Diary of a Pointe Shoe Fitting

 My daughter's pointe shoes haven't been fitting quite right.  She's wearing an updated version of the same model she's been wearing for the past few years, but the new version seems a bit bigger and her foot is sliding down toward the toes when she's en pointe.  So, we're going to a dance supply store we've never been to before. They carry some different brands that she can try on to see if another shoe might fit better.  

Before you go to a pointe show fitting, make sure you're prepared with clean tights, your toe pads or any accessories you use in your shoes, and your last pair of shoes for comparison.  Since I know her feet pretty well, what problems we need to solve, and how pointe shoes should fit and function, I'm also going to go armed with a list of shoes I've already researched and think might work for her. That way, we have some models to start with right away.  

You don't need to be a pointe shoe nerd like me and do that research yourself--a good pointe shoe fitter will be able to make suggestions of which shoes might work for you after looking at your feet and asking some questions.  They'll look at the overall shape of your feet, the strength and flexibility of your foot and ankle, and whether you have bunions or other noticeable areas of concern.  You'll be asked about your training and skill level, how long you've been en pointe, and what issues you've been having with your current shoes.  For instance, are you getting a lot of blisters? Are you having trouble getting up over the box?  Do you feel unstable in your shoes? Do your shanks keep breaking?  Being able to articulate the problems you're having with your current shoes will really help your fitter narrow down the options that will work best for you.  

Finding the right pointe shoe isn't only about the fit. The way a shoe functions and your needs as a dancer at the time of your fitting are just as important.  So, you'll want to be up front about any injuries you've had recently.  Coming back to class after surgery or a serious injury may mean a completely different shoe than you wore before.  The choice of shoe can also depend quite a bit on your goals. Dancers newer to pointe will have different needs than more experienced dancers whose feet are stronger and who spend a lot more time in their pointe shoes.  If you're an experienced dancer getting ready for a performance or competition, you may want a softer shoe for performing and a harder workhorse of a shoe for class.  

Back to my daughter's fitting--We spent a good long time in the store, and she tried on several models and several sizes of each.  This pointe shoe fitter had a different philosophy than the last one we saw, and insisted that she needs a bigger shoe.  The shoes we left with are a brand we've never tried, and are definitely wider through the heel than her previous shoes.  I'm a little worried that her heel will constantly slip off, even with ribbons and elastics.  But, we're willing to give this new shoe a try.  I think it's always good to try different brands and models.  There is a lot of trial and error involved in finding the right pointe shoe for you.  But, you can never really know what works or doesn't work for you if you haven't tried at least a few.  


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