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.


PerfectFit Inserts

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.


Gaynor Minden Dancers' Dots

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).


Pillows For Pointes Extra Long Gellows

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.


Capezio Pinky Pads

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 Fashion Lite Toe Pads


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.


Grishko Mini Toe Pads

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.

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The Joffrey Ballet's Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.

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Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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