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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I sew and tie ribbons on my pointe shoes?

Pointe shoe ribbons are not just for aesthetics, they serve a very important function when sewn properly. Ribbons will hold the heel of your pointe shoe in place as you rise through demi pointe and onto pointe. This prevents the shoe heel from remaining rigid and falling off while your foot bends. Proper sewing places maximum pressure against the ribbon therefore relieving tension from your foot. We recommend Grishko Pointe shoe ribbons because they are made to withstand the stresses of pointe work. They will also stay in place and not rub against your ballet tights due to the matte material used on both sides.

Sewing

  1. Start with a 2.5m piece of Grishko Pointe shoe ribbon and cut it in half. The two pieces should be of equal length. You should now have one piece of ribbon for each shoe. Do not cut the ribbon again.
  2. Fold down the heel material (the spine) over the insole, toward the toe. The folded down material should resemble a V. Now draw a line along the inside of both of the V creases you have just made. Unfold the heel piece and you should have two lines that are approximately 45° from the spine of the shoe.
  3. Tuck the spine of the shoe under the heel by turning the heel material inside out. Place the centre of one of the ribbons at the center of the heel seam. Run the ribbon along, and in front of, the pencil line you just drew. At this point, the edge of the ribbon should be sitting on the pencil line. To make sewing easier, you can pin the ribbon in place.
  4. Pull the lining away from the satin to avoid stitching through it. You will need to sew both edges of the ribbon to the lining in a continuous path and using a single piece of thread. The stitch should start at the heel seam and continue along one edge of the ribbon, towards the edge of the shoe. At this point, sew across the ribbon, along the edge of the shoe. Now continue along the other edge of the ribbon, back toward the heel seam. Once you arrive back at the heel seam, repeat the path for the other half of the shoe.
  5. Fold the heel piece back into place. When you put the shoe on you should be standing on the ribbon. To prevent your ribbons from fraying, you can very carefully melt the ends with a flame.

Tying

To get the most out of your Grishko ribbons, it is important that they are tied properly.

  1. Start by placing the inside ribbon over the foot and placing the other ribbon on top. It is important to start with the inside ribbon as it will stop your shoes from twisting toward the outside and thus support your ankle. The outside ribbon will hold the inside one in place.
  2. Next, wrap both ribbons around the back of your ankle and around the leg once more.
  3. Finally, tie your ribbons together in a knot on the inside of your ankle, never at the back.

For additional help, please refer to this instructional video created by our Grishko partner, Amanda Hill, in the UK.

How do I “break in” my new pointe shoes?

Grishko Pointe shoes are elegant, handcrafted creations. They do not need to be hammered, slammed in doors or any other extreme methods of ‘breaking-in’. These methods will only damage your shoes. Grishko shoes are made with special materials that will react to the heat and moisture of your feet and quickly form to them. All that is required is your feet and a little bit of time. Your Grishko Pointe shoes are even scored under the metatarsal area of the shank to help you rise onto pointe easily.

By Hand:

  • Before putting on your shoes to break them in, you can gently work the arch of the shoe to better match the arch of your foot. To do this, place the shoe on your foot then turn the heel piece inside out. Now feel down to your instep and mark it on the inside of the shoe, on the shank. Remove your shoe and use your thumbs to work the part of the shank you marked until it bends softly. Place the shoe back on and it should have a softer bend in it and fit closer to the arch of your foot.
  • You can work in the metatarsal area of your Grishko Pointe shoes by placing your thumbs on the inside of the shoe then rolling through demi-pointe against the floor. This will make the shoes easier to break-in when you put them on.

By Exercises:

These can all be done by facing the barre and holding it with both hands for support.

  1. Rise onto and roll down from pointe very slowly on both feet.
  2. Alternate Pony Trots on each foot.
  3. Rise onto pointe and bend both knees forward, applying light pressure to move onto and over the box.
  4. You can perform all of the above exercises in turnout position and repeat until you feel the shoes are softer at the demi-pointe position.
  5. Shoes can be worn around the house, with a sock placed over them for protection. Never go up or down stairs in your pointe shoes.

How do I care for my Grishko Pointe shoes?

Here are some useful suggestions to help keep your Grishko Pointe shoes strong and elegant for as long as possible.

