Forum: Ask a Teacher

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SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By rose5678 Comments: 33, member since Mon Sep 14, 2015
On Wed Dec 14, 2016 09:44 PM
Edited by rose5678 (275180) on 2016-12-14 21:45:45

I had a new child come in to audition for our teen company last season. She walked into our studio, and put on her pointe shoes...wrapped the (extremely long) ribbons around her shank twice, wound the ribbons up to her mid-calf, and loosely secured them with little bows. I said "let me stop you there", and needless to say, I did not have her go en pointe that day. She ended up switching to my studio from her recreational one after her last recital there (which, by that point, I had worked with her on her ballet and pointe technique and taught her how to tie ribbons so they wouldn't come undone so easily). I went to her last recital at the studio which shall remain nameless, and her ENTIRE class was full of shakey kids that didn't need to be dancing en pointe...and lo and behold, they ALL tied their shoes pretty high, around the shank, and secured them with little bows. Now, I realize that there's more than one way to tie a pointe shoe...but is there something that I somehow missed?? It's not that they just aren't teaching the kids how to tie pointe shoes...that's how they're being TOLD to tie them!! I've inserted a collage of several pictures of their students' feet so you guys can see for yourself. My question is, why are they tying their shoes like this? Is this really a thing in some places? How do yall tie YOUR shoes?

20 Replies to SCARY looking pointe shoes...

re: SCARY looking pointe shoes... (karma: 1)
By Sumayah Comments: 6875, member since Wed Nov 12, 2008
On Thu Dec 15, 2016 08:01 AM
That's... that's... that's the most horrific thing I've ever seen. I always tied my ribbons the traditional way, inside ribbon first, mostly because the shape of my foot causes all pointe shoes to twist (and my metatarsal so wide that they just don't make a wide enough shoe that doesn't twist, doesn't let me sink, and fits my heel) and I use the ribbons to play with the tension to keep the shank from sliding off to the side.


I saw a video Balletboyrhys posted and *loved* how tidy it made his ribbons so I've been teaching my kids to ties their shoes this way. Far fewer escaped ribbons!

But that's as different as my shoe tying goes. Otherwise, double knot behind the ankle bone, in the hollow between the bone and the Achilles' tendon, fold up ends into a neat packet, and shove unceremoniously under the ribbons around the ankle.

Going under the shank scares me. Once, in an emergency situation, I didn't have scissors (NO ONE had scissors 😑) and the ribbon came in two long pieces, so I stepped on the ribbon on the inside of my shoe so it went under my arch, sewed the ribbon to each side of the shoe (using my teeth to cut the thread *cringe*) and tied as normal. Even then that didn't wrap the ribbon under my shank, it was just slack under my arch in my shoe. But normally I cut my ribbon into quarters and sewed them on the proper way. But they've always been tied correctly...
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By hummingbird Comments: 10412, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:38 PM
Not a word of a lie here, when I was at college we had a girl turn up for an audition, at my college you took your audition in a regular class with the students already at the college. She sat down and pulled out a pair of brand new, totally unbroken in pointe shoes that she put on and tied them once round her ankle and once under the arch of her foot and tied with a little bow on her instep. They were so hard she could hardly walk in them. We tried to politely give her a few pointers and a bit of help but she wasn't having any of it. We didn't ever see her again.

Thanks for the video, that's a neat little trick, I would have done the inside ribbon first as well. I always put the knot to one side of the ankle, never on the tendon. I'm a bit weird is so far as I swap my shoes over every now and again because I have one very flexible foot and one that's strong but not very flexible. I find that if I swap them over my shoes last longer, the flexible foot breaks in the shoe for my less flexible foot, I swap them over and I have the perfect pair of shoes for a bit.
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By rose5678 Comments: 33, member since Mon Sep 14, 2015
On Thu Dec 15, 2016 01:31 PM
Funny you should say that about them being unbroken and brand new, this young lady also had never heard that you have to break in pointe shoes before! They were a little worn from a bit of use, but they were still really quite hard. I can't believe teachers are letting this stuff go!
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By stargaze Comments: 869, member since Fri May 15, 2009
On Sun Dec 18, 2016 09:49 PM
This is quite terrifying and ultimately a major potential for injury...if Teachers are teaching students to tie their shoes this way, what else is happening when teaching technique...YIKES!!!
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By rose5678 Comments: 33, member since Mon Sep 14, 2015
On Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:43 AM
Ooh! Ooh! This studio also happens to not teach anything about a little term we like to call "turning out". They ALSO don't happen to teach anything about staying over the box, and they DEFINITELY don't do anything in terms of strengthening exercises. Seriously. These kids look like baby deer on stilts, and it's equally distressing and entertaining to watch...much like a train wreck.
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By stargaze Comments: 869, member since Fri May 15, 2009
On Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:39 PM
I can't imagine how it is entertaining to watch untrained dancers en pointe?! My tummy would be in knots and worrying about injuries. I get the distressing part, but how is it entertaining?!
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By rose5678 Comments: 33, member since Mon Sep 14, 2015
On Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:33 AM
I have a twisted sense of humor. It's definitely scary, but at the same time I can't help but think that if an injury DID happen, maybe there would be a lawsuit and the studio would have to stop teaching pointe. So it's awful, but I almost hope something does's clear that that's the only way that they'll stop this practice.
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By stargaze Comments: 869, member since Fri May 15, 2009
On Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:42 PM
I see your point of view....unfortunately your hands are tied and it is up to the parents of these students to realize that their children are in danger. Tough, because if the parents are trusting their child is receiving quality instruction, they have no reason to question otherwise. Yikes...I would be frustrated and annoyed.

