How Do Ballerinas Afford Pointe Shoes If They Need To Change Them So Frequently?

Ballet is synonymous with grace, discipline, and beauty. But behind the scenes of this ethereal world lies a practical concern: the frequent replacement of pointe shoes. For a professional ballerina, pointe shoes are as essential as a painter’s brush, yet they wear out incredibly fast. This leads to an inevitable question: How do ballerinas manage the cost?

How Do Ballerinas Afford Pointe Shoes If They Need To Change Them So Frequently?

Ballerinas often receive financial support from dance companies, scholarships, or personal savings to afford pointe shoes. Some companies also provide dancers with pointe shoes as part of their contracts. Fundraising and donations from supporters may also help cover the costs of these specialized shoes, which need frequent replacement due to wear and tear.

Ballerinas, especially professional dancers, often face the challenge of affording pointe shoes due to their frequent need for replacement. Pointe shoes are an essential part of a ballerina’s equipment, and they wear out relatively quickly due to the rigorous demands of ballet training and performances. Below is a table outlining some common ways ballerinas afford pointe shoes:

SponsorshipSome ballerinas may be sponsored by dancewear companies or individual patrons who cover the cost of their pointe shoes in exchange for promotion or performance commitments.
Company SupportDancers employed by professional ballet companies may receive pointe shoes as part of their compensation package or receive a stipend specifically for dance-related expenses.
FundraisingBallerinas may participate in fundraising events, galas, or crowdfunding campaigns to raise money to cover the cost of pointe shoes and other dance expenses.
ScholarshipsSome talented young dancers may receive scholarships from dance schools, organizations, or foundations that include provisions for pointe shoe expenses.
Dancewear DiscountsBallerinas may receive discounts or free pointe shoes from dancewear manufacturers as brand ambassadors or through special arrangements.
Personal SavingsDancers may set aside a portion of their income from performances, teaching, or other jobs to cover the cost of pointe shoes.
Parental SupportYounger ballerinas often receive financial support from their parents or family members to help with the costs of dance equipment.
DonationsSome ballet schools or companies have donation programs where individuals or businesses can contribute funds specifically for pointe shoe purchases.
Second-Hand ShoesSome dancers may opt to use pre-owned pointe shoes or purchase them from other dancers at a lower cost. However, this is less common due to the personalized fit of pointe shoes.

It’s important to note that despite these methods, the cost of pointe shoes can still be a significant financial burden for many dancers. Professional dancers and ballet companies are continuously seeking ways to support their performers and alleviate some of these expenses.

Understanding the Life of a Pointe Shoe

Before diving into the financial aspect, it’s crucial to understand why pointe shoes wear out so rapidly. Pointe shoes, crafted primarily from satin, paper, and glue, bear the full weight of a dancer on a small surface area. As a result, they can degrade after just one performance or after several hours of rehearsal.

1. The Professional Company’s Role

For professional ballerinas affiliated with major ballet companies, the cost is often absorbed by the company itself. These companies have budgets set aside for costumes, sets, and yes, pointe shoes. Here’s how they help:

  • Bulk Ordering: Ballet companies often purchase pointe shoes in bulk, availing of discounts.
  • Sponsorships: Some companies have sponsorship deals with pointe shoe manufacturers, leading to reduced costs or even free supplies in exchange for endorsement.
  • Dancer Stipends: Some dancers receive a pointe shoe allowance as part of their contract, which helps offset the cost.

2. Fundraising and Sponsorship for Individual Dancers

Outside of major companies, dancers often get creative in managing the expense:

  • Adopt-a-Dancer Programs: Fans or patrons can ‘adopt’ a dancer, covering some or all of their annual pointe shoe costs.
  • Crowdfunding: With platforms like GoFundMe or Kickstarter, dancers can reach out to the broader community for support.

3. The Importance of Shoe Maintenance

Ballerinas extend the life of their shoes through various maintenance techniques:

  • Drying Properly: Moisture weakens pointe shoes. Dancers ensure they dry out correctly between uses.
  • Reinforcements: Using shellac or glue can help harden the shoe and extend its life.
  • Rotating Pairs: Using multiple pairs in rotation can allow each pair a “rest period,” potentially extending their usability.

