How to Tell if Your Pointe Shoes Are Dead

It’s important to know when your pointe shoes are dead and in need of replacing to avoid injury. This is more important when you are just starting out on pointe as your pointe shoes will probably last longer when you start out. Once you start using your shoes more you will get through a lot more pairs and will know when your pointe shoes are getting close to being dead.

dead pointe shoes

Here are a few of the tell tail signs of when your pointe shoes have no more dance left in them:

  • If you are starting to feel the floor through your shoes when you’re on pointe it is definitely time to get a new pairdead shoes
  • The box begins to feel soft and not very supportive
  • The shank is no longer supportive or does not feel as supportive as it used to

There are other things to look out for that could mean your shoes are ready for renewal as well such as:

  • Feeling pain in areas you do not normally feel pain in
  • Being unable to push over the box correctly
  • Unable to stay on pointe when balancing or turning

Remember, these are not the only signs to look out for. If your box or shank becomes damaged or cracked in anyway you should look into getting a new pair. Also, don’t rely on the shank to tell you when your shoes are dead. The box is just as important in supporting your foot. Both the shank and the box should be giving you support and if one isn’t it’s time for some new pointe shoes.

Have a look at my other post to see what you can do to look after your shoes and extend their life for as long as possible.

 

Taking Care of Your Pointe Shoes

Pointe shoes aren’t really known for their long life span, so it’s best to try and look after your shoes to make them last a long as possible. I’ve put together a short list of things you can do to help look after your pointe shoes.

caring for your pointe shoe

  • Firstly, always make sure shoes are broken in correctly and carefully and after the first time you wear your shoes mark them left and right.
  • After every class or anytime you wear your shoes, always take out the padding and hang them up to let them dry. DO NOT leave them in your dance bag.
  • If you use your pointe shoes for several classes during a week buy two or more pairs to wear. Pointe shoes should be taken off and allowed to dry after 45-60 minutes of training. Always allow pointe shoes at least 24 hours to dry before wearing them again.
  • Mesh pointe shoe bags can be useful if you are needing to carry your pointe shoes around from class to class
  • Shellacs and glues can be brought to help re-harden your shoes to make them last longer. Dance stores and pointe shoe fitters will be able to guide you on what product would be best for you
  • Suede tips can be glued to the tips of the shoes. Not only will this give you more grip but will stop the tips of the shoes wearing out

How to Break in Your Pointe Shoes

When You Get Your Shoes

It’s soooo important each time you get fitted for a new pair of pointe shoes you will need to break them in. But before you break them in or sew your ribbons on, make sure you’re dance teacher is happy with your shoes. If your teacher has a fitter they recommend this may not be necessary but it is best to ask first.

Pointe Shoes

How to Break in Your Pointe Shoes

There are several ways to break in pointe shoes, some people just keep working them with their feet and hands, while some people bang them on the floor and shut them in doors to break them in. However, many pointe shoe makers advise against hammering shoes and shutting them in doors as this can damage the shoe.

Softening the Shank

  • Place any padding on your foot before putting the shoe on
  • Fold the back of your shoe down and place the shoe on your foot, keeping the back folded downFold back heel
  • Mark with your fingers where your heel ends, keeping your fingers in place remove the shoeWhere the heel ends
  • Carefully massage and push the shoe from where your fingers are. You may hear some cracking noises but this is normalBreak in pointe shoe
  • Keep gently pushing and massaging the shoe until it loosens

(apologies for the terrible nail varnish, forgot to take it off)

 

Breaking in Pointe Shoes at the Barre

This exercise really helps work your feet in your pointe shoes which will help break them in. It’s also a brilliant warm up exercise before pointe work.

  • Start facing the barre with your feet in parallel
  • Rise up onto demi pointe, trying and rise up as high as you can before you start to go up onto pointe
  • Rise up onto pointe
  • Bend both knees pushing right up and over the box
  • Stretch your knees and recover back to pointe
  • lower your feet making sure you go through the demi pointe position
  • repeat this several times before repeating in 1st position

Eventually the demi pointe position will become easier to go through as the shoe becomes broken in.

