Home > Recreational & Competitive Dance Blog > The Short Life of a Pointe Shoe: What You Didn’t Know about Ballet Slippers

BalletFor a ballet dancer, buying your first pair of pointe shoes is a momentous occasion.  You are so excited to begin dancing en pointe, just like the ballerinas do in the professional companies, and you feel like you are joining the ranks of serious dancers.

Little did you know that before you can perform a single pirouette in your new ballet slippers, you are going to have to mess up their prettiness just a bit.  After purchasing pointe shoes, ballet dancers must work on them to add some wear and tear to make them easier to dance in.  What you choose to do to your pointe shoes to get them ready for their debut may vary and depends on what works for your feet and your preference as a ballet dancer.  Just to get an idea of what a pointe shoe may go through, here are some things dancers do to break in their beautiful slippers:

  • Bend the shank to make it more pliable and easier to get up on the box.
  • Soften the box by whacking it against the floor or massaging it with your hands.
  • Cut the fabric off the platform and burn the edges to prevent fraying
  • Hand-sew the elastic and ribbons on each shoe to fit your feet.
  • Apply shellac to make the shoes harder and last longer.

After all this, it’s crazy to think that the average cost of pointe shoes is about $80.  But it’s worth it . . . so keep on dancing!