Trending

A Step-by-Step Guide to "Pancaking" Your Pointe Shoes

From left: Misty Copeland, Ebony Williams and Ashley Murphy in pancaked shoes. Photo by Nathan Sayers for Pointe.

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.
Giveaways
Modeled by Daria Ionova. Darian Volkova, Courtesy Elevé Dancewear.
Keep reading... Show less
News
Boston Ballet's Kathleen Breen Combes, María Álvarez and Dawn Atkins. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Alexandra MacDonald (front row, third from left) didn't win a medal at the Genée International Ballet Competition, but says she came home inspired and newly motivated by the people she met there. Photo Courtesy Genée IBC.

Ballet competitions are an exciting part of any dancer's career. Yet while scholarships, prize money, job offers and the prestige that comes with winning a medal are compelling incentives to participate in one, they're not the only benefits. In fact, many dancers who go home empty-handed still look fondly on the experience and go on to become successful professionals.

This week, the 2019 Genée International Ballet Competition kicks off in Toronto. From August 20-29, over 50 dancers, ages 15–19 and trained in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, will perform three solos in the hopes of winning a medal and a $10,000 cash prize. Many past medalists have gone on to illustrious careers—but so have those who didn't win anything. We spoke with three Genée alumni now dancing professionally who know what it's like not to place. Read on to find out why they deem their comp experiences a success, and how you can make the most of yours—whether you win or not.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Skylar Brandt and Josephine Lee. Screenshot Courtesy Lee.

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. We think Brandt might win an award for how long she makes her shoes last; watch the below video for the staggering number of days (or weeks!), and to hear about all of her unique customizations and pro tips.