POINTE SHOE PREP
Don't forget with Pointe Shoes there is no Left and Right. So first decide which shoe you like for your Left foot and which you like for your right foot. Mark them inside so that you keep them to the same feet each time you wear them.
DARNING the tips will slightly increase the life of the shoe and add more grip. Alternatively suede toe caps can be applied with glue. Large curved darning needles are best and darning thread/stranded cotton same colour as the shoes.
Method: Slightly soil the satin by wearing the shoe and rotating the tip to indicate where it comes into contact with the floor most.
Start as near as possible to the leather sole, stitch a series of bars of stranded thread to and fro across the pleats until they reach as far across as where the soiling indicates.
Ensure pick up of enough satin with the needle. The first line should pick up the satin with every stitch. Now
start near the sole, blanket stitch over each bar, linking the rows by pushing the needle through the loops of the row below and continue back and forth until all rows are covered.
Satin may be darned at the sides of the foot where big and little toes joints may cause faster wear, but not essential.
SEE DIAGRAM 1 & 2 BELOW
SEWING ON RIBBONS
Cut the ribbon into four equal length pieces.
You will need two lengths for each shoe.
If using Elastorib, Flexers or other ribbons with integrated elastic for the achilles tendon area, measure lengths with extra care, to ensure the correct position of the elastic area over the achilles tendon before cutting the ribbon.
Fold down the satin upper at the heel end until it rests flat against the sock lining (insole).
Place the ribbon at the fold’s edge or inside the crease and mark it with a pencil on both sides of the ribbon on the inside of the shoe to mark its position.
Sew the ribbon to the inside lining making sure that the ribbon has sufficient depth down into the sides of the shoe and also sew across the inside of the binding, taking care not to stitch the elastic/string drawstring. The stitching should not be visible through the satin on the outside of the shoe.
Personal preferences will decide if the ribbon is to be sewn at a right angle to the binding or more angled.
Repeat for other shoe.
SEE DIAGRAM 3 & 4
5 – 7. TYING RIBBONS
To tie, the shoe should be with the foot flat on the floor, perhaps in a kneeling position. Do not tie the shoes with the foot en-pointe or with the leg straight as this allows no flexibility of the ankle and could prevent full movement when doing demi-plies.
Bring one ribbon forward, cross it over the instep and wind it flat and snug around the ankle. Hold it firmly.
Take the second ribbon forwards, crossing it over the other flat and right around the ankle and make a small double knot it in the hollow between the ankle bone and the achilles tendon, on the inside of the ankle. The ends of the ribbon can then be pushed down behind the fastened ribbon in the small hollow, so that no ends are visible.
A BIT ABOUT HEEL ELASTIC
Modern day pointe shoes come in all sorts of different designs and fullness of material in the heel curve. Some are deliberately cut low profile so that there is less bunching of the material at the heel and a cleaner aesthetic line. Some more traditional cut heels can be deeper and so they sit higher up the back of the dancers heel. That said, every dancers' heel shape, depth and curve is also different, so inevitably some dancers feel that the back of the shoe may slip off the heel whilst dancing. The purpose of any heel elastic is really to help keep the heel of the shoe pulled up, not necessarily to keep the actual shoe on! There are any number of ways of sewing additional elastic into the shoes. The most common method is to use a lightweight mesh invisible elastic that can be sewn in a loop either side of the back-seam in the heel (See Photo) The foot is then passed through the loop of elastic ahead of sliding the foot down into the shoe and the elastic should be barely visible.
If a stronger, firmer pull is required or elastic needed for other purposes to keep the shoe firmly in place, a soft smooth woven thicker elastic is used.
BREAKING THE SHOES IN
Always try to work the new shoe in before wearing for practice class or even more so if being used for a stage performance or examinations.
Soften the block slightly by moulding them in the warm palm of your hands.
Most traditionally constructed pointe shoes use biodegradeable paste in the toe box and the heat from the hands is sometimes sufficient to start to soften the shoe. This process will continue with the heat from the feet when worn and your aim is to get the shoe moulding to you foot.
This technique using the hands is great to soften the pasted side wings of the toe box if they cause a little pressure on the side of the foot or little toe !
Start to ease the insole slighlty at the demi-pointe area, where the ball of your foot would be, by pressing with both thumbs inside the sole of the shoe against the floor. Do not work or bend higher up in the shank (mid-sole) as this is where you need the shoe to give you most support and you will shorten the life of your shoes.
You can encourage the shoe to arch a little to hug the sole of your foot, in particular just below the pad of your heel, where the heel ends and before the arch of your foot begins - just at the 3/4 point on the shank. This way, the sole will conform to the shape of your foot better when en-pointe, but still remain strong in the centre of the shank.
Once your ribbons and elastics are in place to keep the shoe secure to your foot, wear the shoes at home, walking around in them, try rising to quarter, demi and three-quarter pointe and occasionally rise through the whole foot onto full pointe on one foot and then the other foot.
IF YOU ARE NEW TO POINTE WORK, WAIT FOR YOUR TEACHER TO SUPERVISE YOU THROUGH YOUR MOVEMENTS.
INCORRECT AND POOR MOVEMENT PATTERNS WILL BE LEARNT AND RETAINED BY YOUR MUSCLE MEMORY, THIS COULD SLOW YOUR PROGRESS, AFFECT YOUR TECHNIQUE AND COULD CAUSE YOU INJURY.