& Teachers > Teacher FAQ
are Gaynor Mindens more expensive?
Actually, Gaynor Mindens cost less to use than other brands because they
last an average of 3 to 5 times longer. If you protect the satin tips,
you can expect even more durability.
Minden is the only pointe shoe with resilient elastomerics in the parts
of the shoe that provide support: the shank and the box. Most other pointe
shoes have a paste and paper construction for the shank and box, as they
have since the 19th Century. You can break such a shank in your bare hands;
you cannot break or weaken a Gaynor Minden no matter how much you bend
it - go ahead and try!
are more costly than paper and paste. Also, Gaynor Minden is the only
pointe shoe with high performance impact-absorbing urethane foam built
right into the shoe - the same kind of cushioning found in the very finest
athletic shoes. Our design is patented; only Gaynor Minden offers the
durability of elastomerics and the comfort and quietness of high-tech
shock absorbing foams.
Gaynor Minden pointe shoes are hand made in the United States. If you
examine the stitching and workmanship we think you will agree that our
quality and consistency are unequaled. It is more expensive to manufacture
in America, but the result is a superior product.
Why is an elastomeric box better?
In addition to being more economical to use, Gaynor Minden is superior
in promoting correct alignment. A 1997 study at the Biomechanics Laboratory
at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst reported that even highly
trained dancers were better aligned in Gaynor Mindens than in traditionally
made pointe shoes. Proper alignment is essential for good technique, correct
muscular development and for protecting the joints from injury.
an elastomeric shank better?
It never breaks or weakens. Many dancers must use a hard shank in the
traditional cardboard/paste pointe shoes because they break down more
rapidly. With Gaynor Minden they can wear a more supple shank and enjoy
the benefits of a lighter, more flexible shoe without compromising support.
is shock absorption important?
Many dancers' woes, whether mild aches or serious stress fractures, are
caused by the traumatic impact of jumping on hard surfaces. Many dance
floors are not resilient. Many are made from wood or linoleum laid directly
on top of concrete. Also, most theaters in the world were built for opera
or drama, not dance.
Why do doctors recommend Gaynor Minden?
recommend Gaynor Minden for the following reasons: It is the only pointe
shoe with an elastomeric toe box. This box will not deform with use; it
therefore promotes correct and safer
alignment. It is the only pointe shoe with built-in shock absorption
made from the most advanced cellular urethane foam. It is the only pointe
shoe with an unbreakable shank insuring consistent, reliable support.
and professional dancers frequently suffer ankle injuries, stress fractures
and tendinitis. Gaynor Minden is attempting to minimize such injuries
by using the most advanced materials and design concepts with the guidance
of dance medicine experts.
Why is proper alignment so important?
Every good ballet teacher tells her students not to "sickle" (a lateral
misalignment of the ankle). Not only is this proper technique, it is safer
technique. When the body is correctly aligned, it does not place undue
stress on the joints but even two degrees of misalignment can place potentially
injurious forces on the ankle. These forces increase enormously with vigorous
dancing (momentum). Misalignment can also cause the leg muscles to develop
in an incorrect and unattractive way. Laboratory studies report that dancers
are more correctly aligned in Gaynor Mindens than in ordinary pointe shoes.
shoe can make ballet easy, painless or risk free, but Gaynor Minden is
the only pointe shoe with high-quality urethane shock absorbing foam built
into the shoe (not cheap latex cushioning). Our cushions are made from
Rogers Corporation's Poron 4000® which carries the American Podiatric
Association's Seal of Acceptance.
If Gaynor Mindens never weaken or soften, how do I break them in?
Good news: you don't. They are ready for dancing now. You must, however,
be sure to select a shank that is flexible enough. Dancers who are accustomed
to cardboard and paste shanks are usually concerned with finding a shoe
that is hard because they know how rapidly conventional construction softens.
Keep in mind that Gaynor Mindens will not break in and be sure you are
satisfied with the roll-through and flexibility of the shoe when it is
new. Ask about Supple, Feather Flex and Pianissimo shanks if you need
a more flexible shoe.
Are Gaynor Mindens suitable for beginners?
Definitely. What's important is that the shoe fit very well and that the
stiffness of the shank and box be appropriate for the dancer's strength
and size. Gaynor Mindens come in five different stiffnesses.
are especially beneficial for beginners because they promote proper alignment
and correct technique. They minimize "sickling" and "winging", bad habits
that can lead to injury. (See Question #2)
Gaynor Mindens are lined with soft, cushy materials. They are very comfortable.
