Pointe shoe fitting is a process that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. You’ll need a professional’s help to find the right size and model for your dancing level and needs.
The right pair of pointe shoes can make you love or hate pointe work. If you have the wrong size, you’ll risk blisters and discomfort, not to mention injuries and bad habits in your dancing.
Whether it’s your first pointe shoe fitting or you’re more experienced, we’ll go through all you need to know in this article.
Going for a Pointe Shoe Fitting
A pointe shoe can be one of the toughest things to buy because it truly needs to fit like a glove; this is why it’s ideal to do your first fitting at a store, instead of buying shoes online.
Only Go for Pointe When You’re Ready
First things first: only go for a pointe shoes fitting when your teacher has cleared you for dancing en pointe. If you start practicing before your muscles are strong enough, even on your own time outside of class, you’ll risk injury; this could mean it will take even longer to start dancing in pointe shoes.
You shouldn’t try to do pointe if you’re not a ballet dancer, because it can be unsafe for your joints. Check out the best salsa dance shoes and the best shoes for dance cardio to find the best option, depending on your dance style.
Make a Reservation
Many specialized dance stores will take walk-ins for fittings, but you may have to wait for your turn. To avoid this, make sure to check if your store accepts reservations for fittings. Especially as a first-time fitting can easily take up to an hour.
If you don’t have the chance to go to a specialized store for your first pointe shoe fitting, you can search for online fitting services. Canada’s National Ballet School’s, The Shoe Room, is one example of a virtual fitting service for your feet.
These services will include an online questionnaire about your dancing experience, previous pointe shoes, and age. You’ll also need to upload some pictures to see your foot shape. After that, you’ll receive a couple of test pairs and schedule a video call for a virtual pointe shoe fitting with a professional.
Prepare for the Fitting
Trim your toenails and wear your convertible ballet tights when you’re going to a fitting. If it’s not your first fitting, take your old pointe shoes and any other accessories, like toe pads, with you. Ask your teacher if they have any specifics for your dancing level and style to communicate before you fit pointe shoes.
Have an Open Mind
When you go to a pointe shoe fitting, the most important thing is to leave all your preconceived ideas and notions behind.
First of all, pointe shoes are not automatically the same size as your street shoes. A pointe shoe foot size depends not only on the length of your feet when you’re standing, like your street shoes, it also depends on your arch and toes, and how much your heel tucks in when on pointe.
Another notion you should leave behind when you go for a pointe shoe fitting is the brand. Even if everyone in your class wears Russian Pointe, it might not be the right one for you. In pointe shoes, the brand doesn’t matter as much as the fit.
Be Clear About How You Feel
When you’re trying on the shoe, be as clear and specific about how you feel as possible. If there’s pressure on a specific bone or a toes jam uncomfortably onto each other, communicate that to the salesperson.
Make Sure They’re Tight Enough
Your pointe shoes should be snug, but not painfully tight. Contrary to other shoes, you shouldn’t leave room for growth when shopping for pointe shoes.
A pointe shoe that’s too big is a security risk, on top of the potential of giving you blisters. If your toes are sliding around in the shoe, you also won’t learn proper technique. You might end up compensating for the extra space by forming some bad habits that will be hard to correct.
Find the Correct Profile
If your toenails point slightly upwards or you have a taller profile on your feet, you might need a higher profile or a lower one. There are many styles of shoes for all profiles; you just need to be patient to find yours.
Wider Is Not Always Better
If you feel a lot of bunion pressure on the side of your feet, you may think your shoe is too small. The truth is, you could actually be wearing a pointe shoe that’s too wide.
When your feet are not adequately supported, they will move around inside the shoe and put pressure on the wrong spot.
Try Some Positions
When you get up on your toes, you might experience some discomfort. You should not feel pain, numbness, or pinching. When you’re doing a plié, your feet expand. Try this position to make sure you don’t feel too much pressure on your toes or heels.
How Should a Pointe Shoe Fit?
You need your pointe shoes to fit perfectly, but finding the right model and size can take some time and patience. Here are some tips on finding the perfect fit for your pointe shoe.
- Toes: Your toes should lie flat inside a pointe shoe, not on top of each other or jammed. The shoe shouldn’t have any bulge when standing up.
- Profile: There shouldn’t be so much room inside the shoe that your toes will slide around when moving. You should just barely be able to fit the tip of one finger inside the toe box.
- Wings: The wings should go over your big toe joint, but not so far that you’d have trouble transferring from the demi pointe.
- Heel: The heel should go almost all the way up your bone, but not too high to bother you when you’re en pointe.
- Vamp: Pay attention to the front of the shoe, called the vamp; this should be right for your toe length to allow you to work, but your toes shouldn’t fall out of the shoe.
- Shank: Check that the shank is aligned, and your feet are not twisting. Your pointe shoe fitter will help you find the right softness in the shank for your level.
What Is the Best Age To Go on Pointe?
Some dance teachers and experts consider the age of 10 to be right for a dancer to start dancing on pointe. Others prefer to wait until the dancer is 11 or 12, while some only follow the development of the dancer’s ability. Follow the advice of your teacher to make sure your ankles are strong enough to avoid injury.
How Much Does a Pointe Shoe Fitting Cost?
A pointe shoe fitting in a store shouldn’t cost you, but the shoes can cost anything between 50 and 120 dollars. If you don’t have a store nearby, you can hire an online fitting service that starts at about 25 dollars.
How Long Does a Pointe Shoe Fitting Take?
Fitting pointe shoes normally last between 30 and 45 minutes. You should be prepared to spend about an hour and try on 20-40 pairs. You may even have to walk out without a purchase if you don’t find the perfect fitting shoe. Still, it’s better than buying the wrong shoe for you.
How Long Do Pointe Shoes Last?
How long pointe shoes last depends on your style and how much you’re dancing. Russian Pointe shoes, for example, will last 12 to 15 hours. They’ll last about three months if you use them for a class an hour a week. After that, the shank and the platform will soften, and they won’t provide you enough support.
Can Anyone Wear Pointe Shoes?
No, you shouldn’t wear pointe shoes until your teacher has cleared you. The shoes help you dance on pointe, and you can improve your technique to wear them. However, the shoes are not magical. Wearing pointe shoes might feel tough and uncomfortable initially, but you’ll get there with practice and conditioning.
The most important thing about a pointe shoe fitting is taking your time, being patient and listening to your body. Communicate any pain or pressure you feel to the professional fitter as clearly as possible, and let them help you find the right model and size.
Remember that while you might have your eyes set on Russian Pointe or another specific brand, it might not be for you. The correct pointe shoe is the one that fits your feet, your dancing history and level.