Welcome to My Blog!

Welcome to my blog!This is my blog about my science fair project, Pointe Shoe Physics. I am testing the amount of force per square centimeter on a ballet dancer's feet while dancing in pointe shoes. I am also studying how this changes in three different positions. Be sure to check out my report, background information, videos and other cool stuff! My final report and other files can be accessed through the "Documents" link on the right. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


     In this study, I tested the amount of force per square centimeter that is put on a dancer's toes while dancing en pointe. I also tested how this number changes when the dancer is in different positions. My hypothesis was that there would be the most force on a dancer's foot when they are standing on one foot en pointe and that the force would be the least per square centimeter when a dancer is standing flat on two feet.
     To test my hypothesis, I traced seventeen dancers' feet in three different positions ( flat, demi-pointe, and full-pointe). I then measured their weight and converted it to Newtons. Next, I drew polygons on the tracings and found their area. I then used the formula (N/cm^2) to find the amount of force per square centimeter for each of the trials. I conducted fifty-one trials with seventeen test subjects.
     The average force per square centimeter for the two feet flat position was the least and the average for one foot full-pointe was the greatest. The average force for two flat feet was 1.926371 N, which means that it was the position with the least amount of force. The average force on one fool flat was. 3.852742 N. The average force for two feet in the demi-pointe position (ball of the foot) was 5.932413 N. The average force for one foot in demi-pointe 11.86483 N. The average amount of force for one foot in the full-pointe position was 20.4075 N. One foot in the full-pointe position had the most force: 40.81501 N per square centimeter.
     I found that as the area of the position became larger, there was less force per square centimeter. This is because the force is applied to a larger area. That means that there is the least force on flat positions and the most on full-pointe positions. Demi-pointe positions had numbers in between flat and full-pointe. This proved my hypothesis the be correct.


      Dancers are known to "dance through their pain". Because of this, many minor injuries quickly become worse. This information could be used by orthopedic specialists when treating ballet dancers in order to know how much force was repeatedly put on a certain area of the foot.
      Another possible application of this study could be to companies who currently make pointe shoes. Traditional pointe shoes have shanks (pieces of hard material that support the arch) made of materials such as leather, cardboard, and burlap. As the shoes are worn, they become softer. When they become too soft, the shoes do not properly support the dancer and may cause injuries. This can take anywhere from six months to one performance, depending on the material of the shoe and frequency of use.
     Pointe shoes, which are each handmade, range in price from fifty to one hundred dollars a pair. If the shank were made with a more durable material, they would last longer. Materials scientists could use the information found in this study to find or create a material that would be durable enough to last yet pliable and flexible enough for pointe work.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Final Report!

I am almost done with my final report! It will be posted under "Documents". To access it, click on the Documents link on the right.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Testing Complete!

   I have just finished my experiment! Thank you to my 17 test subjects! More information should be coming soon...
Paloma Herrera, ABT Principal

Monday, January 10, 2011

Breaking In the Shoes

     When they are new, the shoes are very hard. There are many methods to “breaking in” pointe shoes, including slamming them in a door and bending the shoe with your hands. Other dancers prefer to break in their shoes by wearing them and bending them with their feet. It is important that the shoes are broken in because broken in shoes form to the dancer’s arch. This helps to support the dancer. However, once they are broken in, the shoes quickly deteriorate. When they are too soft to properly support the dancer, the shoes are referred to as “dead”.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Recording the subject's weight.
 Tracing the subject's foot.
 Tracing the subject's foot in demi-pointe.
 Tracing the subject's foot en pointe
Calculating the area.

Pointe-Related Injuries

         Though beautiful, pointe work is very painful. Many injuries result from the force being put on the feet and toes. These injuries can be minor, such as blisters, or major, such as a broken ankle. Other injuries caused by pointe shoes are bunions, ingrown toenails, tendonitis (commonly in the Achilles tendon) , os trigonum syndrome (associated with flexing the foot), osteoarthritis, and stress fractures. Although nonspecific to pointe shoes, knee and hip injuries may result from forcing turnout and repeated bending of the knees (known as pliĆ©).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Dead" Shoes

As you can tell from the information I am gathering, pointe shoes withstand a lot of force. Eventually, the shoes are too soft to dance in. Dancer's call these shoes "dead". Pointe shoes last anywhere from one performance (such as those of a professional dancer) to a year, depending on the frequency of use and materials.
*Note: I did not take this video*

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Current Observations

Currently, I have conducted fifteen trials of my experiment, and I expect a few more. From what I have collected so far, my results are proving my hypothesis. My current averages are: