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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Demi-Pointe Ballet Shoes?

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I read with interest Xena's post about split-sole ballet shoes. I, too, use these!! I returned to ballet recently after a 23 year break and was fitted immediately by the sales person with split-sole shoes. I think the idea was that it would be easier for me to get some arch to my pointed foot with the split-sole (and let's face it, my arch is pretty average and can use all the help it can get! *LOL*).


In thinking about the different types of ballet shoes, I have been wondering about demi-pointe shoes. There seems to be a number of adult beginners who have ventured onto pointe and I wonder if you guys used demi-pointe shoes along the way to strengthen your feet? What is the official purpose of demi-pointe shoes? And is there any reason why I do not see people wearing them in class?



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ummm... what are demi-pointe shoes? (I'm always finding out how little I actually know about ballet!) I thought there were soft shoes and pointe shoes, but is there something in between? How does that work?


I'm thankful for all the posts about shoes and pointe classes lately. I've been taking ballet for about 3 years now and when I started I never thought I would go on pointe (figured I was too old - started when I was 26). About 6 months ago I started to think "well maybe I can..." Then i started reading the posts here about adults going on pointe and what the prerequisites are (do I really have enough rotation?? etc.) and thought well maybe I shouldn't after all. I figured I had enough to work on.


But a friend of mine just started on pointe and every time I look at her I think, oh, I really want to do that. I also started to go back and take a beginning class once a week to work on some basic alignment things and I feel so much more centered and up on my legs. So now I'm thinking, hmmm.... maybe I CAN do that.


Sorry for the long post. Back to the question - what are demi pointe shoes?

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Guest beckster

Demi-pointe shoes (also known as soft blocks or soft pointes) are similar to pointe shoes, but without a shank. The shank is the hard inner sole that supports the foot on pointe. So, they have a reinforced part round the toes and the sole is harder than a normal ballet shoe, but you shouldn't stand on pointe in them. They are to get the foot used to the feel of a pointe shoe, and can also strengthen the foot due to the increased resistance of the sole. They are used a lot in the UK because some of the examining boards require that they are used for the vocational-track exams. You can make them by pulling the shank out of a worn out pair of pointe shoes or buy them new. Companies such as Gamba, Freed and Bloch make ready-to-wear soft block shoes.

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Thanks - you learn something new every day! So these are the shoes that you would use in building up to going on pointe? Do you just do class as usual in them for a while to get used to the feel, then graduate to normal pointe shoes to actually start standing on pointe?

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I have gone back to wearing mine now after not wearing them for a few months, and I must admit, I will be getting a new pair, as I'm going to start wearing them again. If you check on the Pointe shoe forum, I started a thread there about Gamba Delcos (no Mjr. Johnson, not car batteries :) ). If you search for soft blocks or demi pointes you will find a whole wealth of information.

Bascially, they just fit better than taking the shank out of your point shoes, which is what is done sometimes. They have a hard box, so you tend to get hard skin forming on your toes when wearing them, but they definately offer a good work out. However, if you are just beginning, it is probakbly not totally advisable to buy them to start with. Some teachers are totally not into them, and some are. Ask your teacher if you are unsure.


Jeanette :D

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Well, the reason for teachers not liking them is that it's definitely a shoe that needs to be worn when having a certain proficiency. If you just started ballet, wearing soft pointes will be harder for you, and the teacher may not see the foot inside the shoe (it's easier to see where the toes go in a soft slipper). Also, it's not recommended for people with even a slight sickle.


All in all, it's excellent to build up strength (whether or not you want to go on pointes) but only if you have a few months/years of experience.

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Yes definately agree with not wearing them if you have a sickle. I used to have a sickle on my left foot, and I guess that is why I stopped wearing them, so I could sort it out. It took a good 3 months to stop sickling.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The other good thing about soft pointes is that you ALWAYS have to point your toes! I have very high arches so if I wear split soles I can make my feet look nice with very little effort. I have to work really hard when I wear soft pointes and I think this is good. They make you stronger too, and you have to work on balance more when you wear them.

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Back in my student days, when we had to chase the woolly mammoths out of the studio before we could use it (ever clean up after a mammoth? Whew!), Capezio was still making a shoe called the "Russian Ballet". It was an ordinary technique shoe, but had a full oak-tanned leather sole, like a pointe shoe. Men used to like them rather a lot, and my teacher used them as an indicator of "pre-pointe" status. If she told a student "get a pair of Russians, and ribbons," she was indicating that at least by the beginning of next term, pointe was probably in the picture!:cool:

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I used to love my soft pointes (or soft blocks as we used to call them). My feet always looked so nice in them - better than soft shoes and pointe shoes.


I'm hoping that when I 'audition' for the new studio I will be able to get some in a few months as I get stronger. I have to have a orthopaedic check which would indicate to me that I'm being assessed for future pointe work. But I have to wait now as on antibiotics which are knocking me sideways :) and there's no way I'll get through a class at the moment.

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