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Parents & Teachers > Teacher FAQ


Why 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.

How? Gaynor 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!

Elastomerics 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.

Finally, 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.

Why is 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.

Why 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?

Doctors 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.

Advanced 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.

No pointe 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.

Gaynor Mindens 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)

Finally, 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 is preventable.

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 Shank?
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.

All these 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.

Gaynor Minden's 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 needs help.

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 be snug.

Other 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.