Learn Your Foot Type

Pointe fitting is serious business!

The wrong fit can cause a whole host of issues in the studio, while the perfect fit allows the dancer to focus on technique, vs. pain and discomfort!  Would you rather…..

Section 1:  What is your toe shape?

*Tip: Toe shape impacts both box shape & width platform width*

At pointeperfect.com, we believe there to be 5 major toe types.  Your feet may be a hybrid of two different types, or you might even have two different toe shapes on each foot, and that’s OK!  

Pointe shoes should fit the shape of your toes as closely as possible, leaving very little “negative space”.  There should never be room to grow or wiggle room in a pointe shoe!  


An egyptian or tapered toe type is one the has a large big toe, and the rest of the toes gradually get shorter and shorter.  

Greek + Tapered

A greek+tapered foot has the 2nd toe the longest, where the rest of the toes gradually get shorter.  


In a peasant toe type, the first 2 or 3 toes are all the same length, and the rest gradually get shorter and shorter.  

Greek + Square

A greek+square foot has the 2nd toe the longest, where the rest of the toes are all about the same length.  


On a square toe type, all of the toes are approximately the same length, and toes don’t taper much, if at all. 

Toe Shape vs. Box Shape 

Each model of pointe shoes has one of three main box shapes!  The three box shapes used universally with makers are Tapered, Slightly Tapered and Square. Some makers have slightly different terminology for their shoes, but all essentially use the same shapes.

Every manufacturer has at least one of each box shape in their collection, though a Square Capezio and a Square Grishko will differ slightly.

Tapered Box 

A tapered shoe works best for people with tapered, Egyptian style toes as well as Greek +Taper feet. Some dancers with peasant shaped feet can also wear a shoe with a tapered box. Wearers of this box tend to have long slender tapered feet.

Ideal for: 
some Greek Tapered Toes

Slightly Tapered Box

Slightly tapered shoes are the middle ground between square & tapered. Many different toe shapes can wear this box shape. This is for a foot with toes that are somewhat/slightly tapered and feet that aren’t quite square. 

Ideal for:
some Greek Tapered toes
some Greek Square toes 

Square Box 

A square shaped box is for a person whose feet don’t taper much, if at all and tend to be broad. This foot is about the same width from the bunion area down to the toes.

Ideal for:
some Peasant
some Greek Square toes

Toe Shape VS Box Shape

This diagram definitely isn’t the rule, but a reliable starting point!

It’s important to note…

There is a difference between having a square shaped foot and having a wide foot, they are not mutually exclusive. A person might have tapered toes but a wide metatarsal area. She would still look for a shoe with a tapered box.

Your goal is to buy the shoe that has the right box shape for your toes. If, for instance, a person with Egyptian style tapered feet purchased a pointe shoe with a wide square shaped box, their metatarsals would be completely unsupported.

So often we hear dancers complaining of big toe pain with their current or past pointe shoes, only to learn that they are in a big square shoe, although they have very tapered toes.  Of course they are in pain!  

Section 2:  What is your toe length?

*Tip: Toe length impacts the box shape & width vamp length*

There are those with long slender toes and those with short compact toes. It’s important to pay attention to toe length so you can determine what type of vamp you need.  Wearing a vamp that’s too short can leave parts of the forefoot unsupported which can make it hard to roll from demi-pointe to full pointe.  Wearing a vamp that’s too long can prevent the dancer from hitting demi-pointe at all.
A vamp that’s too long can also keep you from getting over the box!

You wouldn’t put a person with long toes into a shoe with a short vamp! The vamp must extend past your toes. The vamp helps hold your foot in place and stabilizes your arch. For example, a person with a very flexible high arch will often need a higher vamp so they don’t roll too far past the platform.  

Most often……

Short Toes 

Short toes generally need a short vamp! 

Medium Toes 

Take an average or medium vamp, but may take a long vamp in the event that the foot is very flexible.

Long Toes 

Long toes generally need a long vamp! 

Section 3: What is your arch type?

*Tip: Arch type impacts vamp length & shank strength*

It’s important to note that there is a difference between arch shape, and arch flexibility.
A dancer might have a very low but flexible arch that appears quite high en pointe!

This diagram definitely isn’t the rule, but a reliable starting point. Shank strength comes from many factors, but arch height and strength are certainly a big part of that!

Flexible Flat Arch

This is called “pes planus” – arches are flat when standing normally, but are flexible when pointed and can appear to be quite high on pointe.

An overly loose foot may need extra support in the shank and a long vamp.

