A demi pointe shoe is also known as a soft block or pre-pointe shoe and is made of a similar construction. From the outside appearance it resembles a regular pointe shoe, but the box is softer. The demi pointe box is made of 4 layers of fabric compared to the 6 used in a pointe shoe; it also has slightly smaller, softer wings with a smaller platform. The most important difference is that the demi pointe has a leather sole, a thinner inner sole but no shank. Therefore, a demi pointe shoe gives NO support for going on pointe and is extremely dangerous to attempt.
Using a demi pointe will improve your balance, strengthen your ankle muscles and work those important arch (intrinsic) muscles that are very necessary for Pointe work. The muscles in the foot itself are “intrinsic” foot muscles, meaning they work from inside the foot.
The constant rising up onto demi Pointe during a class in demi pointe shoes will help build strength in the feet and ankles.
This is a great way for the feet to get used to the feel of a pointe shoe as they will be working in the same confined space.
In my experience of fitting pointe shoes, dancers who have worked in demi pointes find the transition to pointe shoes very much easier. I also recommend them to dancers who are not quite ready to advance to pointe work,to use them for 3-6 months. Balancing in demi pointe is so much harder owing to the resistance of the leather sole, the thicker inner sole and vamp. You will be able to feel the muscles of your feet working hard in these shoes. Many dancers continue to use demi pointe shoes for their class even when they have progressed to pointe shoes.
Dancers will also de-shank their old pointe shoes by ripping out the inner sole once they have become too soft, thus making a demi pointe shoe.
Using these shoes will give your feet and ankle muscles a fabulous workout, strengthening them in a way that no soft ballet shoe could ever do.