work there really is no way around it.
Photograph by Kike Calvo - National Geographic Stock

It seems that every little girl sooner or later gets it into her pretty stubborn head to go "on pointe" - without the appropriate shoes on that is. No matter how many times I keep on telling them at the studio not to do this, it simply is irresistable to them. I hope I will still be around them in a couple of years to see how their little blistered feet will fare once they will actually get into those instruments of torture.

Instruments of tortur or not, I absolutely loved dancing with them. I had my fair share of pointe work when I was ...ahem... let's say - younger. Unfortunately I stopped that some 20 years ago when I had stopped dancing altogether when going to college. Despite the numerous amount of pointes I have litteraly danced to ribbons, strangely enough I never really thought about how they are actually made.

Used pointe shoes

I have a rather nice but overdeveloped "coup de pied" - no, no banana feet, thank you - so I used to dance on pointes with double soles having a metal strip in between them in order not to "go over" them immediately. When I see how some actually need to take out the soles of their new pointes it gives me shivers!

Nowadays I have rather simple pointes lying around, screaming to be broken in. I used to darn them, but admit that now I just buy them with a leather patch on the shank.Oh, and I bought some of those fancy new Ouch pouches and elastic ribbons. Wish they had been around before!
Pitty that all my used pointe shoes have disappeared in the meanwhile. I would have been so proud to show them to my girls. I though they were safely stored on the attick at my parents home, but no, they threw them out some years back! Can you imagine that? Throwing out the results of years of blisters, blood, sweat and tears!

Photograph by Bill Cooper - The Royal Ballet

Unless you have a fairly close relationship with a dancer, you would probably be astounded at the number of pointe shoes a dancer goes through - and the rate at which they do so.

Someone taking regular classes can use up a pair of pointes a week, even when using hardners, depending on the strength of the dancer's feet, the brand of shoe, and humidity. 
Professional dancers report that the average life time of a pair of pointe shoes is about 8 hours and some principal dancers even require more than one pair per performance! Dancers rotate some 10 pairs of pointe shoes at a time. So they may have one pair that they use for class every morning; other pairs designated for rehearsals, and special pairs that feel really good reserved for one performance.

They are also responsible for re-stiffening their shoes with special glue once the shoes are broken in, but they must also wait until the pair is completely dry and sweat-free in order to do so. Pointe shoes can be high-maintenance! 

Autographed pointe shoes
The Pacific Northwest Ballet reports the number of worn out pointe shoes for a Nutcracker season to be around 500. Luckily they can still sell their autographed used pairs to eager ballet fans.

 But hey, I was just a dance student and my pointes definitely lasted longer than 8 hours. Hmm, I wonder if that tells anything about my dancing.

Either way, I did not have 500 pairs on the attick, I figure they could have kept at least one pair, just one, no? Well, I just had to buy new ones after that, right?

Anyway, and so it came to be that when I stumbled accross this vid explaining how pointes are made, I just had to share it with you. If you are interested in reading in more detials about pointe making, you can find an excellent description here.

And then I found this one from the Dutch National Ballet , explaining how just as easily they are ... unmade. Ha, I remember the tapping and hammering.



PS: Okay now that we are just among us, I'll share one of my secret objectives with you, but don't tell anyone - I hope to get back on pointes, hopefully by next year when I'll have built up some more strength in my ankles. I'll keep you posted.


  1. Wow! Love this video. The highlight of my 2010 (new year's eve, in fact!) was a visit to the ENB pointe shoe room as part of a prize I won to see them in rehearsal. It's definitely the stuff of (little girls') dreams. Good luck with your own pointe shoe aspirations, I am nearly 30 and back dancing en pointe, so am sure you can do it! xx

  2. when i was a teenager, i tried to build my own pointe shoes, after lots and lots of research...with strips of newspaper, glue, and satin. i managed but they were really awkward looking and i could only stand in them not really dance...hahaha it's hilarious to think about now. great post!

    1. I started to make my own as well but gave up sooner than you. Think I was about 12 or 13. Bravo you!

  3. OMG! I love the art of ballet and the way pointe shoes work. I am a ballet dancer myself and love, love, love it! I am in a Prep for Pointe class and hope to earn my pointe shoes later this year! Sydney A.


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