Thank you all for submitting your pointe shoe related questions to Capezio Senior Product Line Manager Paul Plesh. You will find his answers below. We hope this blog post will be helpful to you. If you would like to ask another question, please feel free to do so using the comments section or Facebook and Twitter.
“I heard that some shoes suit a more "high profile" or "low profile" foot. What does this mean? How do I know whether my foot is high or low profile?” – Sophie
Sophie, the profile of a pointe shoe is the depth from the drawstring to the shank (internal space). If there is a space between your foot and the top of the pointe shoe at the drawstring, the profile of the shoe is too high for you. A profile can be lowered by flattening the top of the pointe shoe box by hand. Use your palm not thumbs as that may crack the box.
“Why is it that the first time I wear my pointe shoes they feel fantastic and the next week it feels like I've outgrown them and my toes feel squished inside the box while I'm not even on pointe?” – Aurelie
Aurelia, This sounds unusual. By any chance are you going through a growth spurt? You said your "toes feel squished inside the box" when your not on pointe. The foot is contracted (shorter) on pointe and expanded (longer) when standing flat or in plié. A good fitting pointe shoe should be a little loose at the heel on pointe (be able to pinch the back strap at the heel a little) and the heel cup of the shoe should be completely filled by the foot when standing flat (no extra room). If you fit your pointe shoes with no extra room when on pointe, your toes will be "squished" when standing flat or in plié, when the foot is expanded.
"What's healthier as a protection when wearing pointe shoes? Silicone pads or just a piece of paper? Thank you." - Anonymous
There are varied thought within the dance community on what padding if any should be used in a pointe shoe. Padding is a personal choice. However, your instructor may have strong opinions about what is best for you and recommend specific padding techniques. Always follow their advice. Capezio offers a range of toe pad product to suit individual dancers' needs.
A pointe shoe provides the support a dancer requires to stand on pointe. A pointe shoe should fit like a second skin being the same shape and size of the foot, to provide maximum support of the metatarsals.
A pointe shoe fit is similar to that of a cast that supports a broken bone, same shape same size. Fit this way, a little paper towel can be applied to soften the inside of the pointe shoe and to absorb perspiration. This method of padding does not alter fit and does not affect the dancers connection with the floor surface.
If silicone or other padding is used, the fit of the pointe shoe must be increased to accommodate the additional material. Regardless of the padding method you choose watch out for bulk. If you can fit a lot of padding in the shoe, a new fit might be recommended. Lastly, avoid loosing the connection with the floor. Here less is more.
“I know that every dancer’s feet are different, but by assumption what Pointe Shoe would be best for my foot type? I have a wide foot that narrows and my second toe is longer than my first. I absolutely LOVE Chacott Cinderella, Coppelia II, Freeds, Russians, and Gaynor Mindens. I'm not en Pointe yet though, just keeping shoes in mind”. From Zara
Zara, If you stand barefooted and place a pointe shoe next to your foot, the shoe's shape should generally resemble the naked foot. Most dancers with a square foot (three toes of equal length) use a broad style pointe shoe (shoe with a broad platform or wider tip). Conversely, dancers with tapered toes (first toe longer) wear more tapered styles (shoes with a narrow platform).
The ideal toe shape for pointe work is three toes of equal length. Why? Because, the body's weight is distributed more equally across three toes of equal length. If the first toe is the longest, it's size can sustain the body's weight more effectively than a "smaller," more fragile, second toe.
Now to address your foot. The amount of distance between your second toe and first toe is the issue. The second toe can not sustain the body's weight alone. There are two options you could try:
1). Pad the big toe to even out the difference between the two toe's length. Make sure the compression rate of the pad does not flatten out when standing on pointe because the second toe will curl with the body's weight. With this approach a tapered style may work.
2). If the second toe is slightly longer and the big toe is not "built up" it will curl back a bit in the shoe but that would even out the difference between the toes. Again, two toes are taking the body's weight opposed to just one, albeit one is in a slightly "crunched" position.
Regardless of what approach you take (padding the big toe up or letting the second toe curl back) if ever the toes become three of equal length, then a broad style should be used.
