Demi Pointe Shoes
I'm often asked why I don't mention demi pointe shoes on this site. Frankly, it's because they're too controversial and I just know I'd get into an argument about them!
My own view is that they're unnecessary, and can even be damaging if used incorrectly. Don't get me wrong - with the right teacher, used with care, they can help strengthen the feet. These days, soft ballet shoes are made with very soft soles - or split soles - which allow you to point your toe as easily as if you had bare feet. So the demi-pointe, with its full leather sole, creates extra resistance that makes you work much harder to get that beautiful point, and that's got to be a good thing.
However, if a teacher puts a student straight into demi-pointe shoes from day 1 of pre-pointe, they can do more harm than good IMO.
The big problem with demi-pointes is that they hide the toes. How do you know if they're curled or straight inside that block? Before you start pointe, it's vital to be sure you're extending your toes correctly, using the right muscles. If the right technique isn't established first, then the demi-pointe shoe won't correct you: you'll just keep using the wrong muscles harder, because the demi-pointe shoe is resisting. Result - injuries.
Here's what Lisa Howells has to say on the subject:
I know some schools and examining bodies insist on demi-pointe shoes - am I being too cynical when I wonder if it's a revenue-raiser? If that affects you, then you have to live with it - but please do make sure your technique is correct and don't expect the shoes to teach you how to extend your foot en pointe.
This video tells you how to make demi-pointe shoes by de-shanking old pointe shoes, which has two benefits: one is that you get used to working with your usual shoes, and the other is that it can be a real money-saver.