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Getting Your First Pair Of Pointe Shoes

Getting your first pair of pointe shoes is one of the most exciting experiences as an adult dancer. In the ballet world, it’s considered a rite of passage. That’s why it’s crucial to find the best pair for your feet. Consider the following guidelines while shopping for your first pair!

Get professionally fitted This is the most important thing you can do. Do not attempt to purchase your first pair online, or without the help of a professional fitting. Pointe shoes must fit the unique shape of your feet. Wearing ill-fitted shoes can result in serious injury. Also, you should never buy a pair of pointe shoes second hand. Your first (and every) pair should be brand new. There are 3 basic steps to fitting pointe shoes. (See diagram)

1. Your toes should feel confined in the box and vamp, but not crushed.

2. Arch each foot. There should be no gaps in the side quarters. The shoe should fit like a glove.

3. Stand in first position and relevé, or rise. The shoes should feel snug, but not unbearable. If the wings are too tight, it could lead to painful bunions. If you are not completely on top of the platform, you may benefit from a 3/4 shank that’s not as hard.

Protect your toes – to an extent Pointe shoes are made of thick layers of canvas and leather. When brand new, the box and vamp will feel almost rock-hard. This makes them very uncomfortable, not to mention potentially damaging to the bones of the feet. It is common to develop blisters and callouses, however, wearing pointe shoe pads that fully encase the toes can help minimize discomfort and guard against these problems. Lambswool, paper towels, band-aids, and bunion cushions are all options. A popular choice, and my personal favorite, are Ouch Pouches, made by Bunheads.

DON’T play in them It can be very tempting to prance around the house in your new pointe shoes. I was once guilty of it myself. But wearing your pointe shoes outside of class can ruin them prematurely. The canvas absorbs residue that may be found on surfaces like concrete and hardwood floors. Harmful particles could be lodged in the shoe. The satin on the platform may begin to shred. Did I mention a pair can cost between $60-100? Pointe shoes are expensive. As fun as it may be to play ballerina in the kitchen, don’t do it. It hurts your wallet, your shoes, and when you slip and fall on your butt, your pride.

Break them in properly Methods abound among dancers as to how to break in your pointe shoes: bang them against the floor, slam them in a doorway, step in water etc. But these methods can cause more damage when you’re unexperienced. The best way to break in your pointe shoes is to just dance in them. Your body temperature and perspiration from dancing will cause the canvas and leather to mold to the unique shape of your feet. Getting your first pair of pointe shoes is exciting, but comes with responsibility! Take care of your first pair of pointe shoes, and they will serve you well!

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