What is a pointe shoe shank?
Pointe shoes have reinforced soles, thanks to an inner shank between the outer sole and the insole. This section is called the shank, which supports the entire foot on pointe. Shanks are usually made of several layers of material, in different amounts and configurations to provide different degrees of strength, or stiffness. With a good variety of shank options, each dancer can choose the amount of support she needs.
Some dancers think that they should choose a stronger shank to hold them on pointe. The shank should support the dancer properly and safely, but without developing her foot strength she will never succeed on pointe. The pointe shoe must be a partner to her dancing, not a prop that holds her up on its own. In a well-chosen shank, the dancer is developing her own strength while being supported adequately.
Other dancers hope that a stronger shank will last longer than a more flexible one. This can be true to a certain extent, as long as the shank is chosen with the dancer’s strength, foot shape and technique in mind. But, sometimes a stronger shank can actually last less time! If the shank isn’t suited for the dancer, it is more likely to snap rather than break in – and wear out – naturally.
Russian Pointe shanks
Russian Pointe shanks vary according to length and design, not the stiffness of the materials used. “Hard” shanks are longer than “Soft” shanks. For proper support, a dancer should choose the length that best matches the shape of her arch. “Flexible” and “Standard” shanks have different designs. Flexible shanks have a cutout design behind the toes, to provide more flexibility in demi-pointe, whereas Standard shanks have no cutout, for stronger support behind the toes. Each Russian Pointe model is available with a choice among three Flexible and one Standard shank.
Read more about Jewels Collection and Spotlight Collection shanks.