How should I refine a dancer’s pointe fitting?

refining pointe shoe fit

At a certain point during the fitting, you will have used your best judgment to choose the right model, size, width, vamp and shank for the dancer. Now is the time to focus on the fitting in as much detail as possible, to make sure that the dancer has achieved her best possible fit.

Ask the dancer to hold onto the barre and step onto pointe with both feet, in a comfortably turned-out first position. Continue to ask questions and make observations to ensure that the fit is correct.

Signs of a good fit on pointe
The dancer can feel the floor and feels supported. Her toes remain straight on pointe and she does not sink into the box. The box is holding the dancer snugly and securely, without pain. The dancer is steady on pointe, not wobbling or wiggling. Beginners may not balance easily, but should be able to stand fairly securely while holding the barre. The dancer is able to stand on the center of the platform, not rolling forward or backward, and not sickling (rolling toward the outside of the foot and ankle) or winging (rolling inward at the ankle so that the foot “wings” outward). Overall appearance is good; size seems snugly comfortable and supportive; shoe is aesthetically pleasing.

Questions to ask

  • How does the box feel?
  • Is there room for your toes to wiggle?
  • Do you feel like you’re sinking, with your toes bending or pushing into the floor?
  • Do you feel any pain?
  • Is the box hugging your toes evenly?
  • How much pressure do you feel in the box?
  • Where do you feel the most pressure?
  • Do you feel a lot of pressure on your big toe?
  • Do you feel a lot of pressure on your metatarsal area?
  • Does the box feel stable?
  • Do you feel supported?
  • Can you feel the floor without sinking?
  • What do you like and dislike about this pointe shoe?
  • Do you like this pointe shoe?

Choosing between two or more good fits
Sometimes more than one pointe shoe will fit the dancer well, so that it is challenging to decide between them. Ask questions about every difference between the pairs to help the dancer choose. Include function and aesthetics, as well as comfort and support, in the evaluation. If she can’t decide, and she is an intermediate or advanced dancer, she might want to buy both pairs and decide which she likes best after dancing in both.

When every shoe looks good
Dancers with especially “good” feet may look great in every pair they try on. This makes it more challenging to judge fit based on appearance. Make sure to ask detailed questions about how the shoes feel.

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