Your First Pointe Shoes

The first question I am often asked by mom or dad bringing their daughter for her first pointe shoe fitting is, “What is the best beginner pointe shoe?” The reply is simple. There is no single pointe shoe that can be classified as “beginner.” It is imperative to determine what shoe(s) will work best for this dancer's individual needs.

A dancer attending a reputable ballet school has been guided carefully, slowly and repetitively preparing for pointe work. Strengthening pre-pointe exercises were introduced in her technique class and these same exercises will apply in her pointe training. If the dancer was instructed to have a shank-less pointe shoe (often called a “pre-pointe” shoe) we would hope she was instructed never to try to stand en pointe in these shoes as they have no support in neither the shank nor box and she would risk an injury.

Take the time to seek out a dancewear store that has a good reputation for specifically fitting pointe shoes, as these are fit very differently from any other type of shoe. When calling or stopping by the store, do not hesitate to ask questions. Is there an expert who specializes in pointe shoe fitting on the premises? Do you need an appointment to be sure she /he will be available? Be sure to tell the fitter that this is your first experience with pointe shoes, the name of your ballet instructor and that you have your instructor’s approval to purchase your shoes.

An experienced shoe fitter will be able to determine the dancer’s flexibility, strengths (and weaknesses) by having her do a few simple exercises and then fit her accordingly. She/he will also know the attributes of all of the shoes carried in the store and will select those best suited to that dancer. With this knowledge the fitter will be able to provide the dancer with exactly the correct shank, vamp and box support for her foot and body type. Getting up onto the toe box correctly will require a shoe that offers suitable shank flexibility, lateral support and a stable platform suited to the dancer’s strengths and placement -- the best “beginner” shoe.

Taking the time to find a dance store that specializes in fitting pointe shoes will surely help to make going en pointe for the very first time, a happy and memorable experience.

“To tend, unfailingly, unflinchingly, towards a goal, is the secret of success.” Anna Pavlova (1881–1931) Russian ballerina 


Marlena Juniman

President - Footloose Dancewear Inc. dba/Prima Soft