Rigid Flat Arch

This is called “pes planus” –  these are feet that are stiff and have limited flexibility in the arch. Will benefit from a pre-arched, flexible/soft shank.

Sometimes dancers with this type of arch are not suited for pointe regardless of the shoe.  

Normal/Medium Arch

This one is perhaps a bit exaggerated, but a person with a “Normal” arch has a flat supported exterior foot, but also a significant arch compared to their flat-footed counterpart.

People with average arches can wear most shank strengths per their preference and other aspects of their foot like strength.

High Arch

The High Arched foot has a small amount of supportive outsole and a very pronounced arch. This type of foot creates a beautiful desirable line, but people with a high arch often have weak feet.

A harder shank and a higher vamp will stop those with high arches from rolling very far past the edge of their platform.  

Very High Arch

People with extremely high arches can slide a pencil through their whole arch while standing flat. These feet are often called “banana feet”, and tend to completely roll over their shoes.

Just like high arched counterparts, a strong shank and deep vamp will help hold your feet back in the shoe so you don’t roll over them.

Section 4:  Foot & Ankle Flexiblity

*Tip: Foot & ankle flexibility impacts vamp length and shank strength*

Most humans have moderately flexible ankles and arches! 
Arch & ankle flexibility is sometimes related to the height of the arch but oftentimes is a completely separate animal!

Flat or Collapsed Arch

There are two classes of flat feet, the flexible flatfoot, and the rigid flatfoot.  Contrary to popular believe, flat feet can’t be undone, or made to have an arch without surgery.  They can become stronger, but not un-flat.  

As the names suggest, a flexible flatfooted person will have an easier time in pointe class.  

A dancer with rigid flatfoot will have a very tough time in pointe class, and sometimes isn’t suited for pointe work at all.  

Average or Normal Arch

Have a varying range of flexibility. Can generally wear the shank strength and vamp length combination of their preference, but it may take some time to figure out the right combination.

Not all dancers with an average arch are suited for pointework – sometimes arch or ankle flexibility can impede the dancer from getting fully over the box.  

High and Very High Arches

The high and very high arches are what the ballet world obsesses over!  Everyone wants banana feet, but often super flexible arches are weak and prone to injury.   

These dancers also tend to go through more shoes, because they break down faster! 

High and very high arched dancers need to work hard to strengthen their flexible feet, and often gravitate towards the strongest shanks and longest vamps.  

Section 5:  Compression 

*Tip Compression impacts both box shape and platform width*

An important, but often overlooked aspect of pointe fitting!  A good pointe shoe fitter will check for this as part of their evaluation of your feet. Bring up compression during your appointment if your fitter doesn’t mention it. Compressible feet can cause a lot of issues for a dancer, especially if she is fitted without taking compression into consideration.

Compressible feet will mold to fit the shoe rather than the shoe conforming to the foot. If a dancer with compressible feet is dancing a shoe that’s too wide, she’ll sink down onto her big toe and deal with lots of pain. 

I’ve got compressible feet, what does this mean for me??
If you’ve just learned that you have compressible feet, don’t worry!  This just means you need to pay close attention to how your shoes fit when standing en pointe. You should feel supported en pointe in the areas you just squeezed.  If you find yourself sinking down into your shoe while en pointe, a different width or box shape is needed.

Tip: Though dancers with compressible feet often need narrower shoes, it’s important that they aren’t extremely narrow. Pointe shoes do stretch slightly as they break in, so shoes should be purchased with this in mind. A dancer with compressible feet should avoid flattening the box, as it will increase the width of the box!

How to determine if you have compressible feet: Stand flat, and gently squeeze your feet in the same areas you see in the photo below. If your foot squashes in and compresses, VOILA! You’ve got compressible feet!

This dancer has feet that look VERY wide when relaxed, but are actually quite narrow when pointed and en pointe.  This dancer is often fitted in wide, square boxes that leave a ton of negative space and put all of her weight on her big toe while dancing.  This dancer actually needs a slightly tapered, narrow shoe! 

Section 6:  Heel Shape

*Tip Heel Shape impacts heel height & width*

Every manufacturer uses different heel shapes in their pointe shoes. When fitting pointe shoes, this is generally the last thing I worry about when deciding between two pairs.  This is not the most important aspect of a fit, the toe box and shank is!  

There is a heel type called “disappearing heel”, where the heel compresses and seems to disappear! This dancer needs a shoe with a low heel. In addition, if the heel is too high and the drawstring pulled too tight, it can affect the Achilles tendon. Experiment with different shoes to see what works best for you!

TIP: The way you place elastic can reduce a baggy heel or help keep a low heel from falling off when transitioning from flat to pointe. 

This image shows heels of various pointe shoe models, including:
Capezio Contempora
Capezio Aria
Russian Pointe Almaz
Grishko 2007
Gaynor Minden

It’s up to the dancer to decide how important some extra fabric at the heel is vs. a great fitting shoe.

49 Responses

  1. Emma Darga says:

    This has been sooooooo helpful! Finding a pair of pointe shoes Online can be a real risk, but I have no choice where I live. I learned a lot here.

  2. kim says:

    this is perfect thank u so much!!!! 🙂

  3. abc says:

    Thank you for this informative article!
    I have a special question… I have greek tapered, compressible feet with long toes. I am searching for my first pair of pointe shoes (age 16) and have tried on all pointe shoe models (mostly Grishko and Bloch) available in my size in my city and have still not found a pair that fit me standing flat as well as en pointe. In some shoes (Bloch Sonata C) I feel pain and pressure on my toes when doing a plié or standing flat, and when en pointe all my toes are squished together but at least I am not sinking into the shoe as much as in other shoes. Wearing Bloch Serenade C, the shoes feel “comfortable” standing flat, however when en pointe I my feet slide forward quite a lot. I have already bought a silicone tip for my big toe to level out the difference to the second toe, however this did not resolve the problem. Now I do know that the Bloch models I could try on all had a rather square box, but other models are either not available at all in my area or not in my size since I have rather large feet. Do you have any suggestions for me which models might fit me? Unfortunately there are only Grishko, Bloch and small regional brands, of which you will not have heard of, available in my area… I am starting to think that ordering online might be the only option for me, however I am not quite sure what to order since it is my first pair.

    • Hello! I’m sorry to hear you are having troubles finding your first pair. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing online for your first pair, it’s so hard to guess what will fit you best even knowing as much as we do about different styles.

      Bloch Sonata and Serenade actually are both considered “Square”, which I’m sure contribute to the sliding/sinking you are experiencing. Shoes that hurt your toes just standing flat or in plie are definitely wrong and shouldn’t be purchased.

      I’d recommend looking for shoes slightly tapered or fully tapered in box shape. A low profile will help keep your toes from squishing together and overlapping, but if you have a very high arch and instep this might not be ideal. A long vamp to help hold in your long toes.

      Here are the styles I’d try if you can find them in your area, I tried to stick with Grishko & Bloch mainly.

      Slightly Tapered Box, Long Vamp, Low Profile:
      – Grishko 2007
      – Bloch Jetstream
      – Bloch Axiom
      – Russian Pointe Sapfir
      – Russian Pointe Almaz
      – Prima Soft Vole
      – Suffolk Apprentice

      Tapered Box, Long Vamp, Low Profile
      – Gaynor Minden
      – Bloch Axis

      These are just starting points, it’s impossible to suggest shank strength, exact width or length online. These shoes should be close to the general shape you need. I’d recommend going in for another fitting with this list.

      One thing I suggest to everyone I speak with (especially those with compressible feet!) is buying the Gaynor Minden Totally Toes Fitting Kit. It comes with something called box liners that can take a shoe that is *almost* the correct width and make it fit so you aren’t sinking into the box. The kit is very inexpensive and can be found on Amazon.

      Finally, always play with length vs width in shoes. I wear a size 9.5 – 10.5 US size depending on the brand of shoe. Sometimes I can buy a size 7.5 with a 4X width, and other times I need a size 8 pointe shoe with a narrower, size 3X width. Pointe shoes are made by hand, and two pairs in the same length/width may feel different.

      Hopefully some of this was helpful! Please let me know if you have any further questions. 🙂

      Good luck

      • abc says:

        Thank you so much for your response! Since all of the pointe shoes from your list are not available in my small city (apart from Grishko 2007, which are not available in my size), my teacher decided to sent an outline of my feet to Freed of London so that they can measure my feet and suggest a fitting pair. I know that this is not a guarantee that the pair will acutally fit, but we came to the conclusion that it was the best solution… We´ll see what will come of it!

        • Hello again!

          That’s a great idea, I’ve done the same thing through Gaynor Minden. The shoes they sent me were a perfect fit, but the shank was too weak for me. Freed is a highly reputable company and I suspect you’ll get great advice from their fitters. They should be able to send several pairs for you to try on and return what doesn’t fit. Remember to follow your instincts when it comes to trying on shoes like this, and have your teacher help you. Check for twisting in the shank, sinking in the box, and pain in the big toes on flat and on pointe.