  • Always make sure your Grishko Pointe shoes fit properly. If your pointe shoes do not fit properly then pressure will be placed on the wrong parts of the shoe. As a result, ill-fitted shoes will not last as long or keep your feet safe.
  • Make sure that ribbons are sewn correctly and the shoes are broken in carefully. To do this, please refer to How do I sew and tie ribbons? and How do I “break in” my shoes?
  • Mark your shoes Right and Left after wearing them for the first time.
  • After class, fill your shoes with tissue paper, a towel or even newspaper to prevent your box from shrinking or losing shape.
  • "Pointe-saver" products that are specially made to absorb moisture can be placed in the shoes.
  • Hang your Grishko Pointe shoes in a dry, warm location. If you dry your shoes properly, they can last for 50% longer.
  • Feet can sweat up to half a pint in an hour; it is crucial that you dry your shoes properly. Your Grishko Pointe shoes will take 36 hours to dry completely.
  • If you dance several times a week, we recommend owning 2 or 3 pairs so they can be worn in rotation. If not, the buildup of moisture in the shoes may cause the box and shank to become weak.
  • If you do not dry your shoes properly, the box will become soft and weak. This will shorten the life of your shoes and make them dangerous to use on pointe.
  • Please do not leave your Grishko Pointe shoes in your dance or gym bag.
  • Never leave your Grishko shoes in sunlight or above a radiator or heater.
  • Do not keep your Grishko shoes in plastic bags or plastic packaging.
  • If your pointe classes are quite long (over 45-60 minutes), it is recommended that you change shoes during class.
  • If your feet sweat heavily, it is recommended that you change your pointe shoes every 30 minutes.
  • To allow your pointe shoes to breathe, we recommend carrying them in a cotton bag, such as the Grishko Mesh Bag

Why should I start with a Grishko beginner/demi-pointe shoe?

Your feet are not designed to support yourself on your toes. Therefore, they need to be strengthened and trained so that they can safely support you. You should begin your ballet education with demi-pointe shoes because they support your feet in the strengthening and training process. The added support is especially important for young dancers as their bones are not yet fully formed and are still quite fragile. You should never be going on-pointe without the proper training.

Demi-pointe shoes are recommended because they:

  • Have thicker soles that help with ankle control and balance
  • Make the muscles in the foot stronger by working them harder than regular pointe shoes
  • Acquaint the foot to the more confined working space of a pointe shoe
  • Are fashioned to look like pointe shoes thus giving a beginner an encouraging, elegant look
  • Follow the same sizing guidelines as pointe shoes so fitting will be easier and result in the best, most supportive choice
  • Provide the gradual transition needed to prepare dancers for the demands of pointe work, allowing them to reach pointe quickly and confidently
  • Reduce the possibility of injury when graduating to pointe work

Make sure to take note of how your shoes feel when you first purchase them. Use this for comparison as you wear them. Never wear shoes that have become too soft as it may lead to injury.

When do I need a Grishko Performance shoe?

Performance model shoes are unique and exclusive creations of the Grishko craftsmen. They include all the exceptional features of our classic pointe shoe models but are enhanced with the Grishko Pro and Flex technologies. The enhanced features address special anatomical or performance requirements that you may have.

A Grishko Performance shoe is ideal if you:

  • Must have quieter shoes for a stage performance or exam
  • Need extra support behind your toes but flexibility in your arch
  • Need extra elasticity in the box of the shoe
  • Wish to build a strong foot through the use of a flexible shoe
  • Experience difficulties reaching full pointe
  • Require a new shoe that will break-in quickly for an upcoming performance or exam
  • Want to make a wider foot look longer and more elegant
  • Need a lighter, more comfortable shoe
  • Have an exam, audition, recital or stage performance routine that requires a more flexible shoe
  • Have inflexible ankles or a weak foot and find it a challenge to get over the box of your shoe
  • Have a very high, average or low arch – these shoes provide superior support to all kinds of arches
  • Are particularly flat footed or low arched and require a shoe that will give your arch shape and elegance
  • Require a springier shank that will make it easier to rise up and down on pointe
  • Do not have time to break-in your shoes
  • Want longer lasting, more durable shanks

When should I replace my pointe shoes?

Grishko Pointe shoes are incredibly well-made and, if cared for properly, will last a long time and keep your feet safe. However, the rigours of your ballet practice will eventually wear out even the toughest of shoes. According to a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, you will not need to replace your Grishko Pointe shoes as often as a competitor’s.

Pointe shoe durability comparison Cunningham B.W. et al., “A Comparative Mechanical Analysis of the Pointe Shoe Toe Box,” American Journal of Sports Medicine 26 (4): 555-561,1998

Your Grishko shoes should be replaced if:

  • The toe box feels soft the moment you put the shoe on and no longer supports your toes as it once used to – it is very dangerous to continue wearing pointe shoes that no longer support your toe joints
  • The platform is no longer stiff
  • The toe box is too soft, mushy, cracked or damaged
  • The shank no longer supports your foot as it once used to or has become soft, mushy, cracked or damaged
  • You begin to feel pain in areas you never felt pain before
  • You begin to fall off pointe when you try to balance or fall forward out of turns
  • You feel that you are no longer able to push over the box

If your shoes are losing form, there are two possible causes. You may be placing too much pressure on the box and should instead be using your core muscles for the support. Alternately, it could be because you need to adjust the shank or model of your Grishko Pointe shoe. Please consult your teacher for advice.

What exercises will keep my feet strong?

It is essential that you keep your feet strong and flexible in order to advance in your ballet training and to reduce the possibility of injury. In addition to wearing properly fitted Grishko shoes, the best thing you can do to keep your feet safe and healthy is strengthen your fundamental foot muscles. These muscles can be strengthened by doing daily exercises. Please use the references below only as a suggestion and always consult with your ballet instructor to create an exercise program that is best for you.

Resources for exercises: