Being properly fitted for pointe shoes is both smart and necessary! It’s not an exaggeration to say that detrimental, lifelong problems can occur without the proper fit.
Use this checklist to ensure you are able to achieve the best possible result from your next fitting:
Do your homework! Choose a store that your teacher has recommended, or that you have researched well. Call ahead and inquire about their pointe shoe fitters’ qualifications. Fitters should have completed a rigorous training process and understand that pointe shoe fittings require a full assessment of the dancer’s foot, ankle, and alignment in each possible shoe.
Fitters should also be able to describe to you the variables in consideration for finding the right shoe, such as brand differences, shank hardness, vamp length, shoe width, profile height, and more. Pointe shoe fittings are an art and a science!
If you have 1 to 3 years’ experience on pointe, plan to bring your previous pair of shoes to the fitting. The fitter can recommend new shoes in part based on the way your old ones broke in.
If you have 4 or more years’ experience on pointe, you may not need to bring your most recent pair of shoes, but do make notes about what to tell the fitter regarding your likes and dislikes about your current shoes.
Be as prepared as possible before your fitting: wear your tights and bring your padding so the fitter can see what you use. A fitter may also make padding recommendations, which you can then discuss with your teacher.
Plan to have your shoes inspected by your teacher before sewing them; most teachers have a preference for the way your shoes should be sewn. (If you know your teacher well and have been on pointe for several years, you may not need this step.)
For ongoing reference, purchase a copy of The Pointe Book by Janice Barringer. It is the gold-standard in ballet for learning all there is to know about pointe shoes!
Even if it means driving hours away from home, pointe shoe fittings are worth the extra time and effort required; you don’t want to make a costly or long-term mistake by trying to cut corners. Pointework is a major investment, but you’ll only reap the returns if you have the right fit!