It’s a new school year, with so many new and exciting things to learn! Will you be starting pointe this year?
When you skip out of the store with your brand new, shiny pair of pointe shoes, there are a few things that you will also want in your shopping bag. New pointe shoes are beautiful, but don’t get carried away with their silky, pink prettiness and forget to stock up on some pointe essentials so you’re ready for your first class. Here are a few must-have accessories.
Make sure to pick up some ribbons for your pointe shoes. Ribbons not only look beautiful and ballerina-like, but they are also crucial because they support your ankles in the shoes. Single-faced satin is a good choice, as the ribbons look pretty to the eye on the outside of the ankle, but are less silky on the inside so they grip better to your tights. Make sure to buy pointe ribbon from a dance supplier so that it’s the correct thickness. You don’t want the ribbon to be too thin. You can purchase either rehearsal ribbon or performance ribbon, with performance ribbon made of double-faced matte satin.
Most dancers like to use elastic to accompany their ribbons. Elastic provides extra support and helps keep the heels of the pointe shoes on. Your local dancerwear store sells elastic in ballet pink at the correct width, so make sure to ask for them. You don’t want the elastic to be too thin, as it will cut off circulation and be very uncomfortable.
To help you get your ribbons and elastic sewn on, the popular Bunheads Stitch Kit™ includes super-strong thread and two large-eye needles for easy threading, which is perfect for pointe shoes or ballet flats. The kit also includes detailed sewing instructions, which can be a great help when sewing those first few pairs of pointe shoes. It is a must-have in any ballet bag, and particularly handy for a quick ribbon or even costume fix.
Although some dancers don’t wear any padding in their shoes, most do, and beginners will most likely want something to cushion their toes, particularly as they get used to pointe. While every foot and every need is different, padding should be kept to a minimum so you can still feel your foot in the shoe. Many pointe-fitting specialists recommend lamb’s wool for padding, as it adequately protects toe joints, is breathable and can be washed and re-used. You can also get Lamb’s Wool Toe Pads, which combine the benefits of lamb’s wool in the formation of an actual toe pad.
Popular gel pads like the Ouch Pouch® are widely used. These pouches contain a thin layer of gel material inside two pieces of fabric to create a comfortable pouch that covers the ball of the foot, as well as the toes and bunion areas, providing cushioning and protection from friction.
#4. Toe tape or Band-Aids
Dancing en pointe is ethereal, but we all know that it can cause nasty, painful blisters. You can protect your toes with toe tape. It reduces friction and prevents the chafing that causes blisters. Some dancers use Band-Aids to help with this, but these can easily come off, and you will find yourself going through boxes and boxes of them. Tape can be a better – and cheaper overall – solution.
#5. Bunion prevention/protection
Dancewear stores sell a range of bunion prevention products that can relieve pressure on the big toe joint or protect the small toe and bunionette area on the side of the foot, if you find that you need them after several lessons. Toe spacers are also available. Discuss the need for them and how best to use them with your pointe teacher before purchasing.
#6. Pointe shoe bag
Make sure to purchase, or even design and sew, your own pointe shoe bag to keep your shoes and accessories cleaner and more organised in your dance bag. Make sure to let your shoes breathe, though, to ensure no mildew or bacteria build up. Take them out of the bag when you get home, or between lesson breaks, and let them dry out before storing them in your bag until your next class or performance.
By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.