          Ask your teacher to show you different methods of padding your shoes and I’m sure you’ll figure out what you prefer in no time! Don’t be afraid to tweak your fit as you move from pair to pair to determine what you truly need and prefer in a shoe. Best of luck!

  4. Allison says:

    So I have either tapered or peasant feet but when I go onto relevé my feet become Greek-tapered. What should I do about that?

  5. Hannah says:

    Where do I go to get pointe shoes fitted

  6. lisa buman says:

    good info! but now im seeing shoes that you put in the fridge and then blow dry them to get the fit, not sure if thats a good thing or bad?

    • Hi Lisa!

      Shoes that you blow dry and freeze are a newer technology that isn’t necessarily bad or good. It all depends whether the shoe fits and how well the shank and box holds up for you personally. We haven’t personally tested this type of technology other than using a hairdryer to slightly re-shape the shank on a pair of Gaynor Minden shoes, but that experience worked well for us.

      That said, it’s worth a try! Technology comes and goes, and this one seems to be sticking around so it must work for quite a few people. Sorry this is a slightly vague answer. 🙂 Best of luck!

  7. Simone says:

    The one thing that I have a question about is the length of the wings on the shoes? What is your input on wing length?

    • Hi Simone!

      Wing length is something we don’t include in our pointe shoe finder yet. It’s something difficult to determine unless you have each pointe shoe model physically in front of you to feel.

      Wings can be impacted by a few different parts of the shoe. The wings are technically where the reinforced box ends and the sating & lining of the rest of the shoe begins. Some makers offer longer, graduated wings and others the box ends abruptly inside the shoe. GM shoes for example have a pretty short box and wings, while a Capezio shoe will have longer more graduated wings.

      The throat shape (U or V) of the shoe impacts the wings– a shoe with a V shaped throat tends to have higher wings than a shoe with a U shaped throat. The wings in your shoe should be long enough to cover the metatarsal area where bunions would form. Extra long wings can aid in holding a dancer back in her shoe, but won’t impact her ability to get over the box as much as say, vamp length would. Wings that are too short won’t offer much support of the metatarsal and can cause some instability in the shoe, particularly if the shoes are too wide.

      Hopefully that sort of answers your question! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  8. Cat says:

    Wish you had been around 35 years ago when I was ruining my feet and toenails with pointe shoes! I just got bunion surgery, so I know the downside of not having shoes that fit well. Yes, ladies, take it from me, it’s worth more than you ever know to get properly fitted pointe shoes. PointePerfect is doing a huge favor for the dreams and aspirations of dancers the world over.

  9. Lisa says:

    Hi! So I am 13 years old and doing ballet. I am about to go onto pointe but I have bunions that have not been corrected. What kind of shoes should I get? Should I just get normal pointe shoes? Or a shoe with special features?

    • Hi Lisa! Thanks for stopping by!

      Bunions can get worse with pointe work if you aren’t careful with your padding and shoe selection. Without seeing your feet it’s hard to say exactly what shoes you should buy. I do recommend buying a toe pad that is intended for people with bunions,

      I would suggest being fitted for shoes WITH this type of corrective padding. It’s very important to straighten out the big toe when you have bunions. A slightly tapered or fully tapered box will coax the big toe into bending towards your 2nd toe, which is something you should avoid with bunions, as it can make them worse. Get fitted with corrective padding and you’ll be more likely to be successful on pointe. You normally don’t want to allow for extra room in the shoe, but this is something you should be almost religious about. Protect your feet, you only get one pair! 🙂

      Good luck, and happy dancing!

  10. Mariana says:

    I’m 13 and have been on pointe for about a year. Where I live not a lot of pointes are available, I have a short vamp, a normal arch, egyptian feet, and somewhat wide (medium, medium wide) feet. I’ve tried capezio contempora and they did not work for me :S they shank was too weak and they didn’t fit well my foot shape. I’m looking for Grishko, Bloch or Gaynor to shop online, what would you recomend?

    • Hi Mariana, sorry for the late reply!

      Based on what you’ve told me, I do have some suggestions for shoes to try. It’s hard to suggest an exact length & width though, as each manufacturer is very different in sizing and terminology. The best bet would be to order a few pairs and send back anything that doesn’t fit, if that’s possible for you financially.