4. The Sacrifices and Hustles

Many ballerinas, especially those in training or not yet affiliated with a major company, make sacrifices:

  • Second Jobs: It’s not uncommon for dancers to take up part-time work to fund their passion.
  • Budgeting: For many dancers, pointe shoes are a priority. This might mean cutting back on other luxuries or non-essentials.
  • Discounts and Deals: Many dancers are always on the lookout for sales, discounts, or deals from manufacturers.

5. Community Support and Ballet Schools

For students, ballet schools sometimes play a role:

  • Scholarships: Some schools offer scholarships that cover not just tuition but also ballet essentials like shoes.
  • Donations: Older dancers or alumni often donate gently used shoes to younger students.

6. The Evolution of Pointe Shoes

Manufacturers are continuously innovating. Today’s pointe shoes are more durable than those from decades past. While this doesn’t eliminate the need for frequent replacements, it certainly helps.


How often do professional ballerinas buy new pointe shoes? Professional ballerinas typically go through multiple pairs of pointe shoes every week or every few weeks, depending on their level of activity and the demands of their performances.

How often do ballet dancers replace pointe shoes? Ballet dancers replace their pointe shoes frequently, sometimes as often as every few days, especially during intense periods of training and performances.

How much do ballerinas spend on pointe shoes? The cost of pointe shoes can vary widely depending on the brand and quality, but professional ballerinas can spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on pointe shoes each year.

Do ballet dancers buy their own shoes? Yes, most ballet dancers, including professionals, buy their own pointe shoes. It is considered a personal piece of dance equipment that needs to be properly fitted to the individual dancer’s feet.

What is the lifespan of a pointe shoe? The lifespan of a pointe shoe varies depending on factors such as the dancer’s weight, the intensity of use, and the quality of the shoe, but on average, a pointe shoe lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.

Do ballerinas get free pointe shoes? While some professional ballerinas may receive free or discounted pointe shoes through sponsorships or company support, many dancers still need to purchase their own shoes, especially in smaller companies or as freelance artists.

What is the lifespan of a ballet dancer? The lifespan of a ballet dancer’s career varies significantly, with some dancers retiring in their 30s or 40s, while others may continue dancing into their 50s or beyond, depending on their physical condition and career opportunities.

What age do most dancers go on pointe? Most dancers begin pointe work between the ages of 11 and 14, although the exact age can vary depending on the dancer’s physical development, strength, and technical ability.

Which brand of pointe shoes last the longest? Different dancers have different preferences, and the durability of pointe shoes can vary depending on the dancer’s technique and foot shape. Some brands known for their durability include Russian Pointe and Gaynor Minden.

Can fat ballerinas go en pointe? Ballerinas of various body types can go en pointe, but it is essential that they have the required strength and technique to support themselves safely on pointe.

Will raising a ballerina cost $100,000? The cost of training and supporting a ballerina can vary widely depending on factors such as the dancer’s age, level of training, and geographic location. While it can be a significant investment, it may not necessarily cost exactly $100,000.

Do male ballerinas wear cups? Yes, male ballet dancers often wear dance belts, which are special undergarments that provide support and protection during performances.

Why do ballerinas wear Uggs? Ballerinas may wear Uggs or similar warm and comfortable boots between rehearsals or performances to keep their feet warm and relaxed.

Are ballet dancers underpaid? Ballet dancers have historically faced challenges with low pay, especially in smaller companies and freelance positions. However, compensation can vary widely depending on the dancer’s level and the company they work for.

What is pancaking in ballet? Pancaking in ballet refers to a technique where dancers use makeup or a special product to color their pointe shoes to match their skin tone, creating a more seamless and elongated line on stage.

What do dead pointe shoes feel like? Dead pointe shoes feel less supportive and less resilient. The box may lose its stiffness, making it harder to maintain balance and execute certain movements.

Do pointe shoes ever stop hurting? While dancers can build up calluses and strengthen their feet over time, pointe work can still be uncomfortable and cause some level of discomfort, especially during intensive training and performances.

Why do pointe shoes wear out so quickly? Pointe shoes wear out quickly due to the pressure and friction they endure during rehearsals and performances, which can cause the materials to break down and lose their support.

