Preparing toes for pointe work is always a good idea. I’ll never forget my first bloodstained toe pad!!! There’s no doubt that the difference between a pointe shoe and a soft ballet flat is massive, which is exactly why preparing your toes properly is so important.
As suggested in Top Tip #7, an initial visit to the podiatrist is definitely a good idea to prepare toes for pointe work, it is not essential, but may prove beneficial. If the build up to pointe work is gradual, your toes will naturally toughen as your feet and ankles strengthen.
If the build up to pointe work involves wearing demi-pointe shoes, you are in good stead. I don’t mean just wearing demi pointe shoes for an exam, but for your preparatory classes, as a means to strengthen your feet and ankles, as they provide more resistance. Demi-pointe shoes (also known as soft block shoes or pre pointe shoes) are meant to act as a transitional shoe from ballet flats to pointe shoes. In essence, your feet have to work much harder in a pair of demi-pointe shoes and even harder in a pair of pointe shoes. So, it is wise to take advantage of that intermediate step.
From their outside appearance, they seem similar to a regular pointe shoe, however the box is much softer and is not designed to bear weight. They also have slightly smaller, softer wings with a smaller platform. The most important difference is that the demi pointe shoe has a leather outsole, a thinner inner sole, but no shank
However, it is very importat that the dancer is using the front of the foot properly as it is easier to hide clawing toes in demi-pointe shoes. Clawing toes will naturally defeat the purpose of using a stronger soled shoe, as you could be strengthening incorrect muscles. Ensure you are articulating through the ball of the foot with every tendu, and especially when you draw the foot up to retiré.
The ‘My Beginner Pointe’ program is designed specifically to transition young dancers onto pointe and accelerate your readiness. The program should be done initially in ballet flats, and then in demi-pointe shoes, allowing the dancer to strengthen the muscles needed to stabilise the foot on a slightly unstable surface. By working in your demi pointe shoes you may learn where your individual points of friction are, then you can be prepared to experiment with various forms of padding en pointe, or different pointe shoe styles until you find what is most suitable for you.
This ‘My Beginner Pointe’ program includes 3 dvd’s packed with information to aid you and your teacher, to supplement and enhance your knowledge. The three tiered ‘My Beginner Pointe’ program will ensure you set up correct pointe technique from the outset and continue to constantly challenge you!
Written by; Vicki Attard