Ballet Dictionary: Pointe Shoes
What: Pointe shoes are a type of shoes that allow the dancer to stand on the tips of their toes while being safely supported in both classical and contemporary ballets. Pointe shoes today are made of vastly different materials. The box (front part of the shoe) of traditional shoes are made of cardboard and/or paper and glue and then wrapped and covered in satin which is the light pink material you see on the outside of a pointe shoe. These days, there are also pointe shoes that are made of plastic instead of the traditional cardboard and glue to offer more longevity.
Pointe shoes give the dancers an illusion of lightness, often as if they are floating. Although typically worn by female dancers, it is not uncommon to see male dancers wearing pointe shoes for strengthening or performance purposes. Majority of pointe shoes are handmade and hence no two pairs are identical.
Each dancer’s feet is unique. Therefore each dancer has their own method of breaking in their shoes and tailoring them to their own preferences. There are many different brands and models of pointe shoes and it takes time, trial and error to find the shoe that truly fits. Even then, over time, the shape and strength of the feet continue to change which results in either changing the brand/model of the shoe, or the way the dancer personally customizes their shoe by cutting and sewing it themselves.
Trivia: The most common pointe shoe brand used in Ballet Manila is Gaynor Minden. Other brands include Bloch, Freed of London, Grishko, Russian Pointe and Energetiks.
Dancer: Rissa May Camaclang, Company Artist