“What’s your favorite pointe shoe?”
A question every pointe student will ask at some point during their pointe career. Dancers will ask friends, teachers, classmates and strangers on the internet. She’ll consider the answers she receives, use the google or YouTube machine, read reviews, and try to make an educated decision on which shoe she should buy. All too often, a dancer will rely on these suggestions and may even have her heart set on a specific model before she steps foot in a dancewear store for her pointe fitting.
We live in a society that has the ability to buy *everything* online. Now we can find amazing prices and sales on any dance item imaginable, clearance leotards and tights and shoes. We scour reviews on items and oftentimes that star rating and other user reviews helps persuade or dissuade us from buying a certain item. In the dance world, this is a blessing and a curse.
If you’ve read other articles on this site and Learned Your Foot Type, you know that each manufacturer offers several different models of pointe shoes, and all of those different models suit the wildly diverse range of foot styles the dance world consists of. Despite knowing these facts, a startling number of dancers still buy pointe shoes based on star rating, customer reviews and sale prices.
“But why should I avoid star ratings & reviews?”
Reading customer reviews and checking star ratings isn’t the issue. Using those reviews and ratings as the decision maker for buying shoes online is where dancers get in trouble. Let’s face it, people tend to leave reviews when they’ve had a bad experience. That’s the most common type of review left across all online retail platforms. If you look at the most complaints about certain pointe shoes out there, you’ll begin to see an obvious recurring theme:
“These shoes bruised my toenails”
“These shoes gave me big toe pain”
“I can’t get over the box”
“These shoes force me up on to pointe”
“These are very uncomfortable/painful”
“These shoes died too quickly”
What is the recurring theme? Each of these dancers are in the WRONG shoe for their foot type, height/weight, strength or flexibility. To take it a step further, the shoe shape may be correct, but she could have a bad mix of attributes within that model– length, width, shank strength, or vamp length. Maybe she was too aggressive breaking in her shoes, or maybe she isn’t really sure how to correctly pad her feet. There are *SO* many aspects to fitting pointe shoes, one small problem can feel like a huge painful deal breaker, when really that small problem could be fixed by tweaking her combination of shoe attributes within that model.
There are no *bad* pointe shoes, only bad fits, right? Look at this diagram again and realize just how many things to into each aspect of your pointe shoes.
It’s important to remember….
That $30 clearance deal on pointe shoes sounds *AMAZING* considering the type of investment ballet requires. Unless you are 100% certain what is going to fit you, be wary of the super clearance sales for models you aren’t familiar with. It’s especially hard to decide exactly what shank, length, width, vamp and heel you need online because many manufacturers don’t exactly do a thorough, detailed job of explaining what type of foot each shoe is intended for.
The very best way to find a new pair of shoes is to be professionally fitted by a reputable fitter.
Most importantly, only you can decide if a shoe really fits you. Unless your feet are exactly the same as your friend, keep an open mind when you’re being fitted for shoes. You may have your heart set on a particular model only to suffer from buyers remorse and bruised toenails.
Best of luck, and take all reviews and star ratings with a grain of salt!