The Importance of Buying Good Quality Pointe Shoes

The pointe shoe is a type of shoe designed specifically for the ballet dancer. It allows them to stand on the tips of their toes – or en pointe – for a prolonged period of time. The effect is that the ballet dancer appears to move around the performance space as though weightless. Though they are largely worn by female dancers, they are occasionally worn by male performers in roles such as the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

As all dancer’s feet are unique, there is no standard design for the pointe shoe and most manufacturers produce several models. Features of the dancer’s feet that may vary include the length and shape of their toes, flexibility of the arch, and the mechanical strength of the foot. However, all pointe shoes share the same two internal structural features. These are the “box” and the “shank”. The box is a hard enclosed space at the end of the shoe which is designed to support the dancer’s toes. The end of the box is flattened to create a platform which enables the dancer to stand en pointe. The shank is a rigid piece of material which provides support for the arch when the foot is en pointe.

It’s very important for the pointe shoe to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye so its exterior is covered with fabric. This is almost always satin but can very occasionally by canvas though this is extremely rare. Unlike other styles of dance shoes such as soft ballet shoes, jazz shoes or dance sneakers, pointe shoes are generally only available in flesh colours. This is so that the dancer almost appears as though they are performing barefoot.

A student may use demi-pointe shoes to help with the transition from soft ballet shoes. This is because they have the characteristics of both soft ballet shoes and pointe shoes. The untrained eye may find it difficult to see the difference but there are several. Though the outer of the shoe much resembles a pointe shoe, the toe box is softer and the sides of the toe box (or wings) or not usually as deep. Furthermore, demi-pointe shoes have no shank which means they do not provide the required support for pointe work. As a result, dance teachers often strongly advise of the dangers of standing en-pointe in this type of shoe. As well as helping students make the transition, demi-pointe shoes are occasionally used for performances which require the appearance of pointe shoes but no pointe work is performed.

It’s important for the dancer to ensure they have the correct fit for their pointe shoes. It’s also advisable to ensure that they are supplied by a reputable manufacturer such as Bloch or Freed of London. An ill fitting or poor quality pair can cause lasting and irreparable damage to the foot. If you are replacing a pair of pointe shoes and know exactly what size you need, there are many online specialist dance shops which can offer excellent prices so it’s a good idea to shop around for the best deal.

Click here for pointe shoes

Click here for ballet shoes