      Fully Tapered box, Medium – Medium Wide Width, short vamp
      Bloch Suprima

      Slightly Tapered box, Medium Width
      Grishko 2007 / 2007 Pro
      Grishko Fouette / Fouette Proflex
      Grishko Maya

      Gaynor Minden would fall into any of these categories. I would suggest looking for box 2 or 3 (Avoid box 4 at all costs), medium or medium wide, with a short vamp. GM also takes foot tracings and the GM fitters can suggest a specific shoe size that way.

      Best of luck, I wish I could give you more specific answers!


  11. Sophie says:

    Hi, I just got Grishko 2007 as my first pair of pointe shoes. Now I´m a little bit confused… Some websites say the Grishkos come in in both 3/4 and full shank, some say only 3/4. If they are 3/4, how can I find out (they seem to have a full shank, but I´m not entirely sure)? Also, is it a bad idea to have a 3/4 shank as a beginner? Yes, I know it depends on foot type, arch etc, but since my fitter wasn´t too experienced, I had to decide for myself whether the shoe fit. Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Sophie, thanks for stopping by!

      The Grishko 2007 features a 3/4 shank, I think you can pay to have them specially made with a full length shank, but don’t quote me on that!

      The shank length (3/4 vs. full) isn’t really a feature that is for beginners or experienced dancers specifically, mostly just based on foot shape as you mentioned. A 3/4 shank can help a dancer with more inflexible arches achieve full pointe easier than a full shank. It can also help the shank and sole of the shoe conform better to the dancer’s arch, creating a pretty line. A full shank will help a dancer that has really super flexible feet and arches stay more supported and lifted out of her shoe.

      Hopefully that makes sense– the 2007 is one of the most popular and widely sold shoes on the market, and have been known to work for a huge variety of dancers with wildly different foot types. I hope you like them, and congrats on the first pair!

      Happy Dancing!

      – L

  12. Brie says:

    Hi PointePerfect! I have egyptian narrow feet. I wear 8 in street shoes if you want me to refer to brushing the edge. My ballet slippers are size 9. I have a high arch, and my toes are medium long.My feet are tapered. I heard harder shanks are better for beginners. These will be my first pair of pointe shoes. I am not in a huge rush. I really badly want to get my pointe shoes soon though. Also…Any products to help my feet? Also…any kits for sewing perfect for? THANK YOU!!

    • Hi Brie, thanks for stopping by!

      Sorry for the late reply, but I wanted to offer some suggestions for shoes to try on. Without seeing your feet, it’s hard to suggest extremely specific shoes to try, but here is a list of shoes that offer a fully tapered box, made for long slender feet, which it sounds like you have!

      Bloch Suprima
      Bloch Axis
      Capezio Pavlowa
      Grishko Ulanova II
      Grishko Vaganova
      Russian Pointe Entrada
      Russian Pointe Encore
      Suffolk Captivate
      Suffolk Instinct

      Avoid pointe shoes that visually look very square and boxy from the outside! Check out our pointe shoe finder to input your own foot type and get a similar list of shoes, you can dig a little deeper with more specifics if you’d like. http://pointeperfect.com//DanceGear/pointeshoefinder

      Other than that, shank strength is usually something instructors prefer to dictate, but avoid a very hard shank if you are slender and lightweight, they may give you big problems getting over your box.

      I also suggest picking up the Gaynor Minden Totally Toes Fitting Kit. It comes with several different types of spot padding and is usable in any make/model of shoes. They can really help you customize the fit of an almost perfect shoe.

      My main suggestion is to try on as many shoes as possible. Find a store that has a huge selection and go in expecting to be there for 1-2 hours. The more shoes you try on, the better idea you’ll have of what you want and need in a shoe.

      Best of luck, and enjoy the journey!

      • Brie says:

        Thanks!! My aunt has been on pointe for a year and recommended capezio tiffanys…. I am about 98 lbs i am kind of light for my age.. I tried on my aunts pointe shoes, and I couldnt get up on the box because her feet are wide and she has a square box…She has blochs but the style was rubbed off… THANK YOU for the info!

        • Brie says:

          also I forgot….What size would I be? I am 8 1/2 in balls of feet area, my whole foot is 10 in, Sorry for more replies 😀

          • Hi Brie!

            Chances are very good that your aunt’s shoes won’t be right for you. Each model of pointe shoe is so completely different from one another, even sisters most likely won’t take the same shoe style!

            In the same respect, each manufacturer uses completely different sizing standards, width standards and terminology. A Grishko 2007 in a size 8 medium width will be completely different than a Capezio Aria size 8 medium width.

