How should I choose a pointe shoe model?
You should choose a “first-try” model based on evaluation of the dancer’s feet, strength, alignment and technical needs.
Remember that, after you have worked on the other aspects of the fitting – size, width, shank and vamp choices – you might decide to reevaluate your choice of model. Dancers often need different specifications in different pointe models, and you might find that your initial choices are leading you to a different model and specifications by the end of the fitting. Don’t be afraid to change your mind!
To choose a first-try model, examine the dancer’s feet in detail. Make a mental or written note of each observation. This will help you choose the first pair or pairs of pointe shoes for her to try on, which will give you a starting point for the fitting.
Overall foot shape
Each dancer has a unique foot shape. Much of the variation comes from proportions between the forefoot, toes and heel. In your initial evaluation of the dancer’s feet, see if her foot could be considered more of a diamond or a rectangle. “Diamond feet” are widest at the metatarsal area (the joints between the body of the foot and the toes, including the big toe or “bunion” joint) and noticeably narrower at the heel. “Rectangular feet” have a more consistent width from toe to heel.
Look at the fullness of the foot – how tall it is from the floor to the tops of the toes and metatarsal area. A fuller foot will need a higher crown than a shallower foot.
Look at the shape of the toes, from the metatarsals to the toe tips. Is the general shape of the toes more tapered or square? Are the toes all different lengths or more even in length? Is the big toe or second toe significantly longer than the others? These questions will help you determine how tapered or square her pointe shoe’s toe box should be. Russian Pointe models with smaller platforms are more tapered; those with larger platforms are more broad or square.
Look at the dancer’s arch. You will choose a shank type and strength when you refine the fit. For now, keep in mind that some pointe models are pre-arched, which can be very helpful for dancers with very high or very low arches.
Matching foot shape to pointe shoe model
Each Russian Pointe pointe shoe model is designed with certain foot shapes in mind. The diagram below summarizes the structure of the different models, and how that structure accommodates differently shaped feet. Remember to use the diagram as a guideline, not a hard and fast rule, for choosing a pointe model for an individual dancer.
V-cut or U-cut vamp
Most Russian Pointe pointe models are available in a choice of V-cut vamp without a drawstring and U-cut vamp with an elastic drawstring. In subtle but important ways, these two types of construction can affect the fit of the pointe shoes. If you carry both variations in a particular model, it’s often worthwhile to try both on the dancer. Read more about vamps.