How do I buy the correct Pointe shoe?

Students can’t wait to purchase their first pair of pointe’ shoes, it is one of those special mile markers in a dancer’s life. It is best for the student who is buying their first pair of pointe shoes to go to a reputable dance store that has experience in fitting pointe’ shoes. Pointe’ shoes are never to be bought online by the first time student, and when possible it can be beneficial to have the student’s teacher accompany them to fit the shoe. The fit is crucial and can never be bought with the idea the student will grow into the shoe. It must fit when properly when purchased. Pointe’ shoes are an extension for the foot and provide stability by the proper fit. I recommend your teacher should always check the shoe prior to sewing on the ribbons. Once ribbons are attached to the shoes they will not be returnable.

Besides a proper fit, the teacher will also be looking at the shape of the shoe and the strength of the shank, the shank is the sole of the shoe. Every student is not alike. It is best to purchase the shoe that is best suited to that particular student’s foot. When I was younger there were not as many types of pointe’ shoes to choose from, but today there are many different brands and styles. I have found it best for a student to buy a pair of shoes made with natural materials rather than synthetic materials. Shoes with the natural materials will shape to the students foot better. During use the foot heats up the natural materials in the shoe, which allows the shoe to form to the foot. These types of shoes also require students to use the strength of their core and the muscles in the foot to get up onto the box of the shoe rather than the shoe doing the work. There are pointe’ shoes made with synthetic material that may cost more, last longer, and are easier for the student to get up on pointe, but ultimately the shoe does the student a disservice by hindering the progression of their technique. The student will find they may be able to get on pointe’ easier but the muscle on the bottom of the foot does not get stronger and coming down from pointe will result in a clunky descent. My opinion is that anyone can get up on pointe shoes, coming down requires proper technique.

Written by Pointe’ expert and former Northland School of Dance instructor, Karen Rivet Paulson