            Sizing is really tough to predict. For example, I wear a size 9.5 in US street shoes. My current pair of Grishkos is a size 7.5– the manufacturer recommends starting 2-3 sizes below street shoe size. In Russian Pointe I wear a size 42, as they use European sizing standards. In Capezio I’m both an 8.5 and an 11, as both models I’ve purchased from the same maker use different sizing. In Gaynor Minden I’m an 11. It’s soooo different for each shoe!

            I highly recommend you be fitted professionally for your first few pairs of shoes, until you learn what exactly you prefer and what feels right. Even seeing pics & measurements of your feet, it would be very difficult to suggest a proper shoe length.

            Good luck!

          • Brie says:

            Sorry for keeping your email busy! I dont have a choice where I live to go to a fitter. It is 8 hours away. Is there a way to fit yourself at home? Thanks again!

          • Hi Brie, no worries!

            Gaynor Minden and Freed both offer online fitting options. You can print off a few forms, trace your feet, and the companies will suggest the right make/model of shoe in their lines. This may be your best bet and the best way to find a shoe that will work for you.

            Pro vs. Student pointe shoes are an interesting concept– I don’t really consider there to be a difference, but many of the “pro” models have special sound-proofing to reduce noise on stage.

          • Brie says:

            and whats the difference between pro pointe shoes and normal pointe shoes

      • Brie says:

        Hey pointe perfect! How do I send a picture of my feet? Thx, Brie

  13. Mer says:

    Can you give picture examples of different heel types and profile hight. I am getting Demi pointe shoes to prepare me for pointe since I will be going up soon

  14. Alie Martin says:

    Hi there! I am a 14 year old girl who has been dancing in pointe shoes for a little over a year. I haven’t found a magical pair yet. The problem with my feet is that my toes roll over the top of the shoe allowing me to break my box in really quickly. I have gone through three pairs in a month. I order hard shank but after five uses in my shoes they are broken in. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on shoes for me. I have gone and gotten professional fittings but none of the shoes work.
    Thanks so much for any suggestions.

    • Hi Alie,

      I’m so sorry to hear you are having so many troubles! I too have very strong feet and flexible arches, so I also roll over the box and break in my boxes pretty quick. A big part of this issue is strength. You may have very strong feet, but you need to teach yourself to control your strength and flexibility. It’s not good to be continually rolling over your platform, pushing too far. I know I get scolded in class regularly for this exact thing! You are young and still have time to correct this habit, and if dance is something you are looking to pursue I suggest making a conscious effort to hold yourself back in the shoe, not rolling over the front edge of the platform, but with the box flat on the floor. It’s really hard, especially when everyone wants the beautiful flexible springy high arches like you probably have!

      Rolling too far over your box can cause some wicked injuries, in addition to wearing out shoes like it’s nothing. There are qualities you can look for in a shoe to help hold you back, and things you can do to current shoes to help, too, but most of the fight will probably be learning to use your strength to hold you back in a shoe.


      -First of all, look for shoes with a long vamp and/or high wings. This shoe will help hold you back and prevent you from going too far over the box.

      -Elastic right at the vamp/throat of the shoe can do wonders for holding you back in the shoe. Gaynor Minden for example sells “vamp elastic”, but you can also sew pieces together horizontally and create the same effect.

      -You didn’t mention what make/model you buy currently, but you may want to consider ordering custom shoes. I know it’s expensive, but it can really prolong the life of your shoes. Grishko offers an extra extra hard shank as a special order. You may also consider a shoe with a synthetic shank to prolong the life such as Grishko Dreampointe or Gaynor Minden. Be careful with the Gaynor Mindens though, too weak of a shank and your feet will look really weird and you will constantly roll over the shoe.

      It’s hard to suggest specific shoes without seeing pics of your feet and current shoes, but hopefully that helps! Ask your teacher for exercises to strengthen and control the arch. The basics are frustrating to go back to, but it will be worth it to spend time at home practicing simple releve and eschappe to work on your muscle memory.

      Best of luck!

  15. Emily says:

    Thank you so much for providing all this info! I’m back up on pointe after 15 years away, and I when I went to get my shoes, I didn’t really know what I wanted, but I felt like I wasn’t going in totally blind. However, the store that I went to doesn’t really know how to fit shoes, and I had no idea how big a range there was to choose from now. I’ve been miserable in my shoes, and my teacher suggested I think about getting a different pair, but I wasn’t sure it was the shoes (and not just my form). I started to do some research and stumbled across your site! I’ve learned so much about pointe shoes, and I started to see that, while my form does need plenty of correction, the shoes I had were completely wrong for my feet. I went ahead and made a fitting appointment with the shop that’s sort of seen as the experts in our area, even though it’s a couple of hours away. Finally had my fitting yesterday and I’m completely in love with my new shoes! When I put them on, they actually felt good, and I could just tell they were right for my feet. I don’t know if I would have felt confident to pay out the money for new shoes had I not had my eyes opened by what I read on your site.

