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Anatomy of a Pointe Shoe

Pointe shoes are complex creations, with so many integral parts that can be tailored to each dancer's foot. Getting a professional fitting with someone who understands the anatomy of the foot, AND the anatomy of the slipper is crucial to the health and well being of any ballerina who dances on pointe. That is why, at Metronome Dancewear, we bring in the professionals from Russian Pointe twice a year to educate and assist our staff and to fit our local dancers.

Here is a little tutorial on the anatomy of a pointe shoe.

First, find the right brand. There are several companies out there that make quality pointe shoes. Usually, a studio or dance store will narrow down the choices in order to maintain a uniform look and narrow down the information needed to properly understand all the choices. We have chosen Russian Pointe for their commitment to quality and the safety of the people who dance in their shoes.

Next, find the model that best serves the shape of your foot. This involves a professional evaluation of the relative sizes of the heel, metatarsal area and toes, as well as toe length and toe taper. This can take time, so fittings are usually scheduled at our shop in hour long consultations.

Size and width should be carefully chosen for a snug fit that hugs the foot with no shifting but never feels tight or pinched. A dancer should have all toes flat against the insole with their big toe reaching the end of the box. Heel material should be taunt when flat and have a little room when on pointe. On pointe, the dancer’s weight is evenly distributed on the toes, she is balanced on the center of the platform, and the feet do not sink into the toe box.

Dancers should reevaluate their pointe model, size and specifications frequently throughout their training and careers. While their feet are still growing, obviously their size will change, but foot size isn’t the only factor that affects fit. The shape of the foot usually continues t

o change after full growth is achieved, requiring new pointe fittings and sometimes an entirely different pointe shoe model. Development in ballet technique often changes a dancer’s preferences for pointe model or specifications including vamp and shank.

(Special thanks to Russian Pointe for much of this information and diagram image)

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