As a young ballet dancer buying your first pair of pointe shoes is exiting but can also be a little bit daunting.
Feet are a bit like finger prints, they are all different and what fits you might not fit your friend.
Pointe shoes also come in lots of different makes, styles and variations and there are several large pointe shoe producers on the market.
The main ones are Bloch, Capezio, Freed, Griskho, Russian Pointe, Merlet, Gaynor Minden, Suffolk and FR Duval. They all make several styles, and these styles comes in different variations such as width as well as hardness of the shank.
It might take a few years until you find your perfect shoe and that perfect pointe shoe might also change, depending on if your feet are still growing, or if your feet are getting stronger and you are becoming more confident when dancing on pointe.
Below is a photo of the different shoes and styles one of our daughters has tried in the last 4 years whilst trying to find her perfect shoe...
Here are our 5 tips on what you need to think about ahead of getting your first pair of pointe shoes.
So what should you think about when buying your first pair of pointe shoes?
1. ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR TEACHER BEFORE YOU BUY YOUR SHOES.
2. ALWAYS GO TO A REPUTABLE POINTE SHOE FITTER.
Never, ever buy your first shoes from an online retailer.
You need to make sure that the shoe fits your feet perfectly, or you might sustain a serious injury.
Once your feet have stopped growing and you know what shoe fits you well, you can order them online, but for now please see a professional fitter for your pointe shoes.
All main pointe shoe makers will either offer fitting in their stores, or they will be able to recommend someone that stock their shoes and can fit them for you.
Some dance shops stock several different brands which can be good if you need to compare and see what might fit you the best.
Your teacher will also be able to recommend the best place for you to buy your first shoes from.
3. MAKE AN APPOINTMENT
We would also recommend that you contact dance shop to make an appointment for fitting of pointe shoes. The first fitting can take quite a long time and if you turn up without an appointment they might not be able to help you. And perhaps see if your teacher can come with you? Some teachers insist on it and they can be a great help in deciding which shoe might be best suited.
When you are at your first fitting...
Your first pointe shoe fitting can take anything from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
One of our daughters ended up trying over 20 variations of shoes, different styles, different sizes and different widths. We were there for over an hour!
Your fitter will ask you if you need toe pads so make sure you have checked with your teacher to see what they prefer. This is so that you can wear a pair when trying on the different shoes to make sure that the shoe will fit properly with the correct toe pad.
Teachers can be a little bit fussy and you don't want to get it wrong... some doesn't like toe pads at all, some wants gel on one side but not the other and some wants gel on both sides.
Your fitter will then ask you a few questions about how long you have been dancing and how many hours a week you might be doing pointe work.
After that they will start bringing out different shoes for you to try on.
They will ask you to stand in parallell, in first position and to rise up on the shoes. This is how they can ascertain how the shoe fit your feet.
They will ask you how you think the pointe shoe feels on your foot. If this is your first time trying on pointe shoes it might be really hard to answer since you don't really know what it should feel like.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, and don't be afraid of telling the fitter if the shoe, hurts, or one foot feels ok but the other one doesn't.
It is important that you feel comfortable in your shoes and the more information and feedback you give your fitter the easier it will be for them to find you that perfect shoe.
The longer you have worn pointe shoes the more you will know yourself if you think the shoe suits you or not. And you will quickly be able to say yes or no to a shoe you are trying on.
Once you have found your perfect pair you need to get toe pads and ribbons.
Sometimes dancers also use a bit of elastic across the arch of the foot to make the pointe shoe fit better. Some teachers don't like this, so again, it is best to check with your teacher before you go for your fitting.
And finally before you leave the store...
4. DON'T FORGET TO TAKE PHOTOS!
Getting your first pair of pointe shoes is a massive mile stone for a young dancer and you will want to remember it.
5. YOU'VE GOT YOUR NEW POINTE SHOES - WHAT NOW...?
All you probably want to do now is to sew on the ribbons and put on your new pointe shoes and try dancing on them...
First of all, unless your teacher came with you to your fitting, you need to show them your shoes BEFORE you sew the ribbons on.
Like we mentioned earlier, teachers can be fussy, but they also know you a lot better than the fitter, who only gets a snap shot of you and your feet at the pointe shoe fitting. They can also get it wrong... And the last thing you want is to have already put the ribbons on only to be told they are the wrong shoe for you. Pointe shoes are expensive and the dance shop will not exchange them or let you return them if you have sewn the ribbons on.
So bring your shoes to your next class and show them to your teacher before adding the ribbons. Hopefully your ballet teacher will approve of them and you will be able to wear them in your next class.
Good luck in finding your first pointe shoes!
We hope this has been of some help for you. Please comment below to let us know what you think of this article and also if you have any questions.
Already got your first pair and want to find out more about how to make them last? Read our blog about Pointe Shoes and how to make them last here.
We will write another blog soon about how to add your ribbons to your pointe shoes.