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.
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.
In our "Dear Katie" series, MCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I'm 14 and have been studying ballet seriously for about three years. Even though I feel ready,my teachers haven't put me on pointe yet. Am I doing something wrong? Should I ask them about it, or is it pointe-less?
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Samantha Figgins (Andrew Eccles)
Samantha Figgins is currently in her fifth season with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (and was a Dance Spirit cover girl back in 2013!). But what many people don't know is that the gorgeous dancer suffers from single-sided deafness. As a baby, Figgins contracted spinal meningitis, which caused her to lose all hearing in her right ear. She never gave up on her dance dreams, though, and fought her way through uncomfortable situations, never missing an opportunity to learn and grow. Now, after getting her first pair of hearing aids, she opens up about her path to success. —(As told to Courtney Celeste Spears)
Sara Esty as Maggie in "A Chorus Line" (courtesy Esty)
Sara Esty's ethereal grace and sophisticated charm have won over ballet and Broadway audiences alike. The bunhead-turned-Broadway-baby began training near her hometown in Gorham, ME, at the Maine State Ballet's School for the Performing Arts (with her equally fabulous twin sister, Leigh-Ann). She enrolled full-time at the Miami City Ballet School in 2004, and joined Miami City Ballet as an apprentice in 2005. In 2006, Esty won the Princess Grace Award, and she was promoted to soloist at MCB in 2011. After leaving MCB in 2014, she made her Broadway debut in An American in Parisas the understudy for Lise, and went on to share the role of Lise with her sister on the show's national tour. Most recently, she was seen in 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Marie, Dancing Stillin Seattle, WA. —Courtney Bowers