What carries the ballerinas during their moments of glory in decadent theatre shows and box offices hits, such as the Nutcracker and the Black Swan is none other than their dainty ballet shoes.
There are various types of ballet shoes with different lifetimes but they all tend to wear out easily from intensive rehearsals. This article attempts to uncover some tricks and tips to extend your shoes’ lifespans without compromising your training.
How to Make Ballet Canvas Slippers Last Longer
Credits: Decathlon Singapore
Ballet dancers recommend monthly replacements of canvas shoes. You can wash canvas ones in a wash bag containing some mild detergent to remove most of the dirty and dusty blemishes.
- Alas, the shoes’ color might not be restored well after several washes despite the rather gentle cleaning. Thus, to conceal any discoloration, especially before performances, you can use a foundation makeup of a color that matches the fading shoe color.
- Frequent washing can cause bacteria to grow inside the shoes if they are not fully dried, which can be a challenge in humid environments. Hence, bacteria can accumulate inside the shoes, and more holes may start appearing in a weakened canvas which renders the shoes unable to do their job well.
How to Make Ballet leather slippers Last Longer
Ballet leather slippers last at least 2 to 3 months longer than canvas ballet shoes. To make them last even longer, airing them outside regularly helps remove moisture which can damage the leather.
To clean the leather part,
- avoid soaking it in water (remember, leather is damaged by excess water).
- Instead, gently clean off any spot of dirt or dust with a damp cloth or wipes.
- If you want to be on the safer side of things, you can try this out on a tiny part of the leather first to ensure that the shoe colour is not removed, or that the shoe is not stained.
- For more stubborn spots, you can use a tiny amount of laundry detergent on a cloth to clean them off.
To maintain the shoes’ shape during cleaning, take a walk around in these slippers while they are damp for around 30 minutes (on clean floors please). This helps the shoe to better wrap around your foot after being cleaned.
To restore the shoes’ shine after the cleaning, rub Vaseline or a matching shoe polish before wiping the shoe surface with a soft cloth.
How to Make Ballet Pointe Shoes Last Longer
Credits: Sonata Dancewear
To make your pointe shoes last twice as long, as usual, remove the toe pieces after each time of wearing them. Allow them to dry out for at least 1 day before reusing them. Ballet schools have recommended dancers own at least 2 pairs of pointe shoes to alternate their usage of them for lessons.
A silky-looking staple for ballerinas, one might be surprised to learn of the dozens of worn-out pointe shoes that a typical ballerina has. Given that the shoes are made of natural materials such as fabric, they are prone to becoming too soft or losing their shape more easily, especially in damp conditions too.
This is why pointe shoes typically only last from a few hours up to around 10 hours of dancing. For example, if you attend a one-hour long pointe lesson every week, your pointe shoes would last for around 3 months.
How To Harden Ballet Shoes
For decades, dance companies have been using wood shellac to harden the boxes and shanks on their ballet slippers. While some dancers still swear by the stuff, others are turning to Jet Glue to make those same shoes even stronger.
"There's something about having a solid piece of leather that really helps with comfort," says Jennifer Rizzolo, artistic director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She uses the adhesive on the soles of her dancing shoes, where the rubber sole meets the leather upper.
The glue dries much faster than shellac, meaning that dancers don't have to wait long to wear their shoes again. Second, it doesn't require heat to activate; instead, it works best when mixed directly into the water. Finally, unlike shellac, Jet Glue won't crack or peel away over time.
For a quick fix, you might consider Jet Glue, but if you want your shoes to hold up for the long term, go for shellac.
In the world of ballet where fluidity and precision of movement are key, your feet are your best friends. Instead of being easily damaged which can potentially injure your feet, ballet shoes should be top-notch for you to dance confidently and gracefully like a swan.