Bou Cou now offers virtual pointe shoe fittings! While it is always better to try on your pointe shoes in person, because of the current pandemic we are now offering a virtual fitting service for dancers who have been en pointe for at least 6 months. Been needing to re-evaluate the fit of your shoes? Have questions about padding, blisters, or bunions? Need a fresh pair for at-home training? Let us keep you on your toes via Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts. Virtual fittings are free and we are ready to answer any questions you may have! Reminder: All online and phone orders now have FREE shipping!
Pointe Shoe Fitting
Pointe shoes are made in different box shapes, to accommodate the many different foot shapes. They come with different crown heights, different vamp lengths, different heel shapes and different shank lengths and strengths. We take time during the fitting process to measure the dancer's feet and evaluate their foot shape. Then we choose the best pointe shoe styles for that dancer. We keep thousands of pointe shoes in stock, from multiple pointe shoe manufacturers, to be sure we have just the right shoe for your feet. If we don’t have the perfect fit in stock, we are happy to special order it for you.
Pointe shoes must fit snugly in the box, in order to support the dancer en pointe. If the dancer's feet are still growing, we will leave a pinch at the heel to allow room to grow, but cannot leave extra space around the toes. A pointe shoe that is too big in the box, will allow the toes to curl and the dancer will “sink” in the box. This is very painful and causes bruising of the toes and potential toenail loss.
The young dancer's foot should be re-measured and re-evaluated before each new pair of pointe shoes, as the feet may still be growing. And even when the feet stop growing, they may thicken as they build strength and will typically become more compressed and tapered, after years of dancing en pointe, so it's a good idea to have the feet re-evaluated and the shoes re-fitted at least twice a year.
Pointe Shoe Care
Most pointe shoes are made of paper maché (cardboard and glue). The sweat of the feet helps to mold the shoes to the dancer’s feet, but over time will soften and break down the shoes so that they no longer support the foot en pointe. Dancers say their shoes are “dead” when they reach this stage. Pointe shoes typically last a professional ballerina only 12-15 hours. A young dancer will usually outgrow their first pair or two of pointe shoes, before they wear them out. Students who dance en pointe everyday, will typically need a new pair every month. There are several things you can do to lengthen the life of your shoes:
Allow your shoes to thoroughly dry between wearings. It takes 48 hours for the shoes to completely dry out. Dancers who are en pointe everyday should consider purchasing two pairs of shoes and alternate wearing them. This will substantially lengthen the life of the shoes.
Do not store your toe pads in your shoes. This keeps the moisture in the shoes, allows bacteria to grow, and increases shoe and toe pad odor.
We recommend that you store your pointe shoes in a mesh bag, to allow them to air dry. Our bags have a pocket to store your toe pads. Don't put anything heavy on top of your pointe shoes that can crush them-especially when they are damp from wearing.
Keep water bottles and other liquids away from pointe shoes. A spill can totally destroy the shoes.
Breaking in Pointe ShoesThe best way to break in your new pointe shoes is to put them on and wear them and sweat in them. Do lots of relevés onto demi-pointe! Do not flex the shoes back and forth with your hands. This weakens the shoes and can break the shank. We recommend one exercise in particular for breaking in: Place a small ball between your heels, in the hollow just behind the ankle bones. Stand in parallel and roll onto demi-pointe, then roll fully onto pointe, keeping your heels together, without dropping the ball, then go back down and repeat. This ensures that you break your shoes in, feet in the proper position, with your heels tucked together.Strength and FlexibilityIt is natural to have one foot/ankle that is stronger than the other, but to dance your best, both should be equally strong. We have stretch bands and a book of simple exercises that you can do to increase your strength and flexibility. If one foot is noticeably weaker, we recommend that you do the same exercises for both feet, but do more repetitions with the weaker foot, to gain strength.Questions or ProblemsAs you start wearing your shoes, if you have any questions, problems with your shoes, blisters, etc., please call us. We have all kinds of solutions to make your pointe shoes feel better. Pointe shoes are not “comfortable”, but they shouldn't be painful!
For years, lambswool was the only way to protect the feet in pointe shoes and it is still widely used. In addition, there are all kinds of toe pads and foot accessories to make pointe shoes more comfortable and to custom tailor their fit to your feet. You want to “feel the floor” while en pointe, so choose the least amount of padding you need to make the shoes comfortable. Always try on new pads with your pointe shoes, as they can significantly change the fit of your shoes.
Elastics are sewn to the pointe shoes to keep them secured to the feet. This may be a single band of elastic around the ankle or two strips that crisscross the top of the foot. Crisscrossed elastic helps to keep the foot centered in the shoe.
Ribbons were initially added to pointe shoes to draw attention to the beautiful arch of the foot en pointe. They also add to the security of the shoe and help to keep it in place. Traditional pointe shoe ribbons are satin, but because the ribbons are tied so tightly around the dancer's ankles, the ribbons can cause or increase the pain of tendonitis. We recommend using stretch ribbon. It looks just like the satin ribbon on stage, but moves and stretches with the movement of the dancing feet, keeping the shoe secure and lessening any chance of tendonitis.
Sewing the Shoes
Some teachers prefer that students sew their own pointe shoes and all dancers should know how to sew them, in case they have to do a repair. We recommend that you keep a sewing kit in your dance bag with needle and waxed thread. We are happy to sew your shoes for you, at no charge. And we work with you to find the best elastic placement to keep the heels of your shoes from slipping off and to position the ribbons to pull in at the arch and to show off your arches en pointe. Never use safety pins to secure your elastic and ribbons! It is extremely dangerous.
Many teachers use demi-pointe, also called pre-pointe, soft-block or shankless, shoes, for pre-pointe training. Demi-pointes have a shaped box like a pointe shoe, but no stiff shank in the sole.
Wearing demi-pointes gives dancers a more gradual transition from ballet slippers to pointe shoes. They can get used to the feel of a pointe shoe before learning to dance on pointe.
Dancers should use demi-pointe shoes only according to their teacher’s instructions, and they should never attempt to stand or dance on pointe in a demi-pointe shoe.