As a ballet dancer you know that it is crucial to fit your pointe shoes properly. This will help you perform to the best of your ability, and will also prevent you from getting injured which can happen so easily in the wrong shoes or ill fitting shoes.
When you start ballet dancing, you will wear comfortable ballet slippers. These are normally a full sole, but you also get shoes that have a split sole. Most people prefer the full soled shoe, as they say it get you used to the shank of a pointe shoe and that they provide more support, but this point has much debate surrounding it.
The split sole is popular amongst experienced dancers, as they show the shape of the foot better and make the foot look more attractive.
The best way to buy ballet slippers and pointe shoes is to fit them on personally. Sizing is different on different makes of shoes, and can even vary between leather and canvass shoes. In most cases, your ballet shoe size will be 2 or 3 sizes smaller than your street shoe, as ballet shoes are meant to fit your feet like gloves.
If buying shoes for a growing child it is tempting to buy shoes that are a little big, but this is not recommended, as a ballet shoe that doesn’t fit properly can be dangerous. Most ballet shoes wear out with a few months of use anyway and will need to be replaced regularly.
When fitting your soft shoe, make sure that you can stand flat in them without the toes curling under, although there must be no extra room. When you point your foot, the heel must not slip off, and there shouldn’t be a gap between your arch and the inside of the shoe.
Pointe Shoes are a different kettle of fish to fit altogether. The shank of the shoe is usually available in different levels of stiffness. If you need more support, you will need a stiffer shank. You will also need to look at the vamp of the shoe. For instance, if you have long toes or a highly arched foot, you will need a longer vamp. When you go and fit your pointe shoes, there should be somebody qualified there to help you to make the best choice. The shoe must also fit snugly and not allow too much movement in the toe area. Again, your toes mustn’t be squashed together. When you plie in the pointe shoe, the shoe should not come off at the heel. If you have tendonitis, you must order some elasticized ribbon for extra support.
Unfortunately most pointe shoes do not last very long, as body heat and perspiration break down soften the shoes. As soon as they are not supporting you anymore, it is time for a new pair.
One last tip – when shopping for pointe shoes, never rush. Take your time and try on many pairs. Take your ballet tights with you, to get the right fit. Ask your teacher for recommendations on the fitting and type of pointe shoe that would be best for you.