Peachy pink satin pointe shoes … so beautiful! But they don’t stay that way for long do they? No, after a few hours worth of barre, your pointe shoes will be broken-in and start showing small signs of wear. That perfect amount of break-in only last so long before they start getting too soft and worn down.
If you are taking multiple pointe classes a week, your shoes could even be all used up in a week or even less! If you are still early in your pointe training, your shoes will last much longer – you may even grow out of them before they have a chance to get totally “dead” – but it’s still important to know how to look for signs of too much wear.
The reason that pointe shoes are unfit for wear at a cetain point is that they stop supporting the foot. That will put unnecessary strain and stress on the joints, muscles and connective tissues of your feet. Your pointe shoes are unfit for wear when they offer only minimal resistance in roll-through releve, when they stop supporting the arch and certainly when they allow the metatarsal to pop out of the throat of the shoe.
Some dancers prefer to keep their dead shoes for demi-pointe use during non-pointe ballet classes. This can help a dancer continue to become comfortable in a pointe shoes. Personally, I prefer a real soft shoe for ballet technique classes, but some might find the dead pointe shoes useful for training. Plus, they don’t have to buy soft shoes anymore.
Before storing your “dead” pointe shoes or giving them away as gifts, take some time to analyze how they broke-in. Did the shank break or break-down much more quickly than the box? You may need a stronger shank or possibly a higher vamp. Did the box break down before you got the shank broken-in? You might need a softer shank or even a lower vamp. Take note of how the features of the shoe worked for you throughout your working in them. Make a list of good and bad things you noticed about the break-in and bring it and the shoe’s brand and style name with you when you go for your next fitting. This information is invaluable in deciding whether you should move to a different brand or style or if you are having technique issues that need to be straightened out. Ask your teacher for help if you’re not sure how to make these observations.
Pointe shoes are expensive and breaking in new ones can be no fun, but your health and safety are paramount! Learn to recognize when your pointe shoes are beyond safe use and when it’s time to get re-fitted and buy new ones.