Transition to pointe shoes is a special milestone in teaching the art of ballet. There are important nuances both at the stage of selecting the first pair and when preparing shoes for work. Let's talk about what the first pointe shoes should be like and when they can be tried on.
When can a girl go en pointe?
Young ballerinas in pointe shoes are adorable and delightful at the same time. However, classical dance professionals warn that little girls should not rush to try on shoes for dancers. In the Royal Academy of Dance, London, they believe that optimal age to start pointe work is 11 years old. Until that age, bones of the foot are still being hardened, and it is simply unsafe to transfer the body’s weight on them.
According to the British, it is even better to wait until 12-13 years of age. It is crucial that the transition to pointe shoes does not cause physical harm to the child's unformed musculoskeletal system. Psychological readiness for a new stage of training is also important. That is why, according to teachers from the Royal Academy, you should first study the basics of ballet art for at least four years and only then go en pointe.
The final decision on whether a young dancer is ready to move to a new level shall be made by her teacher. If a girl attends regular classes (3-5 hours a week) for 2-3 years and shows good results, then her teacher may conclude that she is ready for pointe shoes.
How to choose your first pointe shoes?
This is a demanding challenge because the first professional ballet shoes must combine comfort and aesthetics.
Opt for trusted manufacturers, but it is even better to ask your ballet teacher directly what kind of shoes they recommend. Parents, whose children practice ballet, named the following brands: R-class, Grishko, Sansha, Bloch, Chacott.
We asked the Bolshoi Theater choreographer Maria Allash to share her professional experience in the selection of ballet shoes,
How to prepare pointe shoes for the first lesson?
Alright, the pointe shoes have been chosen and the young ballerina is ready for a new stage in her studies. It is important to prepare shoes for the first lesson:
● Break them in
It's like with a new pair of shoes: just put on pointe shoes and walk a little in them. No need to stand on tiptoes! This way, pointe shoes will begin to take the shape of the foot. To keep the original appearance of the shoes, you can put socks on top of them.
● Determine right and left
Swap the pointe shoes a couple of times to understand which way is more comfortable for your feet. When you’ve decided which one is right and which is left, sign them and don’t change again.
● Sew on ribbons
Everything in the pointe shoes should be beautiful and graceful from the very beginning.
In the past, they used to hammer pointe shoes to soften the glue a bit. Now, manufacturers make softer models but they still need a "massage" before using. Make the layer of cardboard in the front part (the so-called box) a little more pliable, this way it won't wrinkle and the young ballerina will avoid blisters. Crumple slightly the outer leather sole along the entire length and bend the shank.
As for the heel, it is better to consult with your teacher: you can either crumple this part of the sole or cut off the hard part of the insole completely. The softness effect will vary.
However, before you do something to a pair of freshly bought pointe shoes, it is better to consult with a ballet teacher. Correct treatment of shoes guarantees a long life to the chosen pair and comfort to their owner.