Why don’t male ballerinas go on pointe? Male ballet dancers typically don’t go on pointe because traditional ballet choreography and techniques have been developed to highlight the strengths and abilities of male dancers in different ways.

Why do only girls go on pointe? Historically, ballet has been centered around female dancers, and pointe work has been a traditional element of the female ballet vocabulary. However, this perspective is evolving, and some contemporary ballet companies include male dancers on pointe in certain works.

What ballet grade is pointe? Pointe work is typically introduced in ballet training at an intermediate or advanced level, usually around ballet grade 5 or 6, depending on the ballet syllabus used.

What age is too late to learn ballet? It is never too late to start learning ballet. While starting at a young age can be advantageous, adults of any age can still benefit from learning ballet for its physical and artistic benefits.

What age do ballerinas quit? The age at which ballerinas quit dancing can vary widely, depending on personal choices, career opportunities, and physical factors. Some dancers retire in their late 30s or early 40s, while others may continue dancing for longer.

What age is it too late to start ballet? There is no age that is too late to start ballet. Many dance schools offer adult beginner classes, and individuals of all ages can enjoy the physical and artistic benefits of ballet training.

Do boys ever go on pointe? While it is less common, some male ballet dancers may go on pointe for specific roles or choreography that requires it, or for artistic experimentation.

Am I strong enough for pointe test? Determining if a dancer is strong enough for pointe work is best done by a qualified ballet teacher or instructor who can assess the dancer’s strength, technique, and physical readiness.

Is 14 too old to go on pointe? Starting pointe work at 14 is not necessarily too old, but it will depend on the individual dancer’s physical development, technical proficiency, and strength.

Why do pointe shoes cost so much? The cost of pointe shoes is influenced by factors such as the materials used, the craftsmanship required to create the intricate structure, and the demand for specialized dancewear.

What is the most expensive pointe shoe brand? The costliest pointe shoes are often custom-made and can be significantly more expensive than standard models. Brands like Freed of London and Merlet are known for their high-quality and higher-priced pointe shoes.

How do you make dead pointe shoes last longer? To extend the lifespan of dead pointe shoes, some dancers reinforce the shank and box with glue, tape, or shellac to maintain some level of support.

What is the ideal weight for a ballerina? There is no one-size-fits-all ideal weight for ballerinas. Dancers come in various body types, and what is most important is being strong, fit, and healthy.

What is the perfect body type for ballet? Ballet celebrates a range of body types, and there is no singular “perfect” body type for ballet. Different ballet roles and styles may benefit from various body proportions, but diversity is appreciated in the dance world.

What is the average BMI for a ballerina? The average BMI for a ballerina can vary widely, but dancers generally have a lower average BMI than the general population due to their active and physically demanding lifestyle.

Is pointe unhealthy? Pointe work can be physically demanding and put strain on a dancer’s feet and ankles. However, with proper training and technique, it can be done safely and healthily.

Can you be too heavy for pointe? Weight is just one factor in determining a dancer’s readiness for pointe work. It is more about having the appropriate strength, technique, and physical readiness.

Is en pointe the hardest ballet move? En pointe work is challenging and requires significant strength and technique, but there are many other complex and difficult ballet moves that dancers must master.

Is ballet an expensive hobby? Ballet can be an expensive hobby due to the costs of classes, dancewear, pointe shoes, and performance-related expenses. However, it is also possible to find more affordable options and scholarships.

What is a prima ballerina salary? The salary of a prima ballerina can vary widely depending on factors such as the dancer’s level of fame, the size and reputation of the company they work for, and their contract terms. Prima ballerinas in top companies can earn high salaries.

How rare are prima ballerinas? Prima ballerinas are rare and highly accomplished dancers who have reached the pinnacle of their careers. There are only a select few in the ballet world at any given time.


Ballet is a dance form that demands not just physical and emotional dedication but also a financial one. The frequent replacement of pointe shoes is a testament to the intensity and passion of the art form. However, with the combined efforts of ballet companies, individual resourcefulness, community support, and technological advancements, ballerinas continue to grace stages worldwide, making the seemingly impossible task of affording pointe shoes a reality.