Every ballerina has a toe-shoe kit (actually, we call them pointe shoes, but “Top Ten Toe-Shoes” has a nicer ring to it, don’t you think?) This kit is developed over years of trial and error, and it is always a work in progress, as dancers make new discoveries, learn tips and tricks from their peers, and continue to grow in their pointe technique. When I first started en pointe, I used loose lambs wool to pad my toes. I then switched to “toe pads” but then, I gained enough strength in my toes to stop using any padding. I now tape my toes, but am slowly working towards eliminating that as well, relying solely on the fortitude of my callouses and technique to support my dancing.
So, as of today, here are my Top Ten Toe-Shoe Kit Essentials:
1. Toe Tape – I recommend cloth toe tape. My favorite is the “up & up” Athletic tape at Target – comes 2 rolls to a pack for about $6. Here’s the link to Target: http://www.target.com/p/up-up-athletic-tape-2-count-10yds-per-roll/-/A-15010608
Discount Dance sells toe tape by “Bunheads” as well as foam tape by “Gaynor Mindon.” I have not tried either of these, but it might be worth taking a look. Here is a link to Discount Dance’s site: http://www.discountdance.com/dancewear/style_BH370.html
2. Toe Nail Clipper – I tend to clip my toenails the night before so that they have several hours to settle and do a tiny bit of growing. If I cut them right before I put on pointe shoes, the cut is so fresh that sometimes my nail separates from the skin and toe and causes a lot of pain. No good. However, there are times when I am in rehearsal and realize that I need to trim a hang nail or an over-grown callous, and having clippers on hand is a bonus.
3. Nail File – this is SO important for me to have right before I put on my pointe shoes. Rather than clipping the nails, I can simply fine-tune the length of nail, smoothing any rough edges with my handy nail file. I find that if I keep my nails filed, I don’t need to clip them as often, minimizing the potential of over-clipping and resulting pain.
4. Dental Floss – I love using waxed, white dental floss to sew my ribbons and elastics. The waxed thread goes through the satin and canvas so much more easily, and if I make a mistake or need to pull out the thread from my ribbons, it can be removed in a cinch. Also, the container has that little cutter-thingy built in so that you can quickly cut your thread to the desired length. The cheaper the dental floss, the more flimsy the thread, so be sure to purchase something mid-priced to ensure that you have a sturdy product.
5. Seam Ripper – this is what I love to use to pull out thread – it works more effectively than scissors for this purpose.
6. Mini-Scissors – I do like to keep a small set of sharp scissors in my kit to trim any loose ends, clean up any remnants of worn-out satin on the tips of my pointe shoes, and of course to cut thread, elastics, and ribbons. Also useful for trimming loose threads/labels from leotards and tights.
7. Needles – I keep three different types of needles in my kit: a small needle for sewing ribbons/elastics, a thicker, straight needle in case I need to sew through leather ballet shoes or for quick darning, and a thick, rounded needle for darning the tips of my pointe shoes.
8. A Lighter – ALWAYS be mindful of this item. I use it to melt the ends of my ribbons so that they do not fray. However, when I take a flight to a dance gig, I always make sure to take my dance essentials in my carryon, including pointe shoes and kit, and they will NOT let you take a lighter in your carryon!
9. Toe Covers/Caps – I make my own from lambs wool and toe tape. I wear one on each of my big toes, because I have what is called a “Greek” shaped foot, where the second toe is longer than the big toe. Wearing a toe cap creates a more even platform for my foot. Bunheads makes a toe cap that I have not tried, but here is a link to check it out: http://www.allaboutdance.com/dance-clothing/product-view/style_BH1450.html?camp=Froogle_BH1450&utm_source=Froogle&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=BH1450&utm_campaign=Products&gclid=CjwKEAjw_ci3BRDSvfjortr–DQSJADU8f2j3fTd2OWmyDpu2i9-FRDulsFPt6AOASipi1KjR1942hoC_RLw_wcB
10. Foot lotion: After rehearsal, I always take the time to stretch and massage my feet. This really helps relieve a lot of tension and exhaustion in my toes, and it results in less pain later in the evening and/or next day in rehearsal. I like to keep a small tube of lotion in my kit to rub into my feet. I use a very small amount, but it helps keep my skin pliant without sacrificing the protective callouses on my toes. Try not to use anything too greasy – something that will absorb quickly into the skin. I like using Aveda’s Stress-Fix body crème in lavender scent (the lavender fragrance also helps to de-stress me after a day of dancing). Heres a link to the product: http://www.aveda.com/product/8930/29921/Collections/stress-fixTM/stress-fix-body-creme/index.tmpl
If you liked these Top Ten Essentials, tune in next week for 10 More Toe-Shoe Kit Essentials. I picked my absolute MUSTS for this first list, but there are a few more things I like to keep on hand for optimal pointe-shoe preparedness ☺.
What do you like to keep in your kit? Comment below! Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to subscribe to Ballerina Badass on YouTube for more great content. Never Give Up, Never Stop Dancing. #BallerinaBadass