“Three-Quartering” your pointe shoes is when you remove part of the inner shank of the shoe (typically leaving 3/4 of the shank remaining) in order to help the shoe bend more with the shape of your foot. Before I get into the process of how to do this, if you are a ballet student (aka not a professional), I would highly recommend consulting with your ballet/pointe teacher before doing this to your shoes. While three-quartering yours shoes will likely make your feet look better (more arched) and help you get on top of your shoe platform (the tip) more easily, beginning pointe students typically need the resistance of the whole shank to help them develop the strength needed in the feet.
Ok, so to “three-quarter” your shoes, you will need the following items:
- Pointe Shoes
- Strong scissors or a box cutter/razor
- Ink pen or pencil
The first thing you need to do before you start cutting up your shoe is figure out where exactly you should cut the shank to best hug your foot and show off your arch. Fold the top half of the shoe back and put the shoe on your foot. With a pen or pencil, mark where in the shoe the shank hits the part of your arch/instep where it connects to your heel (see photo below). The idea is that when the shoes are “three-quartered,” the shank will sit up into your heel allowing the shoe to bend more easily with your foot. Next, before you start cutting, peel back the top layer/cover of the shank (only as far as you plan to cut). This is the fabric part that usually says the brand name of the shoe (in the case of my shoes, it has the Freed logo). It should come up pretty easily, but there are some brands of shoes where it is glued down more securely, so it might take some more effort to peel it back.
Now before you start cutting, you need to “pop” the nail that connects the inner shank to the rest of the shoe (see photo below). To pop the nail, you need to try to separate the shank from the shoe by pulling them apart with your hands (Freeds separate relatively easily, but some shoes are glued more securely). Then you will take your box cutter/razor (or strong scissors also can work) and cut along the shank where you marked it with a pen.
In some shoes (such as my Freeds) there is an additional part of the shank that is skinnier and underneath the main larger shank that you can cut out, too (again, see photos).
Now when you put your shoe back on your foot, you should see that the shank sits nicely in your instep up against the heel.
And ta-da! That’s it. After I “three-quarter” my shoes, I always take needle and thread and sew the fabric layer of the shank back down so that it doesn’t get all rolled up under my foot while I dance.