Ballet Lesson 7 of 7: Tying Pointe Shoes

Tying Pointe Shoes

Tying pointe shoes incorrectly is as dangerous for the health of the dancer’s body, as progressing to using pointe shoes without having sufficient training, and being capable enough to dance en pointe. The decision to move to pointe shoes should only be made by a qualified dance teacher who knows the students body and limitations and is prepared to supervise this progression.

Harm and injury is caused to the feet, legs and spine through the improper fitting, and tying of pointe shoes. This guide aims to provide a starting place for any dancer progressing through to pointe shoes, however it is the part of the dancer to ensure that not only has a competent teacher informed them that they are ready to make the transition, but also that they visit a suitable qualified shoe specialist to have the right shoes chosen for their particular foot type.

Most ballet teachers will set aside a full lesson in which the class is taught how to tie their pointe shoes, and also how to prepare them for dancing, to increase the dancers comfort and the longevity of the shoe. For a beginner learning to tie pointe shoes the correct way can be a tedious and time consuming exercise but it is imperative for the health of the dancer.

Although some dancers may choose to tie their pointe shoes while their foot is flat, it is preferable for them to be tied while the foot is in the en pointe position. As this is the position in which the shoe was designed to dance in. The most important thing to remember when tying pointe shoes while the foot is en pointe is to after the tying is complete to attempt to flatten the foot slightly flexing the muscles within to ensure that at those periods when it is required that the foot be flat that the circulation to the foot is still free.

Another important point to remember when tying pointe shoes is to ensure that the ribbons are tied reasonably close together around the ankle as this provides the foot with the most support. And also the ribbon should be as smooth and flat as possible, both for aesthetic reasons, and also to prevent any excess friction which could lead to painful blisters and calluses. Finally it is important to remember to tie the knot in the ribbon on the inside of the ankle rather than at the back of the foot as this way helps to minimize the pressure on the tendons in the ankle.

When tying any ballet shoes, the inside ribbon should be first crossed over the ankle to the outside, going around the back of the ankle. This needs to be reversed for the outside ribbon, with it traveling across the back of the ankle to the inside. Depending on the length of the ribbon it may need to be crossed over the back more than once. The ribbon should be tied in a knot just above the ankle bone (the small ball like bone on the ankle). The important difference with tying pointe shoes should lie with also crossing the ribbon over at the arch of the foot, before wrapping it around the back of the ankle to provide a greater feeling of support.

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5 replies
  1. Tyciol
    Tyciol says:

    This is pretty neat. I’ve got a lot of strengthening to do and weight to lose before I’m prepared for pointe, but now I know this is also a further prep to master.

    Btw, what do you advice regarding toenails, length and the shape and so forth, for how to best fit into these shoes? Also, should I file down calluses to minimize mass, or would they help fill out the shoe to add support?

    Also curious, you know on Titanic how Rose Dawson goes up only on her big toes? Can anyone really do that in real life? Would it be damaging? I really want to be able to do that. Perhaps that is beyond pointe? It also relates to nail shape, as obviously only ideal nails could handle that. Time for reinforcement polish!

  2. Valerie
    Valerie says:

    Just keep your toenails trimmed evenly and don’t get rid of callusses unless they get large enough they get in the way. Reducing the size of your calluses should be fine as long as you don’t get rid of them completely otherwise you will just create more blisters.
    The Titanic thing is bad. She has no support for her ankles feet or toes and it can be quite dangerous to do. Toes and nail shape have very little if anything to do with it, I did it when I was younger and much more naive and I had to constantly remind my elementary ballet class that I tought last year not to do it.

    Don’t go fully on your toes without pointe shoes and teacher aproval.

  3. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    I matters which side of the ankle it is tied on because if you tie them on the outside, it will not be physically attractive to the audience. Also, it would be directly above the large bone, which means it would possibly cause pain on tendons and such. But the biggest point that was stressed to me is physical appearance. But never and I repeat NEVER tie them in the back like you see on movies and things like that. Tying them in the back can cause blocked blood circulation, not to mention pain. Hope this has helped 🙂
    And to Valerie, I have seen people that have never taken dance trying to go up on their toes and I just hope they don’t get hurt.
    Wow, I just saw how old these posts are. Well, hope this helps someone that finds this site as I did on Google.


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