To darn or not to darn, that is the question. I started darning my pointe shoes back in 2012. (I think) I never, ever darned my shoes while I was at school. I trained at the School of American Ballet in New York City where it is an extremely uncommon thing to do. It never even crossed my mind.
Once I was in Denmark for a few years, I became curious about one of our principal ballerinas that always darned her shoes. I asked her all the questions that you are probably asking yourself right now.
–Does it really help?
-Does it make your shoes last longer?
-Is it true that it can help your balance?
-How long does it really take?
–Is it really worth the effort?
She swore by it for herself and told me to just try it out. I tried it and never stopped. Now, I hate wearing a pair of pointe shoes that haven’t been darned.
Here are my answers to the questions above. I hope it helps you!
Does it really help?
Yes! I can feel so much more in my shoe. The darning makes it so it is more difficult to roll over the front of my pointe shoes. Meaning, that I can now feel where the end of the platform is on my shoe when I stand on pointe. I can easily feel when to hold back or maintain my position.
Does it make your shoes last longer?
Yes! It eliminates the possibility of your shoes going soft at the tip/ top part of the shoe towards the vamp. TIP: I add HotStuff or JetGlue to the top part of my darning. The glue keeps the thread from falling down. See below.
Is it true it can help your balance?
Yes! Because you can feel more in your shoes, it allows you to feel the entire platform that you are standing on. You will learn to know exactly where to balance.
How long does it really take?
If I am fully concentrated and I have all my supplies, I can do both shoes in 45 minutes. Realistically, I’m darning my shoes while I watch something on TV. 🙂 That easily adds an additional 15 minutes. I say, it takes 1 hour per pair of pointe shoes.
Would you really say it’s worth the effort?
Yes! I really like it. The best combination is soft and darned shoes, in my opinion. That is ballerina heaven for me. I wouldn’t make the darning too big even though it can be tempting. Stay away from “bigger is better.” If the darning becomes too large it can be very noticeable from stage and not the most elegant.
Confession: Sometimes, I wish that I had never started because it is a big, time consuming effort. It is very, very possible to dance wonderfully without it.
WARNING: Darning is like the Pringles saying, “Once you pop, the fun don’t stop.” Except it would go, “Once you darn, you just can’t stop.”