¾ Cutting a Pointe Shoe
Does anyone ¾ cut their shoes? Below, our Lead Pointe Shoe Fitter, Krista, explains what it is, why it’s done and more!
What: ¾ cutting a shoe is the process of thinning or cutting the last quarter of the insole or shank of a pointe shoe
Why: This process can help to mold the shank closer to the foot shape, help a dancer get over the block or direct stress onto a different spot on the shank
Tips: When ¾ cutting a shoe, there are a few things that a dancer needs to remember
- BE CAREFUL of yourself and your shoe! Using a knife to cut bank the shank should only be done with the help of an adult to avoid injury and to make sure you don’t cut through the satin layer of the pointe shoe.
- Since each foot is different, it’s a good idea to mark each shoe to see where it needs to be cut. Gradually cut layers of the shank to create a smooth edge that will fit under your foot. No one wants a sharp piece of shank digging into their foot while they’re doing fouettés
- There are different ways to finish ¾ cutting, most dancers will re-nail the shank in place and glue the lining back down.
- FREEZE!!! Not all pointe shoes can be altered this way!! The outer sole and shank of some shoes have been sewn together which would result in your pointe unraveling if its ¾ cut. If you’re thinking about ¾ cutting, ask your teacher or one of our fitters to make sure your shoe can be altered this way!
Pointe Shoe Myths
What do pointe shoes and unicorns have in common? They are both surrounded by myths! Here, our Lead Pointe Shoe Fitter, Krista, has rounded up some common misconceptions about pointe shoes.
- Steel Shanks: This is not a thing. The shanks of a pointe shoe are typically made out of leather, card stock or plastic. The only metal in your pointe shoes are the nails used in some styles to attach the shank to the outer sole at the heel of the shoe and they are tiny!
- Wood: There is no wood in pointe shoes, and contrary to popular belief, there never has been. Pointe shoes are made with layers of material and paste or glue, or depending on the brand, plastic.
- Strong Shoes for Strong Feet: While this can be true, it can also be false. Many professional dancers, with very strong feet, love a softer shoe. Some dancers want a harder shoe to be a work horse for them while they are training and to save the budget. A strong dancer should be able to stand en pointe while barefoot, (we’re not saying they should dance the role of Aurora sans pointe shoes, but a relevé or 12 shouldn’t hurt) If you are relying on your pointe shoe to do the work for you, ask your teacher to recommend some exercises to help make your feet become stronger.
- A Shoe for Every Foot: It’s obvious that not every person can wear the same pants, and pointe shoes are just the same! Every foot is different, with their own shape and size (there is no wrong size!!!), and expecting the same style of pointe shoe to work for every foot is not just unreasonable, but can also be unhealthy.
- Girls Only: While it is more common to see females on pointe, pointe is for guys too!! Some guys are en pointe to build strength, some to become better pointe teachers, others to perform. There are some roles in Classical Ballet that have men en pointe - The Stepsisters in some versions of Cinderella, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Baroness in James Kudelka’s An Italian Straw Hat, and there is always the delightful Ballet Trockadero De Monte Carlo.
When You Need New Pointe Shoes
Signs that you need a new pair of pointe shoes
- You may have out grown your pointe shoes if:
- The heels are popping off
- The shoe is starting to hook, making you look sickled
- Your toes are crunching
- The shoes are very hard to put on your feet
- You may have killed your shoes if:
- The box feels mushy
- If you feel your toes pushing in to the floor more than normal
- The shank is too soft, you may not feel supported and could be knuckling or crunching
- Water has spilled on them
- Jet glue is no longer helping
- Your dog has chewed them
Ribbons and Elastics
Wondering why pointe shoes don’t come with ribbon and elastic attached? Our Lead Pointe Shoe Fitter Krista does a deep dive on the different options of ribbon and elastic as well as why the placement of your “shoelaces” is a personal choice!
The Choices: Ribbon
- Satin: This classic ribbon is smooth, with a light sheen. It is good for giving a little more pull when tying, making it ideal for dancers that need a little more support, or those that like a snug tie around their ankles.
- Stretch: Stretchy ribbons are more matte in appearance when compared to satin. This style is great for a dancer who has a sensitive Achilles tendon or those that need less resistance from their ribbons to get over the block of the shoe. Be careful not to tie stretch ribbon too tight, as the elastic nature of the ribbon can cut off circulation to your foot.
- TLC Ribbon: Gaynor Minden’s TLC Ribbon is a hybrid of both classic satin ribbon and stretch elastic. The elastic section is sewn into the ribbon and intended to lie across your Achilles tendon. The idea is to give the support of the satin with the comfort, protection and malleability of elastic.
- The main role of elastics is to help keep the shoe from falling off of the dancers heel or help pull the shoes more firmly onto the foot. While there are many ways to sew on elastics, there are two that seem to be the most common. The first is looping the elastic around the heel, with the second way is crossing it like the elastics on a ballet slipper.
The Choices: Elastic
- Thick Elastic: Thicker elastic is ideal for shoes that pop off the heel or twist.
- Mesh Elastic: Mesh elastic is the gentler of the two. It allows for a milder form of support and less resistance than the thicker elastic.
- Elastic also come in a variety of colours and widths, ranging from black and white to 1” or smaller.
- While most dancers wear ribbon, some may not use elastic at all