Pointe Shoe Accessories
By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.
When you walk out the store with your brand new pair of pointe shoes, there are a few things that you will also want in your shopping bag. New pointe shoes are beautiful, we all agree, but don’t get carried away with their silky, pink prettiness and forget to stock up on some pointe essentials. You need to be able to keep your shoes on securely, protect your feet from blisters and bunions, and pad your toes. Here are a few must have accessories:
Make sure to pick up some ribbons for your pointe 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. 7/8” wide is an ideal width. Capezio stocks Bunheads ballet ribbon, perfect for pointe shoes in either a 100 yard roll or a six pack cut to 2 1/2 yard lengths. You can purchase either rehearsal ribbon or performance ribbon, with performance ribbon made of double-faced matte satin.
Some dancers also prefer Rehearsal Flexers® and Performance Flexers® by Bunheads. These ribbons include sections of elastic, designed to alleviate pressure on the Achilles tendon and stretch with the movement of the ankle. Recommend by physical therapists, Flexers® ribbons enable dancers to rise from plié to pointe with minimal constriction and no bagginess.
Some dancers like to use elastics to accompany their ribbons. Elastics can provide extra support and help keep the heels of the pointe shoes on. Capezio sells a handy ribbon and elastic pack that includes 7/8" wide, single-faced satin ribbon and elastic cut to the length needed for a pair of pointe shoes. Rolls of Bolt Elastic and Stretching the Pointe™ mesh elastic are also available.
For tips on sewing ribbons and elastics click here: http://dancenews.capezio.com/dance-news/the-ins-and-outs-of-pointe-shoes
To help you get your ribbons and elastics sewn on, Capezio also stocks the popular Bunheads Stitch Kit™ which includes 75 yards of super-strong, bonded nylon thread and two large-eye needles for easy threading, which is perfect for pointe shoes or ballet slippers. The kit even includes detailed sewing instructions. 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. While every foot and every need is different, padding should be kept to a minimum so you can still feel your feet in the shoes. 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 Fluffs™ 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.
The Pro Pad® is a good choice for a dancer who prefers minimal padding or for wide feet. Its design includes cushioning for the tops and the tips of the toes with no gel under the foot, and only thin fabric under the toes.
Toe Tape or Band-Aids
As we all know too well, dancing en pointe can cause nasty, painful blisters. 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 of them. Tape can be a better solution.
Capezio sells a great range of bunion prevention products. The Bunion Buster® is an elastic fabric tube with inner gel coating that alleviates friction and relieves pressure on the big toe joint. The smaller Jelly Toes® protects the small toe and bunionette area on the side of the foot. Spacers™ and bunion cushions can also be helpful for some dancers.
You don’t want the ends of your ribbons to pop out from under the knot as you dance, becoming unsightly. Knot Keepers™ can help keep your ribbons under control. They are adhesive strips specially designed for pointe shoes to help keep ribbons securely tucked in place, providing a clean, professional look for the stage.
If your pointe shoes have gotten a little too soft and you need to extend the life of your shoes, Jet™ Glue can provide a good solution. As the box wears in a bit you can save your shoes for a performance or even a few weeks, depending on how many hours you intend to dance in them, with some Jet™ Glue. Just apply a thin layer of Jet™ Glue to the inside of the toe box and/or shank of your shoes. The glue sets fast, in usually in 10-20 seconds.
Other items such as a Footsie Roller and Exercise Band can also be helpful. The Footsie Roller is a specially designed foot massager to relieve tension under the arches, providing much needed relief after class.
Exercise Bands can not only help you with general strength and flexibility, but can also be specifically used to strengthen the foot for pointe. For some pointe preparation exercises click here: http://dancenews.capezio.com/dance-news/how-to-prepare-your-feet-for-pointe.