What are Soft Blocks?
Also known as demi pointe shoes, deshanks or pre-pointe shoes, soft blocks are basically pointe shoes without a shank. Recommended by many teachers as training tools to assist dancers as they transition from ballet slippers to pointe shoes. The difference in the sole and shape of a point shoe will change a dancer’s centre of balance and traction on the floor. When making your soft blocks, it is easier to use an old pair of pointe shoes.
You will need: pair of old pointe shoes, a hammer, possibly a pair of pliers, a rag, cloth or towel and white-glue
Step 1: Remove Sock Liner
The first step to making your old pointe shoes into soft blocks is to remove the inner liner. The cloth sock is glued to the insole of the shoe, and with a strong tug should be easy to remove. Once you’ve pulled them out, be sure to set them aside as you’ll want to put them back in at the end!
Step 2: Remove Insole
Next, remove the insole (sometimes referred to as the shank). Be careful, there will be one or two small tacks or staples holding the insole in place. Depending on what style of shoe you wear, the tacks will be at the end of the heel, in the middle of the shank and/or closer to the toe. For this step, you may need the back of a hammer or a pair of pliers to remove the tacks.
Step 3: Hammer Blocking
After discarding the insole, shake any glue that has come out into the garbage. Next, cover your pointe shoe with a cloth, towel, or plastic bag to protect it from any scuff marks or dirt. Hammer the block of the shoe until it feels soft, and is easily manipulated, but you do not want the shoe to lose its shape completely - for most exams, soft blocks must still look like a pointe shoe so leave the platform in place. After you have hammered the block leave the lining open and empty the loose glue into a garbage can, removing any excess hard pieces with your hands.
Step 4: Replace Sock Liner and Voila!
Now that you’ve softened the block to your preferred feeling, put the sock liner back inside the shoe. Try the shoes and get moving! See if there are any adjustments that need to be made. Once you’re happy with the shoe use some white glue to replace the sock liners permanently. Let them dry and you’re ready to go!
These methods will only work on traditional paste pointe shoes.
The Shoe Room can only accept returns on pointe shoes that are in "mint" condition. Checkout our returns page for more on what we can and cannot accept.