Pointe Shoes: Stephanie Joe

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 Stephanie Joe

Q. How do you prepare your pointe shoes?

A. Usually, the tips of my pointe shoes (technically referred to as the “platform” of a pointe shoe) are the first part of the shoe to wear down. When I don’t take any preventative measures, the flat tips of the shoes quickly become soft even after I’ve only danced in them for a couple hours. When the platforms soften and the edges round out, it can become challenging to dance well in that pair of pointe shoes due to the shoe being unstable, unsupportive, or even painful to wear.

Solo Artist Stephanie Joe explains: "Here you can see two different pointe shoe brands I've been wearing - the shoes on the left have darning around the edge of the platform, and the shoes on the right are new and haven't been darned yet!"

Solo Artist Stephanie Joe explains: "Here you can see two different pointe shoe brands I've been wearing - the shoes on the left have darning around the edge of the platform, and the shoes on the right are new and haven't been darned yet!"

In order to protect my pointe shoes’ platforms and extend my shoes’ lifespans, I begin preparing my shoes by pouring a thin layer of Jet Glue inside the tips of my pointe shoes. I also usually darn my pointe shoes - it’s time consuming, but I’ve found it immensely helpful in finding good placement and balance, and it’s also really helped prolong the life of many pairs of shoes.

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

A. I’ve been wearing toe pads that have a thin layer of gel that covers the top of the toes, but the bottom side is just cloth, so it allows my feet to feel more connected to the floor! I love being able to articulate my feet through the ground, so I much prefer to have minimal padding or accessories in my shoes.

Q. How long do your pointe shoes usually last?

A.  I have actually been wearing a few different brands of pointe shoes, and the durability varies between each brand! I try to rotate my shoes to make each pair last longer, but at the shortest, a pair might last me only one week if I were to wear them for several hours of class and rehearsals every day. Lately, I’ve been able to extend my shoes’ lifespan to around 1-2 months depending on how many pairs of shoes I have in rotation.

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

A.  I have been dancing on pointe for around 13 years.