After students have worked hard enough to pass their pre-pointe assessments it is time to find their first pair of pointe shoes. It can be hard to navigate this as a beginner as there are so many different types of shoes to choose from. Different types of shoes are suited to different dancers depending on their experience level, how many hours they spend doing pointe work, foot shape, width, arch and mobility. Most shoes allow the dancer to ‘work in’ to soften the shoe over time and as a beginner this allows the dancer to gain more strength throughout this process. It also means that there comes a time where the shoe is too soft or “dead” to be used and it is time to purchase a new pair.
We advise that all dances have a proper pre-pointe assessment with a dance physiotherapist and once they have passed and the physio deems the dancer ready to commence pointe they organise an in-store pointe shoe fitting. This ensures that the dancer has attained the proper strength, control and mobility needed to have a safe transition onto pointe, thereby minimising the risk of injuries associated with pointe work.
Here is a little info about the different brands of pointe shoes…
We recommend a good place for most young dancers to start. As dance physios we often recommend dancers start with their first pointe shoe fitting at
a Bloch store. Bloch has a wide variety of shoes to choose from for all different feet. We find that lots of dancers are able to find a good fi
rst pair of pointe shoes at Bloch.
As young dancers progress with their ballet and need multiple pairs of shoes then usually dancers explore different types of Bloch shoes or other brands of pointe shoes that can be more specific to the individual foot and the dancer’s needs. Sometimes unfortunately as the student starts to train in their new pointe shoes they can find that they are not always the right fit or are in need of some foam, lambs wool, toe spacers or other adjuncts to optimise the fit of the pointe shoe for the individual.
At Inspired, our physios are equipped to help dancers with ensuring their pointe shoes are a good fit and can prescribe any of these adjuncts that may be needed to help with pointe shoe comfort and optimal fit.
Usually suited to those with a wider foot. Usually, these shoes are more on the stiff side and so can last a little longer. Their shoes have narrow heels, wider metatarsals and tapered toes.
Have a new range of pointe shoes with advanced technology. The shoes have interchangeable shanks that allow the shoe to be customised to be ‘harder’ or ‘softer’ depending on the individual’s foot or dancing context. This means the dancer is able to change the ‘hardness’ of the pointe shoe for performances, class work or particular variations. They can also be customised to the particular foot which may be handy when recovering from injury or abnormalities on one side. These shoes also don’t have to be ‘worn in’ as the shanks can be replaced when they become a little softer. This means the shoes last longer and are able to be customised to the individuals needs making them more financially sustainable too.
For more advanced or professional dancers. These shoes are often very soft and ‘die’ easily. Some professional dancers use these shoes predominantly as their stage performance shoes.
Usually known to be very popular and a comfortable shoe for most. Gaynors are made from advanced flexible polymers which means they don’t need to be ‘broken into’ and last 3-6 times longer than normal pointe shoes. Gaynor Mindens offer 5 different stiffness options for their shoes and have additional options that can be ordered if needed. The shanks are already pre-arched which offers support and a nice line up en pointe.
Usually these shoes are suited to more experienced dancers who have been on pointe for a while. Gaynors are one of the only brands that have a right and left side to each pair with the draw-string going on the inside of each shoe. They cost double the price initially but end up lasting longer for the dancer. They are also easy customisable for the dancer as minor adjustments can be made to the shoe depending on what is needed. Gaynor Mindens also offer a vegan option for their shoes too.
Have a range of shoes ranging from hard to soft. This brand of shoe has a variety of shoes that have a ‘pre-arched shank’ making it a little easier to get onto pointe. They are more narrow, long, tapered and often feel harder when starting out in them. The ‘pre-arched shank’ helps the dancer to get onto their block and maintain this especially if the dancer is still gaining strength through their arches. Energetiks shoes are lighter in colour and almost look white so should be worn with theatrical pink tights to give a lovely streamlined look to the legs and feet on stage.
Energetiks shoes, in particular the ‘Energetiks Stella’ shoes often last a little longer for those dancers that do numerous hours a week on pointe and who have strong arches and are known to break in shoes very quickly. These shoes are often a good in class option for these dancers due to the hard shank that helps them to last longer.
A very light pointe shoe with a larger rounder platform to assist the dancer to roll up onto pointe. The lightness of the shoe can be attributed to the thin leather sole used to create the shoe which allows the dancer to feel more contact with the ground. Capezio shoes come in a 1/2 and 3/4 strength which allows the shoe to conform well to the dancer’s foot.
At Inspired, our physiotherapists are well equipped to help you with any pointe shoe questions or concerns you may have. We can work with your dance teacher to help ensure you are fitted with the correct shoe for pointe.