Crucial Things to Consider When Buying Pointe Shoes

Aspiring and professional ballet dancers alike understand their footwear’s vital role in their performance.

The pointe technique in ballet, characterised by a dancer supporting all their body weight on the tips of fully extended feet, is both captivating and challenging.

Choosing the right pair of pointe shoes is paramount to excelling in this technique. This article outlines the crucial factors to consider when making this significant purchase.

Proper Fitting

Getting the right fit is the foundation of selecting the best ballet footwear. It’s important to remember that these shoes should be snug but not overly tight. Ill-fitting shoes can cause severe discomfort and injuries.

The length and width of the shoe should adequately accommodate the foot. A good fit ensures that the foot is supported and that the dancer can perform with precision and grace.

It is advisable for dancers, especially those buying their first pair, to have their feet professionally measured.

Consulting a knowledgeable salesperson or an experienced dancer can also be beneficial in understanding the nuances of the fitting.

Material and Construction

The material of the shoe greatly affects its performance and durability. Traditional pointe shoes are satin, but other materials like canvas and leather are also common.

The shank, the supportive piece in the sole, should have the right flexibility and strength to support the arch.

The toe box should be sufficiently hard to protect the toes. Awareness of the construction and materials will help select a shoe that complements a dancer’s style and needs.

Vamp Length and Shape

The vamp is the front part of the shoe that covers the top of the foot. The vamp’s length and shape can impact these shoes’ comfort and functionality.

A longer vamp offers more support but may limit the foot’s flexibility. The shape of the vamp should match the foot’s shape to ensure that the foot is secure and the weight is distributed evenly.

Dancers with longer toes might prefer a longer vamp for extra support, while those with shorter toes might find a shorter vamp more conducive to their range of motion.

Shank Strength

The shank supports the foot when a dancer is en pointe. The strength of the shank should correspond to the dancer’s foot strength and the kind of performance.

A harder shank offers more support, while a softer shank allows greater flexibility. Some dancers prefer different shoes with varying shank strengths for practice and performance.

Experimenting with different shank strengths to find what works best is advisable. As dancers progress and build strength, they might need to change the shank strength to better accommodate their evolving technique.

Ribbons and Elastic Choices

These shoes typically come with ribbons and elastics that need to be sewn on. These are not merely decorative but provide additional support to the ankles and feet.

The ribbons’ and elastics’ width and elasticity can affect the shoe’s fit and the dancer’s comfort. It’s important to select ribbons and elastics that hold the shoe securely in place without restricting movement.

Additionally, the placement of the ribbons and elastics can be customised based on the dancer’s preference and needs.

The colour and texture of the ribbons can also be a personal choice as long as they comply with any dress code that may be in place for performances.


There is an art to selecting the perfect pair of pointe shoes. A dancer must consider various factors, including proper fitting, material and construction, vamp length and shape, shank strength, and choices of ribbons and elastics.

By paying attention to these critical elements, a dancer can find a pair that enhances their performance and ensures the longevity of their dancing career.

Author Name – Ben Allen

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