Pointe shoes, or ballet toe shoes, come in many different shapes and sizes, and street shoes do not.
If you are a pointe ballet beginner and are ready to go and buy ballet shoes, know your foot type before you walk into the ballet store.
Why? Because there are hundreds of pointe shoes you could try on!
If you have a "Greek" or "Morton's" foot type, your second toe is longer than your big toe.
This means you must have the strength to keep the second toe long in the pointe shoe.
Using a toe protector such as a gel sleeve on the toe is a good idea, at least until you have developed lots of strength in your toe shoes.
A "V" shape of the vamp, or the cloth covering the foot over the metatarsals, may be a more flattering and comfortable style of shoe.
Try on a few vamp/box shapes and see what feels best.
The "Egyptian" foot is a challenging shape to fit. The big toe is longer with the other toes diminishing in length steeply.
Often the little toe is opposite the ball of the foot. I
In most pointe shoes, this means that it is not even in the box.
This little toe may need taping up as it will be rubbing against the wing, or the stiff outside of the shoe, instead of being tucked securely in the box with the other toes.
Make sure that as you press up through demi pointe, that the big toe joint is not bumping into a too deep box edge, but can bend efficiently.
The "Giselle/Peasant" foot has three or more toes that are the same length. Often toes on such a foot are short, and medium in width.
Some students do not think this foot type is very elegant, yet it is an ideal foot for pointe ballet.
Short to medium vamps are good. This can be a strong foot in toe shoes, and will likely suffer less injuries than other foot types.
The Compressible foot is one which appears quite wide when the dancer is standing. Yet this foot has little muscle structure between its bones, and will easily compress into a narrower shoe than a fitter in the ballet wear store might pick, after seeing your feet.
So always try on MANY pairs of shoes. Do not rush a fitting, or allow anyone else to rush you.
Once you find a shoe that feels fairly good, try half a size different each way - shorter, longer, narrower, and wider, just to be sure.
Point shoe sizing charts are a guide, but only a guide.
After you buy your ballet toe shoes, take them to the dance studio and let your teacher check the fit before you sew ribbons on them.
This way you can be sure that you have the best fit, and you can return the shoes if you don't.
Here is a video walking you through a pointe shoe fitting.
The woman in the video is Lisa Howell, author of the Perfect Pointe Book.
Get your own copy of The Perfect Pointe Book for ballet terms, and ballet barre exercises.
You will get strong enough to start dancing in pointe ballet shoes.
D. Buxton is a writing partner with Vone Deporter, of The Sedona Series, about a surfer girl in pointe shoes.
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