Painful pointe shoes can be so discouraging that many girls stop enjoying
ballet class and give it up altogether. Yes, ballet is hard and sometimes
painful but a great deal of the discomfort associated with pointework
Are they suitable for professionals?
Yes. Most professionals who use Gaynor Mindens prefer the supple Feather
Flex or Pianissimo shanks for maximum responsiveness. Gaynor Minden will
adjust the sides, vamp or heel by special order if necessary. Dancers
wear Gaynor Minden at major companies such as The Joffrey Ballet, Pacific
Northwest Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Houston Ballet, Ohio Ballet, Hartford
Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Den Norske Opera Ballet, Les Grand Ballet
Canadiens to name just a few.
Can I use a blowdrier to soften Gaynor Mindens?
No. Heat forming with a blowdrier will temporarily soften the shank and
box, long enough for you to adjust the shape of the box, or the place
where the shank bends, or the degree to which it bends. The softening
is only temporary; the shoe will regain its stiffness in the new shape
when it returns to room temperature.
If a dancer breaks shanks easily, should she wear Gaynor Minden's Hard
Not necessarily. Our shanks are unbreakable, the Extra Flex provides plenty
of support for most dancers. Our Hard Shank is extremely stiff, appropriate
only for dancers who have very high insteps, or require extra support
for some other reason.
I'm afraid that an unbreakable shank might "do the work for me" and
let my muscles grow weak. Is this possible?
An overly stiff shank of any brand could do this. If you feel that you
are not being made to pull up out of the shoe, try a softer shank. Ask
your fitter about Supple, Feather Flex and Pianissimo shanks. Remember,
individual needs vary; that's why we offer five different shanks.
If these shoes are so durable, why do I need to protect the tips?
Ballet tradition demands that pointe shoes be made from pink satin. Satin
is delicate and vulnerable to abrasion. Although the inside of a Gaynor
Minden is high-tech, its outside appearance honors the traditional aesthetic.
We recommend two coats of Duco-Cement® on the stitching around the
tip, reapplied after every few classes or a layer of moleskin glued over
the entire platform and stitching to prolong the life of the shoe.
Why do we need these extra cushions?
Every foot is different, and lots of feet are not perfectly suited for
pointework. Gaynor Minden has made it possible for many people to enjoy
ballet dancing, even those with "difficult feet". Many dancers have anatomical
structures that make pointe shoe fitting especially challenging. Compressible
metatarsals, narrow heels, tapered toes, long second toes, bunions, a
large space between the first two toes, sensitive toe nails - all can
make it difficult to achieve a good fit.
problems can be solved with the right arrangement of cushions and liners
inside the toe box. For example, dancers with compressible metatarsals
slide too easily down into the toe box and suffer pain and pressure on
the big toe. For them a Gaynor Minden box liner can provide instant relief.
system uses ultra-thin urethane foams that do not compromise either floor
feel or a snug fit. They are shaped exactly for the part of the foot that
In the past,
dancers were told to suffer patiently until their feet toughened or to
use lambs wool to ease the pain. Lambs wool is soft but it lacks the dynamic
qualities that provide real shock absorption and a customized fit. Now,
thanks to advances in technology, there are much better solutions.
Should pointe shoes be fitted with room to grow?
Never! A shoe that is too big, especially a shoe that is too wide at the
ball of the foot, cannot provide proper support. Inadequate support could
cause severe pain and serious injury. Please note: Gaynor Mindens are
fitted differently from other brands because our elastomeric boxes do
not deteriorate and our satin stretches only slightly. It is important
to be able to pinch 1/4" at the heel of a Gaynor Minden when en pointe
for these reasons. However, the fit around the ball of the foot should
pointe shoes should generally be fit very tight; why must Gaynor Mindens
be fit with 1/4" pinch at the top of the heel when en pointe?
Because they are made from advanced materials Gaynor Mindens will not
stretch or deteriorate the way traditional pointe shoes do. The tight
fit of a traditional shoe anticipates stretching out and "mushing in".
Our satin does not stretch the way other satin does. Be sure your fitter
shows you how to achieve a sleek fit in your Gaynor Mindens, using heel
grippers if necessary. Do not fit Gaynor Mindens as if you were fitting
a traditional pointe shoe; bruised toenails could result from fitting
the shoe too short.