Pointe shoes are one of the most defining characteristics of ballet to an audience. While they make dancers look elegant and graceful; they also can be a source of a lot of frustration. Overtime, your feet change and thus your shoe needs to change as well. Here are 6 parts of a pointe shoe to know that your shoe is the right fit.
While on flat, assure that your toes are laying flat within the box. Make sure that your toes are not overlapping each other. Also, make sure you can’t wiggle your toes as this is a sign of too much room. Where the box meets the drawstring, look to see how your foot meets the shoe. Is the skin seeming to bulge out of the box? Is there a gap between the box and foot? The shoe should fit snugly to the foot and create a smooth profile.
The sides of the box are known as wings. The wings should come up past the big-toe joint. If the wings are too short, you will notice while en pointe that the joint bulges out of the side of the shoe which can lead to bunions. If the wings are too long, they will cut into the foot and prevent properly rolling through the shoe.
The vamp of the shoe is the top part of the box. If the vamp is too long, demi-pointe will be painful as the vamp will cut into the top of the foot. If the vamp is too short, it will feel as if you are falling out of the shoe while en pointe. So, make sure that you have the perfect fit that leaves you feeling supported and secure while en pointe.
Like a street shoe, it is important that the length of the shoe is accurate. To make sure you have the right length, check how much fabric is behind the heel while en pointe. There should be only enough fabric to pinch. Excessive length or excessive fabric in the heel cup will result in the shoe popping off the back of the foot. If the length is too short or the heel cup is too short, the fabric will dig into the heel.
The shank, also known as the sole, is very important in supporting the dancer. The shank should run until just past the start of the heel. If the shank is too long or too short, cramping of the foot may occur. Check to make sure that the shank is not twisting while en pointe. If the shank is twisting off of parallel it may be a sign that the box is too narrow.
Elastics and ribbons should hold the shoe on tightly to the foot and prevent any gaps when sewn correctly. When the shoe is not sewn correctly, gaps of material can occur. Additionally, if the elastics are too tight they can cause redness and irritation of the skin.
***Please note that if it is your first time en pointe we recommend going to get your shoes professionally fitted. We also suggest having an instructor tag along with you.