One of the most important ballet dancing accessories are ballet shoes. These shoes are also called pointe shoes. Pointe shoes are extremely important to perform the pointework, which is a really important stance in ballet dancing. The pointe shoe is a type of shoe designed specifically for the ballet dancer. Pointe shoes are designed to permit dancers, primarily female, to perform ballet steps while standing on the tips of their toes. To achieve that feat, they’re constructed with several features not found in ordinary soft ballet slippers. Yet, the main purpose of the shoes is not specifically dancing on one’s toe tips, but rather making wearers seem as weightless, and therefore as graceful, as possible.
Dancers have been performing en pointe, or on their toes, since 18th century French choreographer Charles-Louis Didelot first incorporated the style in his works. More an acrobatic element than a fluid aspect of the overall ballet then, pointe work came into its own in 1832, when Italian/Swedish ballerina Marie Taglioni performed on toe for much of La Sylphide. However, famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova helped pioneer the construction of modern pointe shoes by customizing her own with additional durable material in the toe area to give her atypical feet better support. If you looking for pointe shoes, then there are six other elements to consider when choosing a perfect pair of pointe shoes to ensure a good shoe fit. These are the box, the shape, the vamp, the length,the profile height, the shank size, the shoe strength and the fit. The box is the hard area situated at the front of the ballet shoe that protects your toes and enables dancers to stand on pointe. It should fit comfortably, neither tight or lose, to avoid rubbing that can lead to blisters. The vamp is the area on the outside front of the shoe meant to cover all toes completely. For short toes a short vamp will do. If you have long toes then it calls for a longer vamp.
Then, the profile of the pointe shoe is the view from the side of the shoe and must cover the arch entirely. High arches call for high profiles. Low arches call for lower profiles. The Shank is the inside bottom lining of the shoe that also protects the arch. They come in three-quarter and full lengths. Fit will determine proper length. Lastly, the strength of the shoe is dependant on both the arch and the dancer’s overall foot. Pointe shoe strengths come in light, medium and heavy. The Fit should be snug but not tight. Put pad or lamb-wool wrapped toes in the shoe’s box and carefully fit the slipper’s sides. Now pull the back snugly up over the heel. Point the shoe into the floor and arch, making sure no excess space exists. Finally, stand fully on point. If these particular Pointe Shoes aren’t perfect, one of the many other styles available will be.
There are many different brands of pointe shoes, made in very different countries and there is no one shoe that is perfect for everyone. Different dancers have different shaped feet, and so require different proportions to their shoe to get that magic fit. Some people have very long narrow toes while others have a very broad foot with a very narrow heel. Finding a shoe that fits well can take a lot of searching, along with a little trial and error. Also, keep in mind to consider sex elements above to choose the perfect pointe shoes for you. Good Luck!