Just like in Cinderella’s tale each ballerina has their perfectly fitting pair of pointe shoes. And even though a prince may not place the slipper onto our foot, for a ballerina it sure feels that way when we find our perfect pair of pointe shoes to perform happily ever after in.
Pointe shoes are our tools and I don’t think it is always known by the public how crucial it is for them to be perfect for each dancer and how essential it is to have comfortable, well-fitting and well-made pointe shoes, not only to dance at our best but to prevent injuries caused by ill-fitting shoes. Dancers spend their whole careers looking for the perfect shoe and having so many makes of pointe shoes out there, with each one having a catalogue of different styles to choose from it can be a long and difficult process to find the right style and maker for you.
Throughout my years of dancing, I have used about 6 or 7 different makes of shoes after starting pointe work at the age of 11. I joined The Royal Ballet School wearing Bloch (if I can remember correctly) and during my time there I tried shoes from Suffolk, Bob Martin and the Freed of London company – where I had customised pairs that I continued to wear into my first year as a professional dancer. Customised shoes are wonderful as you can cater the shoe to your own foot and personal requirements, e.g. the hardness or length of the schank, the vamp depth, the height of the heel, etc. It really can be a luxury to have this option but not always possible or necessary and as I said before all makes have a variety of different styles with large and small differences between each.
The cost of the shoes can also vary from around 50 – 100€, an expenditure that can build up as the shoes don’t last forever. Unfortunately, as a student, the cost falls usually onto your own lap, or more accurately the lap of the dancer’s helpful parents, and I remember always trying to find ways to lengthen the life of my pointe shoes using ‘special’ glue to keep them sturdy.