Finding the perfect pointe shoe is a tough task for any dancer, with so many brands and models available, it’s difficult to decide which is best for you and your feet. So we asked Debs, our expert pointe shoe fitter at the Move Dancewear store in Manchester for her top tips when it comes to purchasing the perfect pointe shoes.
What are some of the common mistakes you see dancers make when looking for pointe shoes?
One of the biggest things I notice is dancers who come in to buy pointe shoes and ask for the same brand as their friends. Whilst this may be the ‘cool’ brand such as Bloch at dance school, what is right for one person is not right for another. Some teachers may specify that all students must have the same brand of pointe shoe, but without being fitted you can’t assume all students will suit that particular brand and style.
Some dancers also think that by buying shoes too hard for their feet that the shoes will last longer, which isn’t correct. Sometimes the reason for going through a softer back shoe quickly is due to the student ‘sitting’ in the shoe and not working the feet correctly to build strength up. This can sometimes lead to the shank snapping.
What type of things will you discuss with a customer during a pointe shoe fitting?
There is a list of things I make sure I cover during a pointe shoe fitting to make sure the dancer leaves with the correct pointe shoe for their feet. This includes:
- Discussing any potential problems or past issues with the ankles and feet
- If any protection for the toes and feet, such as toe pads and spacers, may be required
- The wide range of brands and styles of pointe shoes available
- The technical aspects of how the shoe supports the foot and works with the foot
- The best way to care for your feet when starting pointe shoe work
- The best ways to care for your pointe shoes
Does pain inform how well the shoe fits?
Whilst pointe shoes will always be uncomfortable and occasionally a little bit sore, they should never be painful. If there is pain, then there is something wrong!
What advice would you give to get the most out of a pair of pointe shoes?
In order to last, pointe shoes must be broken in correctly. Then between classes and wearing of the pointe shoes, they should be allowed to air out properly. It is a good idea to protect the end of a pointe shoe by either darning them or using stick on protectors, as satin frays quickly and doesn’t give much grip. There are lots of pointe shoe accessories on the market to improve durability.
Finally, what are your main breaking in do’s and don’ts for pointe shoes?
I think it’s most important to break in the shoes naturally by just wearing them, snapping the shank is the worst thing to do. Never let anyone else break them in for you, as they mould to your feet specifically over time. This won’t happen overnight and it’s important to persevere, but you will get there eventually if you do regular exercises in them.
Shop the full range of Pointe Shoes at Move Dancewear.