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Image: Dancer on pointe on bricks

En Pointe Elegance: Unraveling the Secrets of Ballet’s Signature Footwear

Ballet dancers may be full of grace while they are on stage, but what they do to their pointe shoes beforehand is surprisingly violent.

Each dancer has to make the shoes their own, so before they step foot on stage, they tear, break, file, sew, and bang their shoes against walls to get the best fit. If they don’t, they could be risking their career.

So, let’s take a look into the world of pointe shoes—the only tool a ballet dancer has other than their body.

Image: Ballet dancer wearing pointe shoes on bricks
Source: Pixabay

Robots may be replacing some manufacturing jobs, but there’s nothing that can compare to a product that is handmade. The amount of care and attention to detail that’s put into each creation just can’t be replicated by something that isn’t human.

Painters have their pigment and brushes, musicians have their instruments, but dancers really just have their bodies to express their art. Because of this, support needs to come from the ground up, and it all starts with the shoe. It’s their tool.

And the risk of injury is high if the dancer doesn’t have just the right support. In this video below, NYC Ballet principal dancer Megan Fairchild walks us through just how important the right shoe is—especially when you’re in them the entire day.

Via: nycballet 1

Professional ballet dancers can go through an average of 10 pointe shoes a week!

It’s easy to see how their process can become a ritual when they have to go through it so many times.

What’s remarkable is the individuality in each dancers way of doing this. Take a look at how Olivia Boisson, another dancer from the NYC Ballet, prepares her shoes…


Pretty intense, right? Although each pair of shoes doesn’t last long for a professional ballet dancer, the amount of care that still goes into each of them is beautiful.

The Importance of the Maker

Because ballet pointe shoes are so unique to the wearer, once most ballerinas find the maker that they love they stay with them for their entire careers. It becomes a symbiotic relationship between the maker and the dancer, where they both support each other’s professions. But they rarely meet each other! Which makes the following video all the more special.

Let’s see how pointe shoes are made in this short video from the Royal Opera House where two of their ballerinas meet their makers at Freed of London!

Via: Royal Opera House 3

The amount of pride that comes with creating something you know someone needs and will use is unmatched. And who knew that could come with a pair of shoes? These makers create the tool for an artist to create their own art. It’s a direct progression, and it’s almost hard to think of anything more satisfying than when you can see this connection happening.

The Life Changing Work of a Master Craftsman

Behind the doors of Blue Ox Millworks, Eric Hollenbeck passes down generations of knowledge, instilling a sense of pride and healing with his work. By sharing the love for his craft, this woodworker is helping high schoolers and veterans alike find their own healing.

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Ukraine Family Uses Etsy to Keep Heirloom Weaving Tradition Alive

In the Carpathian mountains of Ukraine, the Kischuk family has taken to the internet to keep the centuries old tradition of weaving lizhnyk blankets alive. From sheep to final shipping, Natalya Kischuk and her husband Yaroslov, along with their children, use traditional methods handed down for generations to craft beautiful blankets, rugs, and clothing that are now enjoyed by people around the globe.

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Alaffia: Proof that Traditions are a Global Resource We Can All Enjoy!

Does economic prosperity always have to come at the cost of tradition? Or can tradition help us create an even better business model? Let us introduce you to Alaffia, a company that has found a way to harness centuries of knowledge to empower a new generation of skilled craftswomen.

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Who helps you do what you do?

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” — Albert Einstein 

This article was originally published September 28, 2018

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  1. “Pointe Shoes.” YouTube, Nycballet, 17 Nov. 2009, www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkNb_HQjsMg. Accessed 12 Sept. 2018.
  2. “How Ballerinas Customize Their Pointe Shoes.” YouTube, INSIDER, 8 Sept. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tISaWeO9q8. Accessed 12 Sept. 2018.
  3. “How Ballet Pointe Shoes Are Made.” YouTube, Royal Opera House, 18 July 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1xgzGLCvw4. Accessed 12 Sept. 2018.
Image: Samantha Burns

Sam Burns

Former Editor-In-Chief

Sam wrote and edited hundreds of articles during her time on the Goodness Exchange team from 2016-2021. She wrote about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the Goodness Exchange, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.

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