Pointe Shoes: Laura Schlatter

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!

Solo Artist Laura Schlatter

Q. How do you prepare your pointe shoes?

A. I will roll the arches a bit to loosen them up, squish the box, but not too much! And then begin sewing on my ribbons and elastics - nothing fancy. I will wear my first finished shoe while sewing the other just to get it a little soft. Then I will wear the other, usually until my podcast or movie that I'm watching is finished! Haha! When completely finished I grab my pocket knife and cut off part of the shank on the inside to leave it at 3/4 in length. I don't have super high arches so this helps me to better articulate through my shoes.

Laura Schlatter's Pointe Shoe essentials: (left to right) 1. Extra ribbons and elastics (I very rarely buy new ribbons & elastics), 2. Lighter (to burn edges of ribbons & elastics), 3. Needles & pins, 4. Seam Ripper, 5. Scissors, 6. Dental Floss (sometimes I use quilting thread), 7. Extra blades for my pocket knife (which was confiscated at airport security while on tour! Oops!), 8. Jet Glue, 9. Lamb's wool, 10. Shoes for both contemporary & classical repertoire (I only 3/4 shank my left shoe), 11. Duct tape - for my toes, 12. Toe spacers (sometimes when my bunion is hurting I will wear a toe spacer, but on rare occasions), 13. Squishy tape (I sometimes use this on my heels) 14. Muscle relaxant cream for my calves

Laura Schlatter's Pointe Shoe essentials: (left to right) 1. Extra ribbons and elastics (I very rarely buy new ribbons & elastics), 2. Lighter (to burn edges of ribbons & elastics), 3. Needles & pins, 4. Seam Ripper, 5. Scissors, 6. Dental Floss (sometimes I use quilting thread), 7. Extra blades for my pocket knife (which was confiscated at airport security while on tour! Oops!), 8. Jet Glue, 9. Lamb's wool, 10. Shoes for both contemporary & classical repertoire (I only 3/4 shank my left shoe), 11. Duct tape - for my toes, 12. Toe spacers (sometimes when my bunion is hurting I will wear a toe spacer, but on rare occasions), 13. Squishy tape (I sometimes use this on my heels) 14. Muscle relaxant cream for my calves

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

A. I usually go with just plain lamb's wool. I've done it that way since I was a student. I've tried other padding but always go back to lamb's wool! I like that it's thin and I can still feel my toes as it kind of hugs each individual one inside the box. My current shoes have a wider box so I wear thinner toe pads in addition to the lambs wool. I also wrap duct tape around a couple of my toes that are prone to blisters. I've built up tough enough skin that my toes can handle it!

Q. How long do your pointe shoes usually last?

A.  I am known to wear my shoes well into the grave! The most I've ever worn in 1 month (while rehearsing a full-length ballet) was three pairs.

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

A.  I have been dancing en pointe for 10 years.

Q. Any fun pointe shoe memories?

A. My audition for Ballet 5:8 was a private audition so I was extremely nervous. I mean, there was no one to watch for combinations so I had to know my stuff! When I went to grab my pointe shoes for center, I realized I had accidentally grabbed two left shoes! Rather than asking to leave and grab another shoe, I decided to just go for it. (Disclaimer: DO NOT try this at an audition, I don't recommend it.) Well, I ended up successfully landing a decent amount of fouetté turns and also landed a Company Artist position.