On average pointe shoe last for about 10 - 20 hours of dancing. Yes, you read that right....10-20 hours! I bet your parents had no idea what they were getting into when they put you in your first ballet class. The life span of a pointe shoe varies widely depending on how many hours you dance, how flexible or strong your feet are, what you’re doing in class, how much you sweat, how much you weigh and many other factors. There are dancers that go through 5 pairs a month, and there are dancers that go through 2 pairs a year. But there are ways to extend the lifespan of a shoe. Here are 5 tips to get you through:
Tip #1 - Drying
Pointe shoes are made of layers of paste, burlap, and canvas (click here to see how pointe shoes are made). They lose their integrity the more you dance and sweat in them. After dance class, you should carry your pointe shoes inside a mesh bag and hang it outside your dance bag to keep them dry. When you get home, take your pointe shoes out of the dance bag and lay them out to air properly. I knew a dancer who used to hang her pointe shoes in front of a fan to dry them after class. I’m sure her family didn’t appreciate the smell, but they did last longer!This first tip should be a juicy one. It’ll keep your readers with you.
Tip #2 - Rotating
Pointe shoes take about 36 hours to dry. If you dance en pointe every day, you are killing your shoes faster because you are dancing in shoes that are not completely dry. Dancers who are en pointe every day should have multiple pairs to rotate throughout the week. For example at minimum: a pair for Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. This will make your shoes last longer because it allows more time for them to dry.
Tip #3 - Stuffing
Another way to help pointe shoes last longer is to stuff them with paper. It will help the shoe keep its shape as well as soak up the extra moisture inside the shoes.
Tip #4 - Jet Glueing
If you have problems killing your shoes too quickly, jet glue is a great way to make your shoes last longer. This is oftentimes more effective than ordering a harder pair of shoes because you can target the area that dies the quickest. First, figure out which area of the shoe dies the quickest (typically the shank or the box). Then jet glue that area when you first get your pointe shoes. This is important because if you try to jet glue after your shoe is soft, it won’t make your pair last much longer.
Tip #5 - Professional Fitting
One of the best ways to make a shoe last longer is letting your fitter know they’re dying too quickly. If the shoe fits properly and your feet are well aligned and supported, the shoes tend to last a bit longer. Your fitter may also be able to give you some of their own tricks that are personalised to you. Keep in mind every dancer breaks shoes differently according to how they dance and their feet. Some brands may last longer for some dancers and shorter for others. Some shank strengths may last longer or shorter depending on the dancer as well (it’s not always the harder shanks that last longer).
The best way to figure out how to take care of your shoes is to experiment and see what works best for you. It’s a long journey, but it’s all part of being a dancer.