6 Toe Pads That Are Serious Pointe Shoe Game-Changers
Finding the right pointe shoe is hard enough. But as any serious ballet dancer can tell you, it's only half the battle. The padding you pair with your pointe shoes plays a big role in your ability to stay on your toes pain-free (or close to it) through classes and rehearsals. When Second Skin squares alone won't cut it, there's a new generation of toe pads to provide relief.
Photo by Nathan Sayers
Chances are you've seen these pads (and the telltale blue putty that comes with them) on your Instagram feed. The completely genius PerfectFit inserts are actually customized molds that fill any spaces between your toes and your shoe vamp, and help reduce pressure on commonly irritated spots like bunions. Though they've only been around for a few years, PerfectFit pads have already gained a huge pro following, including New York City Ballet's Sara Mearns, Royal Danish Ballet's Holly Dorger and Los Angeles Ballet's Bianca Bulle.
These tiny pink dots can be used on their own or in addition to your usual padding. Created to reduce irritation and blisters, the dots are made from hydrogel, which has a cooling effect on the skin and is actually popular in the medical field for its ability to serve as a hydrating barrier to wounds. You can buy 'em in bulk with their 90 piece jar, or test them out with their 20 piece packets (perfect for storing in your dance bag, by the way).
The first ever toe pads specifically designed for dancers with longer toes (or bunions that need a little extra protection), Gellows' have extended sides that can be cut to perfectly fit your foot. Though they're made with a layer of gel between two layers of seamless sock material, they're still thin enough to let you feel the floor.
If it's your pinky toes that seem to take the brunt of your pointe work, consider these conical-shaped pads. Designed to slide right over your pinky toe (or really, any of your smaller toes), the polymer gel pad helps prevent blisters and corns.
Eurotard's thinnest (and sparkliest!) toe pads, the Fashion Lites also include ventilated holes throughout to let your toes breathe. The flexible material stretches to cover your toes and bunions, and can be trimmed for a customized fit.
These colorful minis are designed to sit perfectly in the platform of your shoe, helping to absorb the shock of impact while you dance. Made of hypoallergenic medical-grade silicone, the flexible pads come in three sizes (small in pink, medium in light blue and large in white) to correspond to your pointe shoe size.
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.