    My feet:
    Medium-high arch, very flexible and strong (and I’m overweight, so I put even more strain on the shank)
    Very compressible
    Size 6 street, wide
    Normal heel
    Very tapered from toe to heel

    My old shoes were Bloch Heritage, size 4.5 XXX. The problems I had were that my toes bled almost every class and it felt like I was dancing in concrete. The shank broke in super fast and they twisted like crazy. In retrospect, here’s what I think happened: when I was trying them on, we were trying to decide between XXX width and XX width. I think the narrower ones felt so tight when I was standing flat, plus the taper of the box squeezed my toes so much, that I thought I needed the wider shoe. However, I think it allowed me to sink down into the shoe once I was up on the box, which squeezed my toes even more. Additionally, I grew to hate the high profile–as angled as it is, and as flexible as my feet and ankles are, I was constantly over the box and felt every class like I was in danger of breaking something (not the shoe). I’ve actually had a hard time completing many exercises away from the barre because it’s been so painful, and I’ve broken down my platforms in a very weird way. The bottom edge of the platform is broken down much more than the top edge, because I’m always having to fight against the shoes to keep from rolling over, and there’s an angled flat part of the box at my big toes where I’m having to wing my foot even when I’m standing on it because of how the platform makes my ankles hyperextend. (My bourrees look ridiculous.)

    My new shoes are Suffolk Stellars. I haven’t danced in them yet, so the jury is still out, but they felt so right in the store, I think they’re going to be great! The box feels right on my toes, and the width is right, so now that I’m not sinking down in the box, I can actually work on engaging my toes and lifting out of it better. The shank might still be just soft enough that they’ll break in pretty fast, but I’m kind of glad that I won’t be fighting against a super hard shank while I’m getting used to shoes that actually fit. The platform isn’t super low but it’s much closer to 90 degrees, so when I went up on pointe I felt absolutely solid. I also splurged on some nicer pads, and they feel so good on my feet. I was actually surprised to find that there was a Freed that also felt like it fit the moment I put it on, and I might look into that one next time. For now, the fit and the shank hardness were a little too forgiving, and the less-defined platform is probably better for me to tackle once I’m more secure in my form and my dancing. I even got to try some Gaynor Mindens, and the first time I put them on, they felt so awful and weird, but after just a couple of minutes I started to get used to the difference and they really, really grew on me. Again, the platform was less defined, and then the store didn’t have any that they thought were the ones I really needed–they only had a 3 box and the fitter said she’d really rather see me in a 4 box (and they’re expensive!), so I didn’t get any now but I definitely see a possibility of getting them in the future.

    • Hi Emily!

      Wow, I love your story! Well, not the part about the terrible pain you must have been with your old pair, but that you have found success and a shoe that seems to really fit! High five on learning about your feet and applying that during your pointe fitting. I’d love to see pics of your feet in the old shoes vs the new ones. I’m a total geek about things like that!

      Your story reminds me that width isn’t really about the width of the toe box, but more like the back 2/3 of the shoe.

      It does sound like the GM box 4 would be the best shape for your toes if they are more peasant/square-ish. If that’s the route you feel like taking in the future, consider submitting your foot tracings to GM. I’d recommend going to the pointe shop to just try shanks again to see which you need. I am heavier than the average ballet dancer and ordered an extraflex, which is just too weak for my frame/size/foot flexibility. Next time I’ll order a hard shank. 🙂

      Best of luck, I’d be interested to hear how the Stellars feel after your next class!

  16. Ashleigh says:

    Ive found this so helpful in learning to understand each aspect and its importance of a pointe shoes.
    However its been a few years since I danced on pointe last, and my current shoes (Grishko Fouette proflex, 4.5 XXX) are too short. So I was refitted to a 5, but I’m hesitant to buy them as my dance teacher recommends Freeds, and I’m curious to try them out, as I have heard a lot about them.
    Are there any similar shoes to mine within that brand that you would recommend? Iv’e found it a bit hard looking online, as my nearest stockist is 6 hours away 🙁


    • Hi Ashleigh! Welcome back to pointe, glad to hear you are getting back into the swing of things. 🙂

      Sadly I haven’t finished my evaluation of the Freed shoes to an extent that I can add them to the Pointe Shoe Finder. It’s more complicated than normal with all of the various makers and slight variances between models. I am not at a point where I can suggest particular Freed makers or models, though a huge number of the ballet population wears Freed, so it’s safe to say they make great shoes!

