Pointe shoes are tied onto the feet using two ribbons, which cross over the foot and then wrap around the ankle. The ribbons, made of pink satin to match the shoes, are part of the traditional look of pointe shoes. Crossing the ribbons and wrapping them around the ankle distributes the “pull” of the shoe so that it is less likely to slip off during pointe work.
Nonetheless, most dancers add elastics to their pointe shoes. The primary purpose of the elastics is to hold the heel more securely to the foot. Some dancers use a single elastic from one side of the heel to the other. Others use double, crisscrossed elastics.
Both ribbons and elastics can be sewn so that, in addition to keeping the shoe in place, they draw it closer to the arch of the foot. Advanced dancers often learn the precise placement of ribbons and elastics that will both keep the shoes secure and highlight the look of the arch during dancing.
Ribbons and elastics must always be sewn to the side of the heel, never on the very back of the heel. Read more to learn how to sew ribbons and elastics onto the pointe shoes, and how to tie ribbons properly.