 

 

 

The Art of Auditioning

Dance-Audition-
Many dancers of all ages will more than likely experience an audition at some point. Even if you don’t dance with the intention  of becoming a professional and just do it as a hobby. Going to as many auditions as possible is very important, even if you aren’t focusing on a professional career. If you get the job you’ve auditioned for it’s an incredible opportunity and will be a lot of fun. If you don’t get it then it will give you the experience you need to improve for your next audition. Experiencing dance auditions can also help you when you come to do an interview for other jobs. Just talking to someone will seem like a piece of cake when you have performed a routine you have only just learnt in front of a group of strangers.

audition

 

I’m going to give you 10 tips on how to: prepare for and perform at an audition.

 

 

1. Breakfast – It doesn’t matter how nervous you are feeling, make sure you have breakfast. Even if it’s the last thing on your mind. Also, make sure you have it early enough, if your audition is in the morning you don’t want to be dancing on a full stomach.

2. Appearance – Just as you are expected to dress smart to an interview, you are expected to be dressed appropriately for an audition. This means more than just making sure you’re in your dance clothes. Your hair should be neat and off your face, males should be well groomed and females should keep make up to a minimum, you want to enhance your features but not look like you’ve painteauditionsd your make-up on. Finally, try and make sure your dance wear shows off your physic. If you are wearing a leotard for example, thin straps often look better than thick straps and bright colours will make you stand out, helping you stay in the judges memory.

3. Stay Focused – Combinations will be taught quickly so it’s important to focus on what you are being told so you can pick it up. Watch/listen carefully to what the choreographer wants including the style and copy it.

4. Think Dance Etiquette – Think about how you’re expected to act in a class, this will show respect to both the other people auditioning and the judges. Just to jog your memory on what not to do here is a short list: don’t sit down unless you are told to, don’t talk, don’t lean on the barre or the walls, make sure your phone is turned off and clap for the other performers when they are finished dancing.

5. Do Not Copy! – Remember to think for yourself, you don’t want to be copying the person in front of you. If you end up copying the person in front, when you perform in smaller groups this will become obvious. Ignore the other candidates and pretend they aren’t there, this will help you pick up the combination and focus on your own technique.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up – If you are unsure on a step because to cannot hear the choreographer or cannot see what is being shown to you ask if you can move. They would rather you ask questions than copy off someone else. You will often find you aren’t the only one asking questions, and listening to other questions being asked may help you.

7. Be Confident – Always have a smile on your face and try your best. Even if your performance isn’t spot on the panel will appreciate that you are putting the effort in. Which can be more beneficial than having perfect technique while looking miserable. If you look confident in what you do, the audience will think you are performing well.

8. Be Considerate – When other groups are performing be aware of where you are standing. Always stand at the side, out of the way of the performance space. Also it is very important to stay warmaudition-2 and mark through the steps, however do not distract the other group by dancing full out at the side, not only will this wear you out but will also distract everyone else in the room. And never ever ever talk during other performances!

9. At the End of Your Dance – At the end of your performance, remain on your spot until one of the judges says thank you. Remember to control your breathing as well, you will be out of breath and want to collapse on the floor but instead, walk or run off calmly and beautifully.

10. Reflect – No matter how well the audition went, whether you got through or not, always reflect back on the audition. This will help you understand what went well and what didn’t go so well meaning you won’t make the same mistakes again, which will help you improve your performance.

Taking All Corrections as Your Own

Just a short post for this evening. I wanted to do a short post on how to be more productive in your dance classes. In most of your classes i’m sure the teacher takes time to assist each student when they need it. But what do you do in this time? Many teachers, like myself, encourage the class to keep practicing the move rather than just standing there, not doing anything.

However, not matter how big or small the correction given to the other students is, always take it on board. Think of their correction as your own, this will help you correct your own mistakes you may even be unaware of. Observing how another student is correcting their own mistakes can help you visualise how to improve your performance. Throughout your classes always think about how you can improve your own performance and use those around you to help you do this.

