Pointe Shoes: Beth Patterson

Pointe shoes are one of a ballet dancer’s most important tools. Pointe shoes, which are handmade out of layers of glue and cloth, come out of the box shiny, stiff, and without any padding inside or ribbons or elastics attached. Each dancer has a unique way of preparing her shoes for classes, rehearsals and performances. In this blog series, we’ve asked the dancers to share their pointe shoe insights and preparation process - some of their answers may surprise you!

Company Artist Beth Patterson

Q. How do you prepare your pointe shoes?

A. I take a lot of time to prepare my pointe shoes - I criss-cross my elastics and darn the tips of my pointe shoes. I'll add extra layers to reinforce the darning as I use the shoes, and I add stitching to the front of my shoes above the arch to give me a little extra support. I used to calamine every pair of shoes because I liked how it looked as it continued the line of my leg. I also usually jet glue my shoes after a few wears to give the shoe a little more support.

Q. What kind of padding do you wear in your shoes?

A. I use thin lamb’s wool toe pads or paper towels. I don’t like a lot in my shoe because I like to feel the floor. I will put duct tape on my big toes and pinky toes to prevent or cover blisters.

Q. How long do your pointe shoes usually last?

A. It’s hard to say how long they last because I don’t use just one pair at a time. I will rotate through 2-4 pairs in a day so that they last longer. As I sweat in my shoe, the shoe breaks down further. By switching them out regularly, it gives the shoe a chance to dry out. I would say one shoe would lasts me about 2 weeks and I go through about 4 pairs every 1-2 months.

Q. How many years have you been dancing on pointe?

A.  I’ve been dancing on pointe for 8 years.

Q. Was it hard to find a good fit?

A. I like how supportive my current shoes are, which is something I need because my feet are compressible, but I am in the process of trying out new shoes to find a lighter weight shoe that would allow me jump and feel a little more free in my dancing. It’s hard to find a good shoe for me because of the flexibility in my feet. Some shoes cause me to sink, they don’t form to my arch, or they twist on my foot.