Post by Callie Manning, Soloist
Pointe shoes to a dancer are like paint brushes to an artist. They are the key instruments we use to create our art. Our shoes are hand made and custom ordered specifically to our liking. Most of the Miami City Ballet dancers wear a brand of shoes called Freed, which are made in London. Each cobbler, or “maker,” makes their shoe slightly different and there are over 20 to choose from. Then there are different lengths, widths and degrees of hardness. The shape of the shoe can even further be adjusted down to 1/8 of an inch! Once you find the right maker and adjust the shoes to be made just right, they are not nearly ready to wear upon arrival.
Every dancer prepares their shoes differently. It can take years of trial and error to find what works best for you. Some of my tricks include: using super glue to make my pointe shoes EXTRA hard and last longer; stitching around the tips (this is called “darning”) to make a nice flat platform; and I also sew an inch of elastic into each ribbon to give them a little stretch. When we are performing I can go through roughly 2-4 pairs per week (even after adding 8 tubes of super glue per pair). It can sometimes take me up to 45 minutes from start to finish to prepare my shoes.
The way we prepare our pointe shoes is extremely important. I would never dare to forget a step or my shoes would be almost un-wearable. Many dancers will agree with me that if your shoes are bad, your performance will be bad, too. Trust me, we do everything we can to keep that from happening!
Here is an inside look at my ritualistic preparation process!