I suppose the only thing you can do is beef up your program to make it appealing and draw in those dancers who are currently under their instruction...highlight your qualifications and maybe even distribute a memo about "finding the right dance studio/ballet instructor."

It is truly appalling how many Dance studios teach deplorable technique. Scary.
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By rose5678 Comments: 33, member since Mon Sep 14, 2015
On Fri Dec 23, 2016 01:44 PM
Thank you for the suggestions! I was considering doing something like that, but felt guilty because I'm always ragging on teachers that go to other studios to recruit this case, it IS a safety concern though. The parents look at their pretty little girls dancing on their toes in the little sparkly lyrical dresses to "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri, and don't even notice that they look wobbly. To the untrained eye, these girls just look pretty and elegant, and I'm sure that no parent wants to hear "Sorry, your daughter actually ISN'T ready for pointe" even though she's been doing it for several years under very poor instruction. It's a safety hazard, but "She's been doing this since she was ten, and hasn't gotten hurt yet! How bad can it be? Plus, they just look so pretty, and they're having fun..."

I feel like a fly banging my head against a lightbulb with this studio! I'm glad that it's not just me being a purist, and that everyone on here seems to agree that this is wrong and dangerous.

Comment #10244045 deleted
Removed by Sumayah (204191) on 2016-12-23 18:08:53 The forum is being weird so I did a thing.

re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By stargaze Comments: 869, member since Fri May 15, 2009
On Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:22 PM
There isn't much you can do because this isn't your studio. Right? Maddening as it is, you shouldn't feel guilty about sharing some educating material in the hopes that parents will see it and realize they are spending money on bad dance education and potentially damaging their child's skeletal structure for life! We have come a LONG way in Dance Science and sadly there are many many studios who do not have the proper training are looking to make a buck.

Do you have a Facebook page, website, social media account that you can spread awareness? That is really what it boils down to. Is this a small town/city? You can spread this in such a way that it reaches people, but not in an "I am trying to steal your students" sort of way!

As a parent first (if I wasn't a Dance Educator!) I WOULD want to hear what my child needs to strengthen in order to get en pointe. These parents are uneducated in terms of the anatomy for dancers and what it means to growing bones that are placed en pointe too early...keep me posted!
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By rose5678 Comments: 33, member since Mon Sep 14, 2015
On Wed Dec 28, 2016 01:22 PM
I'll keep yall updated. The surprising part is that this is actually not a small town, it's a major city with probably close to a hundred studios. Why this particular studio has about 500 students when there's a reputable one (that's cheaper, even!) a couple minutes away is beyond me. It's not the prices that draw parents in, even...each age group takes class one day a week, and they spend 30 minutes on tap, jazz, ballet, and gymnastics each. That amounts to two hours of dance one day a week, and the cost is almost $300 for this!! Definitely baffling.
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By Sumayah Comments: 6875, member since Wed Nov 12, 2008
On Wed Dec 28, 2016 05:26 PM
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2016-12-28 21:57:32 Edited to add!
Sounds like a legacy studio. You know, where Miss Susie started a studio in the '60s or '70s and it was decent for the time. Miss Susie has a daughter, Jane, who grows up dancing and eventually takes over the bulk of the class in the '80s or '90s, and she's with it enough to have a heyday by turning out some respectable dancers. They may even have a few alumni of note. They hire teachers here and there, but they're mostly friends, parents of students who cheered or tumbled in high school and took a dance class in college. Jane has a daughter, Mary, who is currently either an older teen or a young 20-something who is starting to get a few classes here and there. The problem being, she's only been taught my her mom and the other teachers, none of whom do continuing dance education and still teach the same stuff they taught in 1992. They probably hate the "bare leg" and "midriff" fashion in dance, sticking to tan stirrup tights with the ever so outdated foot undies. So bad knowledge passes on, and it's more a social thing where the students are also legacies.

