Web Exclusive - Ask Amy

Published in the December 2013/January 2014 issue.

Photo by Nathan Sayers

I generally break my pointe shoes quickly, and some of the people at my studio glue theirs to make them last longer. Does this really work? If so, where should I glue them exactly? —Juliae  
Yes! I am an avid shoe gluer—in fact, I don’t know how I got by without it in the past. Not only do my shoes last longer, they maintain their shape better. Since industrial-strength superglues, like Jet Glue or Daniel’s Pointe Shoe Glue, are pretty strong and noxious, use them sparingly and carefully to avoid skin contact. And make sure you don’t purchase conventional superglue in gel form—it doesn’t dry smoothly and will leave hard, crusty lumps on the inside of your box.

Where to glue differs from person to person depending on where you need extra support. For instance, the tips of my boxes soften and warp quickly, so before I even wear a new pair I squirt a small amount of glue inside the tip. As they break in, I gradually add more inside the box, leaving the metatarsal and bunion area glue-free so I can fully articulate my foot through demi-pointe. Once my shoes are near death, I add a bit of glue to the canvas material adjacent to the shank for extra support around my arch. Of course, what works for me might not work for you. Some dancers add glue directly to the shank, while others squirt a small area of the arch on the outer sole. You may have to do a few trial runs before you figure out what works best.

A few things to keep in mind: Don’t go overboard—only use what you absolutely need or you’ll end up with a rock-hard, slippery and seriously uncomfortable brick on the end of your foot. Avoid spilling glue on the drawstrings at all costs because once hardened, they will snap right off, and watch out for debris or loose threads inside the box (I carry a square of sandpaper in my dance bag to help smooth out any prickly spots). Leave plenty of time for the glue to dry before wearing your shoes again to avoid damaging your toe pads (and toes!). And lastly, this stuff spills like crazy and wreaks havoc on your dance bag—in fact, one of the zippers on my backpack was glued permanently shut after my bottle leaked. Make sure the cap is securely closed, keep it in a baggie and store it on a flat surface, right side up.