Mimi Tompkins – Pointe Shoes

By on June 5, 2013

I consider pointe shoes as important as my feet! In order to function properly, my feet and the shoes need to be cohesive. The art of getting the shoe to mold to the foot can take years to master. Because of this, I started getting custom pointe shoes from Freed three years ago.Some specifications for my “perfect” shoe include a harder tip, more glue in the box, drawstring elastic, forte flex shank and the sides to be cut down. To the outsider this may all sound absurd, but all these things are what make my shoes unique and right for my foot.

Believe it or not, I would order 30 pairs at a time, because of the time it takes to make and ship them. Getting a box of pointe shoes is to me, just as exciting as unwrapping a Christmas present! After my maker has prepared all my shoes and sends them from London, I unwrap and examine each pair, only to re-match them up with the mate I find suitable. Because each shoe is handmade, they are all somewhat different, so each pair takes some adjusting and doctoring.

 Getting a box of pointe shoes is to me, just as exciting as unwrapping a Christmas present!

Like the shoes, the way each person sews their shoes is different too. Having my stock of shoes, I sew a new pair when needed. Before sewing my shoes, I bend the shank and cut out the inner most part to make sure the shoe bends at my arch. I also cut the satin on the tip to create a clean line and prevent slipping. I use double thread to sew my ribbons and elastic to the shoe, and then I’m ready to put them on. I step on the box to flatten them out a bit and do half pointe to break it down as well. If the shoe feels a little softer than usual, I will put a little glue in them, to make sure they will last.

I usually go through one pair a week, depending on how much I’m rehearsing and how many performances I have. I like dancing with new shoes because I feel that I am more supported and can dance with more freedom, rather than worrying if my shoe will die half way through a piece.

It took a lot of trial an error, but after a few years, I found what worked for me. I couldn’t be happier with my shoes. I find that a good pair of pointe shoes can make a world of difference in my dancing.

About Mimi

Mimi Tompkins is an apprentice with the National Ballet of Canada. A former trainee with the San Francisco Ballet, Mimi is a second-generation ballerina from McLean, Virginia and has been dancing ballet since she was three years old.

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