Find a Pointe Shoe ProfessionalYour success as a pointe ballet dancer is highly dependent on the fit of your pointe shoes. Because there are so many variables to consider when fitting pointe shoes, it is important to seek the help of a professional. Most dance stores that carry pointe shoes offer free pointe shoe fittings. Schedule a time to have your shoes professionally fitted, allowing at least an hour, to ensure that your pointe shoes fit your feet precisely.
If at all possible, try to schedule your fitting at a time in which your ballet instructor can attend with you. If he or she is unable to attend your fitting, make sure to try on the pointe shoes for them before sewing on the ribbons and elastics.
Find the Right Sized Pointe ShoeSince pointe shoes are made of differing materials, it's hard to judge the size you need. The fitter will be aware of the size differences and should carefully measure the length of your feet before trying any shoes on.
To find the proper length, place one foot en pointe. The back of the shoe should lie smoothly over your heel, with only a tiny bit of loose material. You should not be able to pinch any material together with your fingers, a sure sign of a pointe shoe that is too long.
To find the proper width, stand with your pointe shoes flat on the floor. The shoes should be snug but not tight around your toes. If you can easily wiggle your toes, the shoes are almost certainly too wide.
Find the Right Pointe Shoe BoxThe box of a pointe shoe is designed to provide proper support when en pointe. The box should feel as though it is hugging your foot. If the box allows your foot to slide forward and down into it, too much pressure will be placed on your big toe.
Find the Right Pointe Shoe Vamp and StiffnessThe vamp length and stiffness of your pointe shoes will affect your ability to achieve proper placement. The top of the shoes should completely cover your toes, allowing for no "toe cleavage."
In most cases, the stiffness of pointe shoes should be determined by the instructor. Generally, heavier dancers need stiffer shoes than lighter dancers in order to support their weight. However, the appropriate stiffness of pointe shoes is a debatable topic. Once you have danced en pointe for awhile, you will be more easily able to determine the amount of stiffness that is right for you.