I know this post was only short but i believe this to be valuable advice to help you improve your performance. While also helping you begin to think for yourself and not just relying on the teacher’s individual corrections.

Dancers and Body Image

Many people often think that in order for dancers to get their beautiful thin bodies they need to starve themselves. I want to make this clear that this is definitely not the case. Yes, some dancers may feel this way and there are cases where dancers have developed eating disorders, but this is not the case for every dancer. Just like some non-dancers will have eating disorders, the majority will not. Dancers can be more likely to develop  eating disorders due to the demand on a certain body type from the industry. However it is important to understand that as long as you train hard and eat well there is no reason why this cannot be achieved.healthy eating

Eating to get the energy you need to dance

Dancers will need a lot more calories than the recommend daily amount because of how many calories they burn. The amount needed for you personally will vary on how many classes you do a week and the intensity of them. It is difficult to say exactly how many calories an individual will need, but if you want to find out more visit your GP or a dietician as they will be able to guide you on this. But it is certain that if you are doing any form of exercise, you will need more calories, even if you are eating healthy.  If you imagine your body as being a car, if you don’t put enough fuel in you aren’t going to go very far, and the same can be said about the human body. In order to perform at the highest level possible and keep improving you need to make sure your body has enough energy.

Why does your body need this?

If you don’t consume enough calories not only will you feel tired but you could injure yourself. Your body will not have the strength to cope with the strain dance can put on it. This can result in fractures and sprains because the body is weak.

How to make sure you have enough energy

meal ideasYour main source of energy will come from carbohydrates. So it is best to try and eat foods like pasta and rice rather than binging out on sugary sweets and chocolate (although there is nothing wrong with this once in a while).  However sometimes it can be difficult to fit meals in between classes so you may not eat until 10pm or 11pm. In between classes you will need to eat something. Good things to take to classes include: protein shakes, nuts/seeds, a small sandwich or even a tub of pasta you can snack on in between classes. If you have longer breaks in between your classes you may want to take something more substantial with you, if your dance studio has a microwave for staff to use, you may want to ask if you can use this and take a meal with you. Your dance teacher will be able to give you more information on what you can do to keep your energy levels up in between classes.

 

Are Demi Pointe Shoes Necessary

Many People ask whether demi pointe shoes are really necessary when preparing the feet for pointe work. There is no one straight answer for this question so i will go over both sides of the argument to help you decide what you think.

demi pointe shoes demi pointe

Arguments for demi pointe shoes

Demi Pointe shoes have much more resistance than a normal flat ballet shoe. This means your feet have to work harder, helping you gain the strength you need to do pointe work. They also help you understand how to fully stretch your feet when you eventually move onto full shank pointe shoe.

Arguments against demi pointe shoes  One of the biggest reasons demi pointe shoes are not often used with younger students is the bad habits they can lead to, the biggest being clawing of the toes. You must be fully aware of what foot muscles you should be using to stretch your foot with the added resistance before using demi pointe shoes. If you don’t you may end up using the wrong muscles to stretch your feet which can lead to several issues which can damage your feet. However if you are aware of how to articulate your feet correctly demi point shoes can help you build the strength you need in your feet.

Personal Preference Personally, i do not use demi pointe shoes as i believe the same strength can be built up without them while also making students more aware of their feet. There are several different foot exercises. such as cherry picking, that can be done which will also allow you to look at how your feet are moving, ensuring positions are being held correctly, there is a video below showing you how to do this exercise. However, if your dance teacher wants you to use demi pointe shoes there is no reason why you shouldn’t. If you are unsure on how you should be using your foot in the shoes just ask your teacher and they will explain. But remember, there is no reason why you can’t do foot strengthening exercises as well.

Feet strengthening  – Cherry Picking

  • Lie on your back with on foot in the air
  • Stretch your feet, pushing your feet forward with resistance, until it’s fully stretched and you have ‘picked the cherry off the tree’
  • Then flex your foot back keeping your toes trying to point downwards, ‘holding onto the cherry’
  • once your foot is fully flexed flex the toes back and ‘drop the cherry into your mouth
  • repeat this several times on the same foot and then do the same number on the other foot