Pointe shoes are the footwear worn by ballerinas. They make look delicate, but they’re actually very sturdy shoes. Indeed, it is vital that they are because they support and balance the dancer’s entire weight on an area about the size of a small coin. A flattened oval platform at the very tip of the toe is what helps keep a ballerina en pointe.
Typical pointe shoes have a satin upper, a toe box made of paper and burlap stiffened with glue, and a leatherboard or stiff cardboard shank which supports the arch of the dancer’s foot while she is en pointe. This traditional construction of pointe shoes hasn’t changed greatly for 150 years.
Most pointe shoes will only last for a single performance, and as a result the shoe budget for most ballet companies is very high.