Pointe shoes are an investment, if you take really good care of them, you will reap the dividends and enjoy money well spent.

1. Having a few pairs of pointe shoes to rotate is a good way of making pointe shoes last, but possibly not practical for a student, depending on individual circumstance. Rotation of more than one pair of pointe shoes allows for the individual shoes to completely dry out in between wears.

2. If you can only manage to have a single pair of pointe shoes, ensure you remove the padding whether it be ouch pouches or lambs wool etc. to dry out. This is also a very good idea to keep your padding hygienic and clean, particularly if you have broken skin.

3. Hanging your pointe shoes from the ribbons will enable air to flow freely from the inside of the box, resulting in completely dry shoes. Throughout the course of class or rehearsal, the box absorbs a lot of moisture from the feet and if this moisture is allowed to remain in the shoe, it will prematurely soften the paste. If you can’t hang them to dry, the next best thing would be to store them in a mesh pointe shoe bag, but never a plastic bag, as this will trap the air.

4. Although I have not tried it, I have heard the recommendation of stuffing the box (top of the shoe that encases the toes) with tissue or absorbent paper after wearing, to draw the moisture whilst retaining the shape of the box.

5. Products like jet glue or shellac can be bought from reputable ballet stores, and can be thinly applied to the inside of the box, platform and areas of the shank that are particularly stressed. This will prolong the life of the shoes a little, even more so if you rotate. Sometimes jet glue can be applied to brand new shoes if preferred.

6. If you are a serious student, you may want to separate your class shoes from your performance shoes. When you are nervous, your extremities are harder to feel, making it less important to have a hard shank, and allowing you to showcase your feet for those precious minutes onstage.

So, as you can see there are a few things that can be done to make pointe shoes last longer, however it stands to reason that a product made of cardboard, canvas, glue and paper mache is naturally going to break down when almost the entire body weight is bearing down on them for hours on end!

Written by; Vicki Attard

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