When you are ready for your pointe shoes follow the advise of you teacher and the recommendation of you local retailer. You should consider Contempora or Bella in the Capezio pointe shoe line based on the description of your foot. Good luck!
“How do you get your pointe shoes to enhance/fit your arch shape nicely?” From Orla.
Orla, Every dancer has their own personal method which works best for them. What's key is determining where the shank should break. To see this, slip your pointe shoe on, with the back heel turned back. You will be able to see how the shank aligns up with your natural arch. Mark the inside of the shoe where your arch breaks. Take the shoe off and weaken the heel, a little at a time, till it matches your arch (starting at the heel's edge, working towards the mark you made at the arch. Keep trying on the shoe till the shank touches your arch completely. This may help you get "more over" on pointe too. If your arch is very pronounced a deeper vamp will hold you back. Don't forget to pull up.
“How do you suggest cleaning pointe shoes because someone suggested warm water and a toothbrush but it didn't really work. Thank you” from Esther.
You could use warm water and a mild detergent on a soft cloth to spot clean your pointe shoes, but try to wet the outer satin only. Allow enough time for the shoe to dry before wear. Be careful that you do not saturate the box toe. This will weaken the shoe if it is not completely dried before wearing. Pointe shoes take a beating in class and rehearsals. They seldom retain their original, pristine, appearance.
“Is the Tiffany pointe shoe from the US store the same as the Bella pointe shoe from the European website? The specifications are somewhat similar”. From Christina
Yes, Christina, they are similar but not exact. The European version has a cotton sock lining where the US version has a suede sock lining. All other specification are the same. Good observation.
"Which style is best for narrow feet with tapered toes?". From Erin.
Erin, Capezio offers Contempora and Bella which is suited for tapered toes.
"I love my Capezio pointe shoes and I'd like a new pair but I can't afford the custom made ones. Is it possible to dye them? How do I do it?" From Patricia
Patricia, it is possible to dye pointe shoes. Costume managers use commercial aerosol shoe sprays to change the colour of pointe shoes for ballet production's needs. Often mixing a few layers of different colours/shades will give you the colour you desire. Watch out for water based dyes. Many of these dyes need rinsing out after dying and that is not possible with a traditional pointe shoe. These dyes will stain everything, if used without a thorough rinsing out, even though they appear dry.
"I want to de-shank my pointe shoes to make them demi-pointes. What's the best way to do it? Thanks." From Lauren
Lauren, All you have to do is remove the nails that secures the shank to the pointe shoe. This may be accomplished with pliers. Please ask an adult to help you with that. The nails are difficult to remove but not impossible. Capezio does manufacture a demi-pointe that does not contain a shank. It's a ballet slipper with a pointe shoe box. Check it out!
"I've worn several pointe shoes over the years including some of yours but the shank always end up snapping in half. Is there something I can do to prevent this?" From Barbara
Barbara, The shank is the "spine" of a pointe shoe. A misconception in the marketplace is that a shank should stay straight. A shank must confirm to the pointed foot...providing support in the arch. The heel of the foot must be able to "drop down" when on pointe. That's why so many professional dancers cut their shanks at the 3/4 or 1/2 position. This allows the shank to conform to the pointed foot and provide maximum support in the arch. Additionally, hand molding a full shank to bend at or "break" at the arch will extend the life of the shank. The best way for you to identify where your shank should "break" is to place a pointe shoe on your foot with the heel turned back. Look at your arch. Does the shank conform to the arch? Mark the shank where it should be softened/bent to conform to the arch. Mold the shank lightly until you feel the right support in you arch.
If you go to a stronger shank the same principles mentioned above apply. The shank must conform to the pointed foot. Otherwise, it's just a matter time until the shank snaps, as you mentioned above.
The last part is how you pull up out of your pointe shoes. Teachers are always commenting to students, "Pull up!" You'll find the strength in your abdomen, your core. If a dancer "sits" in their pointe shoes, shanks will always be a problem.
At Capezio we shave our shanks to allow them to be flexible at the heel. But still, you should check where the break of the shoe is compared to you arch and adjust as needed.