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COMPANY HISTORY

Gaynor Minden opened its doors in New York City in 1993, having outgrown its first home in John and Eliza Minden’s small Manhattan apartment. We had one part-time employee and one product: the patented pointe shoe that Eliza Minden had developed over the preceding eight years — the first successful modernization of ballet’s iconic footwear.

Pointe Shoes

Today Gaynor Minden is a global brand, available at hundreds of dance-specialty stores nation-wide as well as through numerous overseas distributors. While still very much a family business, we have offices on three continents and at last count we ship to 85 countries and over 200 professional companies. Gaynor Mindens are used at almost every major ballet company in the world including American Ballet Theatre, England’s Royal Ballet, The Paris Opera Ballet, The Bolshoi Ballet, The Mariinsky Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet, The Dutch National Ballet, The San Francisco, Houston, and Boston Ballets… to name just a few.

The original Gaynor Mindens had stiff shanks and were available with only a few fitting choices. We now offer a greatly expanded range of options including ultra-flexible shanks and boxes, a narrow-heeled style for the sleekest possible fit, longer sizes for today’s bigger feet, built-in suede tips for extra durability, and shades of brown as well as pink satin — all for stock shoes. In addition we offer extensive additional customization by special order.

In 2020 our pointe shoe production moved from the United States to Europe. Just like our original Massachusetts factory, our new factory in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a family business that blends tradition with innovation. Our pointe shoes still use exactly the same American-made, high-tech internal components — all have our flexible shanks and boxes and Poron® Performance Cushioning. And all Gaynor Minden pointe shoes are handmade by skilled shoemakers using time honored techniques.

Apparel and accessories

Gaynor Minden began producing leotards in the late 1990’s, in a handful of distinctive styles that were markedly dressier and more fashion-inspired than typical studio wear; today even our basic styles are still distinguished by unique details.

Our apparel also includes a popular line of microfiber tights, rehearsal tutus, and innovative warm-ups that bring fabrics such as lightweight MicroTech and Italian knitwear to practice clothing.

We make several popular dance bags, training aids, and unusual accessories, too. Inspired by sport-science research and the tools of physical therapy, our training aids were designed just for dancers. Our popular dance bags sell out every season, and help dancers stay organized in style.

Acceptance in the Ballet World

Enthusiasm, skepticism, gratitude, suspicion — the initial reaction to Gaynor Minden was mixed, not surprising given ballet’s traditionalism. (There was a scandal the first time a ballerina wore a tutu on stage.) Fortunately, early adopters and influential teachers encouraged other dancers to try them. Dancer feedback led to the development of many additional fitting options, and to this day we still work closely with dancers and teachers as we update and improve our products.

Ballet’s traditions are part of what make it so wonderful; being conservative has helped ballet preserve its greatness. But ballet has often been reluctant to acknowledge the athletic needs of its amazing artists, whose job it is to conceal athleticism under a serene smile and who understandably do not want their art to become a sport. Unlike sports equipment, where innovation is constant and welcome, ballet “equipment” has been slow and resistant to change.

Gaynor Mindens became controversial almost as soon as they became successful; Eliza Minden was pictured as Satan on a Facebook page; one of our competitors accused us of being a CIA plot intended to destroy Russian ballet; they were dubbed “Cheater Shoes”. (Any overly stiff pointe shoe can allow the dancer to “cheat” and not work her muscles correctly but unlike traditional pointe shoes, Gaynor Mindens do not soften with use. In fairness to dancers who have found Gaynor Mindens too stiff, you may not have tried our more pliable styles because not all stores carry them. Also, dancers accustomed to breaking in traditional shoes sometimes insist on a very stiff Gaynor Minden, not understanding that, in our case, durability is not a function of hardness.)

The Gaynor Minden
AMBASSADOR program

We realized that no advertisement is as eloquent as the example of a great dancer moving beautifully in our shoes, so we created the Gaynor Minden Icon and Artist programs. Gaynor Minden Icons and Artists dance at the world’s greatest companies; they have chosen to wear Gaynor Minden exclusively, and have used them for at least a year before being invited to participate. They receive a small honorarium but we never pay dancers to wear our shoes. Their endorsements and images — usually in striking live performance photographs — appear in posters and our award-winning print advertisements.

We were among the earliest users of the Internet (that’s how we got dancer.com for our domain name) and we pioneered online fitting, enabling us to serve dancers who live far from a dancewear store. But we also still travel extensively — from Japan to Panama to Siberia — to personally visit stores, schools, and companies.

Veronika Verterich
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What We Believe

OUR MISSION

We help dancers thrive.

Dancers are artists who deserve no less than the very best that human intelligence and imagination can deliver. To best serve dancers, it is essential to recognize that they are athletes as well as artists, and that the dancer’s body is her instrument. Gaynor Minden dedicates itself to creating and producing products that respect the instrument, benefit the artist, and enhance the art.

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