August 30, 2019 4 min read

Getting your first pair of pointe shoes is an exciting experience for any dancer. It's nothing like buying dance clothesor dance leggings. Rather, shopping for pointe shoes is a special time, one that you want to savor and enjoy since it means you're maturing and moving up in the world of dance. 

That said, there are a lot of options out there; sometimes, too many. You can't just choose any one and expect to have the best results in the studio or on the stage. Even a good quality brand might not fit your foot right, so you can't necessarily rely on word of mouth when it comes to choosing the right pointe shoes for you. There are many factors to take into consideration to get the most comfortable and supportive pointe shoespossible. 

This is important because when you choose the right pointe shoes, you can: 

  • Be the best dancer possible without having to worry about feeling comfortable and secure in your pointe shoes. 
  • Make sure that your feet are well protected and that they have the support they need to limit the risk of injury and help you to perform well. 
  • Achieve better lines thanks to pointe shoes that follow the contours of your foot. 

Now that you know the importance of choosing the right pointe shoes, how can you go about selecting the best pair? If it's your first time, get help from an expert. Buying pointe shoes can be a confusing and overwhelming experience for new buyers. But when you have an experienced professional, like your dance teacher or another dancer, to help you, you can ensure you're getting the best-fit ones. 

Not only that, but they can point out any special considerations or factors to take into account before you decide on the pointe shoes you're going to purchase. They can also help you to check the fit before you get the ribbons sewn in or break them in. This is important because if you do buy shoes and realize they're not the right ones for you, you might not be able to return them to the store because they've already been worn. 

Some other tips for purchasing the perfect pair of pointe shoes include: 

  • Make sure the fit is snug. The box of the pointe shoe -- which is the part of the pointe shoe that holds the toes -- should fit snuggly when you're standing up in it. Your feet should not feel squished and uncomfortable. Nor should your toes be bulging out of the shoe. The box should instead simply sit against the skin on your foot and feel secure, but not overly tight. Another way to check for fit? You should be able to slip your finger into the pointe shoe where your toes are. If you can't, then you might not have enough space to dance comfortably in them. 
  • Make sure wings are long enough and the heel sits right. The wings along the side of the pointe shoes should be long enough that they reach your big toe. If they don't -- and are too short -- then this can put you at a higher risk of injury and also cause issues, such as with bunions, on your toes. If, however, the wings are too long for your foot, then you're going to have a hard time engaging in proper footwork. 
  • Likewise, it's also important to check the heel of your shoes. It should come up high enough to protect your heel. Yet, if it's too high, it can cause a problem with your Achilles tendon. If it's too low, though, then your heel could slip off during a performance. That's why it's vital to ensure the heel of the pointe shoes you're considering sit just right. 
  • Check the vamp. The vamp of the pointe shoe, which is the front of the shoe, should be fit properly to your foot, as well. If it doesn't, then you won't be able to rise effectively when you're trying to perform a demi-pointe. At the same time, if it's too long, then you're not going to feel secure in your shoes. 
  • Check the shank. Another important aspect to look at when you're choosing pointe shoes is the shank. Shank strength is certainly up to you, but it's vitally important to consider, especially if you're new to pointe. When evaluating shanks, make sure you consider the arch of your foot, as well as what seems to complement you and your foot as a dancer. It might take trying on many different pairs before finding ones with shanks that are right for your foot. Likewise, your dance teacher might have a preference. Sometimes dance teachers want beginner pointe dancers to opt for shoes with softer shanks; others, though, want harder shanks to help build strength and get on pointe faster. 
  • Perform a plie and other moves in them. If you want to find pointe shoes that are a perfect fit, then it's important to work them a bit when you're trying them on. If this is your first time in a pointe shoe fitting, it's easy to feel shy and nervous. But don't let that stop you from ensuring the shoes you're trying on are the right fit for you. So go ahead and do some moves in them, such as stepping into pointe. A plie in second is also a great one to try out because your foot is going to be at the longest and the widest point when you're performing this move. When you're in it, you'll therefore be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not you'll feel comfortable and secure in the shoes you're trying on.