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All Pointe Shoes are not Created Equal: Important Tips to Help you Find the Right Pointe Shoe

There are many important points to consider when purchasing your Pointe Shoes. It is essential to find the right shoe that provides the proper fit, support, and comfort.

Dancing On Pointe
Dancing in pointe shoes requires a lot of strength and years of training. To avoid injury, it is recommended that you do not try to dance in pointe shoes if you have not been properly trained in ballet. Also, you should not purchase pointe shoes until you have been instructed to do so by your teacher.

Pointe shoes do not come with the elastic and ribbons sewn on. In most cases, these items are sold separately. Before applying the elastic and ribbons, let your teacher check the fit of the shoe. Once the ribbons and elastic is sewn on, pointe shoes cannot be returned.

Structure Makes a Difference
Pointe shoes consist of many different parts, all of which are fundamental in how the shoe fits. When trying to find the right pointe shoe, consider these very important terms in making your choice:

  • Box: the front, wide part of the pointe shoe
    The box can be either wide or tapered. A tapered box is narrower toward the tip of the shoe and gets wider as it approaches the drawstring. Shoes with a tapered box are good for dancers whose toes decrease in length from the big toe to the pinky toe. Shoes with a wider box are great for dancers whose toes are all close to the same length.

  • Vamp: the top part of the pointe shoe, which is a continuation of the box
    Vamps can either be “V” shaped or “U” shaped. “V” shaped vamps are usually longer, which gives the foot a little extra support.

  • Shank: the “spine” of the pointe shoe
    The shank is the part of the shoe that must be “broken in.” The shank provides arch support in the shoe. Shanks come in different strengths: hard, medium, and soft. Most beginner pointe dancers should get medium or hard shanks to build strength in their arches.

  • Platform: the flat end of the box that you relevee onto

  • Throat: the open area where the foot fits into the shoe

    Find the Perfect Fit

    Pointe shoes must have an exact fit on the foot, almost like a sock. In order to get the correct fit, consider the following tips:

  • There are many different brands of pointe shoes to choose from; all are made differently to fit different types of feet. Do not buy a certain style of pointe shoe just because your friend has them. Try to find the style that is comfortable and fits your foot best.

  • The sizing of pointe shoes is usually different from the sizing of street shoes. Some brands of pointe shoes run smaller than street shoes while other brands run larger than street shoes.

  • If purchasing pointe shoes online, most websites offer size charts that compare the size of the pointe shoe to the size of a street shoe.

  • If purchasing pointe shoes from a store, it is best to let the employee measure your foot, or tell the employee the size of your street shoe.

  • When standing normally in pointe shoes, toes should reach the end of the shoe, but should not be crunched, bent, or overlapped. If toes are crunched or bent, try the next size up. If toes are overlapping each other, try a wider width or a shoe with a wider box.

  • When standing in relevee, there should only be a thumb’s width of pinch at the heel of the shoe.

  • Make sure to pull and tie the drawstring so that the shoe is as tight as it can be. This will help keep the shoe from slipping off.


    About the Author: Alexandra Barbier has worked at Pampo’s Dance & Swim for three years and has served as a Pampo’s manager for two years. An experienced dancer for 15 years, she has spent the majority of her dance training was with the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre where she studied ballet and pointe and performed as a company member in their production of The Nutcracker. She also performed in two musicals with the Baton Rouge Little Theatre, danced with Of Moving Colors modern dance company, and was a member of her high school dance team. Alexandra currently attends LSU where she is majoring in apparel design and hopes to become a costume designer.




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