(From left) Misty Copeland, Ebony Williams, and Ashley Murphy in pancaked shoes (photo by Nathan Sayers)

How to "Pancake" Your Pointe Shoes

No two pairs of pointe shoes are the same, from their shanks to their boxes, their color to their shine. To make an array of shoes more uniform or to get them to a shade closer to your skin tone, dance teachers might ask that you "pancake" your pointe shoes before going onstage. But what does that entail, exactly? We're here to show you.


(Fun fact: Dancers used to cover their shoes with a thick base called pancake makeup, which is where the term "pancaking" came from.)

Materials needed:

  • a bottle of pink calamine lotion (if you're trying to match pink tights) or a bottle of liquid foundation that matches your skin tone
  • a wedge-shaped makeup sponge
  • a bowl or plate
  • a paper towel
  • pointe shoes
Preparation:
  • Fold the paper towel so that it's thick enough to absorb the calamine lotion/foundation without any seeping through.
  • Shake the bottle of calamine lotion or foundation to ensure it's well-mixed.
  • Pour about three seconds' worth of calamine lotion or foundation into your bowl or onto your plate. (Less is more! You don't want to over-do it, or your shoes will take forever to dry.)
  • If your pointe shoes are well-worn, tidy up any frayed satin by trimming it with scissors.
Steps:
  1. Dip one side of your makeup sponge into the calamine/foundation.
  2. Blot the makeup sponge on the paper towel to eliminate any excess calamine/foundation, which will prevent splotchy streaks on the satin.
  3. Hold your pointe shoe from the inside. With long and light sweeping strokes, begin to paint the shoe, starting with the top of the box.
  4. Work your way around the shoe, using the corners of the makeup sponge to reach satin that's creased or wrinkled. Be sure to paint the fabric that cases the drawstring, as well.
  5. To color the ribbons, lay each ribbon flat over your open palm, making sure that the outside of the ribbon is facing up. Using the same long and light sweeping motions, apply the calamine/foundation from one end to the other. (Don't forget the section of the ribbon closest to the shoe.)
  6. Hang the shoes by the heels to dry. For best results, let them dry for at least one hour before wearing them.
  7. Touch up the calamine/foundation as needed. Often, marks from the stage can be dulled by a fresh coat of color.

Latest Posts


Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Because this is stock art that exists in 2020. (Getty Images)

How to Dance in a Face Mask

There's a new must-have accessory for the dancers who've begun to venture back into the studio. Face masks are essential to protect your teachers and fellow dancers (not to mention their families) from coronavirus. But they definitely make dancing more complicated.

How can you prepare for—and adjust to—the new masked normal? Here's practical advice from Dr. Steven Karageanes, a primary care sports medicine specialist who's worked with the Rockettes and "So You Think You Can Dance," and Anna Dreslinski Cooke, a Chicago-based professional dancer who has experience dancing in cloth masks, disposable masks, N95 masks, and face shields.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search