The 30 minute class fits into their busy lifestyle, what with homework, drama play at school, and being on the volleyball/soccer team. Maybe they take dance at school, or they're a cheerleader, but they just want to do dance around a little and hang out with their friends.

Every city has that studio. I can think of several, actually. So it's not surprising if that's the case.

ETA: I realize I'm painting with VERY broad strokes. Not all legacy studios succumb to the scenario above. Many SO's put an investment into their teachers, so they stay current on both technique, presentation, and pedagogy. Those owners also realize that worked "back in my day" may be outdated or unsafe now, and are willing to adapt their studio to modern practices. These owners also stay on top of trends in music and costuming, so that their dancers present to current standards. I'm not saying that all third generation dancers coming up in the Grandmom's studio will be untrained or untalented, especially if they attend workshops and conventions.

But having taught for what is now a Dolly Dinkle legacy studio at the end of it's heyday, I can see the signs. I taught the ballet and I came from a pre-pro ballet academy where half a dozen or more of my direct peer group went on to be professionals. I also went to college and in my degree plan studied a lot of childhood development, anatomy and physiology, and dance. That said, I taught at an all-around studio where the kids took ballet twice a week. Neither I nor the students were under delusions that they would be professional ballerinas. If they wanted that, they needed to be in a pre-pro ballet program. They might go on to be professional dancers (one of my former students taps on Broadway - I didn't teach her tap), but not ballerinas. So, nearly ten years later, the granddaughter of the owner - who I taught - had taken over some classes. Some of the ballet classes. Hmm hmm hmm. 30 hrs of ballet a week growing up plus a degree verses taking ballet twice a week for 10 years and having danced on her highschool dance team. You can see where this is headed. I am a good teacher, but I have zero confidence in any all-around student of mine teaching ballet - just on the basis that they don't have the exposure I did. A pre-pro ballet student? Sure. Absolutely. But not a dancer who took ballet because they had to and hated every minute of it.

re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By Goldfingers_Girl Comments: 723, member since Mon Dec 16, 2002
On Sun Jan 01, 2017 03:02 PM
Ughhhh ....this makes me so upset! It's terrible! This is precisely my problem with the private sector dance studio industry...unregulated teachers, uneducated parents and anyone can open a studio.....honestly, I would have asked to speak to the owner after the recital...this is borderline child abuse....this person has no business teaching. I too, am hoping this studio gets sued SOON!

P.S lol Sumayha - I just had an interview with a " legacy studio" - I politely declined.
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By StepdancerPremium member Comments: 1977, member since Sun Oct 22, 2006
On Mon Jan 02, 2017 08:21 PM
Pointe is scary in Irish Dancing, where far too many taco-toed dancers pound away in shoes which were never made to be used that way after being "trained" by teachers who know nothing about pointe other than to yell, "Get up there!" Dancers under 12 are not allowed to compete using pointe in Irish hard shoe in at least one of the ID orgs, but that does not stop teachers from putting their students on "toe" prior to that. There is little or no preparation for pointe in many Irish schools, and the vast majority of teachers, including certified teachers, have no training in pointe. They were just thrown up there, and they do the same to their students. It's frightening.
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By maureensiobhan Comments: 4726, member since Wed Dec 24, 2003
On Mon Jan 02, 2017 08:23 PM
Oh my God (mouth drops open in horror)! Those shoes look an absolute sloppy mess, especially the pink pair at the top. Do I see a suede toe on that pair? Not only are the ribbons sloppily and improperly tied, but the shoes are also very badly fitted.
re: SCARY looking pointe shoes...
By turtletoeshoe Comments: 176, member since Tue Jun 03, 2003
On Tue Jan 03, 2017 09:15 PM
Ugh. I've interviewed with so many legacy studios since I moved this summer, it's super frustrating. It's not the easiest to be an informed, educated ballet teacher these days. I'm not always super tactful, so I'd probably awkwardly talk to the studio owner about the situation. Scary!