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How to Find the Perfect Pointe Shoe

Finding pointe shoes can be one of the most frustrating things ballerinas face. You need your shoe to be perfect to be able to dance your best. And with so many options out there, it’s hard to even start sorting through the seemingly endless offerings. Here’s a brief guide to finding the perfect pointe shoe. You should get fitted professionally at least once. The fitter will help you figure out the basic shape of your foot. The width of your foot, height of your arch and shape of your toes all affect what shoes will be best for you. If your toes taper (your foot is narrower at the tips of your toes than at your metatarsals), you will need the shoe to follow that line. If your feet are square, you will need a squarer shape to the box (the part of your shoe around your toes). There are many pointe shoe manufacturers out there. Each one has slightly different models and construction methods. You might have to try on several different companies’ shoes to find one that works for you. Here are some readily available options.

Even for professionals, finding the perfect pointe shoe is key to dancing your best.
Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images
  • Best shoes for flat feet. If you don’t have a high or strong arch, you will want to look for a shoe with a softer shank(the bottom of the shoe that supports you on pointe) so that you can easily roll onto pointe and maximize the look of your arch. While most shoes come in a variety of shank strengths, some brands tend to be more suitable. Gaynor Mindens offer extremely soft but unbreakable shanks. However, they can be hard to break in because of the construction. Another option is the Grishko 2007, which has a ¾ shank to help you roll onto pointe. If you want a full shank, Freed Studios offer a quick break-in time and enhance the look of your foot on pointe.
  • Best shoes for high arches.Many dancers with high arches tend to “go over,” or find that they are dancing over the tip of their shoe. If that sounds like you, you need to look for a stronger shank and/or a higher vamp. One good option is Russian Pointe. Their shoes tend to have a stronger shank, and you can order a custom vamp. The Sapfir is especially designed for dancers with higher arches. The Bloch Signature Rehearsal offers a larger tip for more stability for dancers with strong feet. The Capezio Glisse offers a flattened crown for a sleeker fit and less pressure on your feet.
  • Best shoes for beginners. Of course, your individual foot type plays the biggest part in what shoes you should be wearing. But, for a first pair, there are some general things to look for. The shoe shouldn’t be so easy to roll through that your feet don’t have to work or so hard that you have a hard time getting the whole tip of the shoe on the floor when you’re on pointe. The Bloch Aspiration has a harder box to make getting onto pointe easier. If you want a bigger tip for easier balance, Sansha’s Recital shoe is a good choice. The more flexible Chacott Veronese II is a good pick if you have weaker feet.

This guide should give you some ideas to start finding the perfect shoe. Remember, as your needs evolve over time, you may need to change shoes. Talk to your teacher if you feel like you current shoes aren’t working well. Disclaimer: I was not paid or compensated in any way by any of the pointe shoe manufacturers or dancewear suppliers.