      I do have several shoes in my database that are similar to the Grishko Fouette Proflex, which has the following attributes:

      -Slightly Tapered Box
      -Medium Vamp
      -Medium Profile
      -Medium Platform & Heel

      Shoes with the same attributes, but won’t all necessarily *feel* the same:

      -Suffolk Solo
      -Grishko Ulanova 1 (I believe these have been discontinued, though you can still find some here and there)
      -Grishko Maya 1
      -Capezio Tiffany / Tiffany Pro
      -Capezio Contempora / Contempora Pro (Note- the standard Contempora has a very weak shank, though the Pro comes in a “hard”)

      There are surely others outside of my current database, I’m positive Freed will have a shoe that is similar to the Fouette Proflex. Freed offers a program for submitting your own foot tracings to get make/model/sizing suggestions online, so it may be worth a look before you make a 6 hour trek to find a pair!

      Best of luck!

  17. Meghma Sen says:

    This site has been really helpful, but I have one question about the shank!
    My foot shape is Greek+tapered so which pointe should fit me the best? I have a normal arch and I have compressible feet.

  18. Emily says:

    I’ve had this pair of Grishko 2007s for about three months and I’ve noticed that every time I’m on releve on one foot, I’m getting over the box, but my shank appears to bend at the middle of the shoe. Is this because the shoes are dead, or because they aren’t the right fit for me? I’ve only been en pointe for about six months, so I’m not great at recognizing these things.

    If it helps, I have Greek+tapered, non-compressible feet with medium length toes and a relatively flexible arch (my toes are about an inch away from the ground when I sit on the floor with my legs outstretched).


    • Hi Emily! I had a similar experience with a pair of 2007’s, it turned out the problem for me was a combination of a shank that was too weak, and ribbons tied in the wrong place on the shoe, pulling the shank in an awkward place. This was my first pair of pointe shoes after returning to dance, and when I was breaking in the shoes I broke the peak of the arch a little too low, as well. The difference between you and I here, is that I couldn’t get over the box at all. I was able to eventually fix the pair, breaking them in correctly and fixing my ribbons/elastic. I also swapped feet and was able to dance on them for another few weeks.

      Another time I completely snapped the middle of my shank in half, also because the shank was 1 level too weak, so they didn’t last long. If your shank is snapped you should be able to tell by flexing the shank where it is bending while you are on pointe. If it creases/bends easily or easier than your other shoe, you most likely have a snapped shank! You may be able to super glue this type of shoe for a few classes, but you’ll ultimately end up with a new pair.

      Since those disaster shoes, I have purchased a few additional pairs of the 2007 model that have been lovely– I doubt it’s that the shoe is bad for you, but more like it broke in weird or the shank is snapped. Hopefully that helps! Worst case scenario, it may be time to pick up a new pair of shoes and break them in very carefully. 🙂

      Best of luck!

  19. Anna says:

    Well based on your site my foot is egyption shape with med length toes, med width. I have a disappearing heel and tailors bunions on my little toes. I have very strong ankles and high arches. I wear about a 6 in street shoes. What shoes do you suggest I start with to try on?

    • Hi Anna! Thanks for stopping by! Without seeing your feet for reference it’s hard to suggest the exact length, width, etc that will suit you best in each shoe model, but based on the information you provided I added the following filters to my Pointe Shoe Finder:

      Egyptian/Tapered toes = Tapered Box
      Medium length toes = Medium vamp

      Shoes returned:
      So Danca Grisi
      Russian Pointe Entrada
      Russian Pointe Encore
      Gaynor Minden
      Capezio Pavlowa

      I did not input the low heel specs, as the fully tapered shoe category is limited as it is, and I find what’s going on with the box/vamp/width to be much more important than heel fit. I’d sacrifice heel fit for an otherwise perfect fit in the rest of a shoe if need be.

      I also didn’t enter any width properties to the finder despite your saying that you have medium width feet. Bunions make pointe fitting a smidge more complicated, depending on the size of the bunion, how painful it is, and whether you wear any corrective padding, etc. I would suggest that you purchase a gel bunion guard for your little toes before being fitted for pointe shoes, and purchase shoes that will accommodate the bunion pads. is the type of pad I’d suggest. Prolonged dancing in pointe shoes without bunion protection can cause them to worsen over time, which nobody wants!

      Depending on the size of your toepads and any bunion pads, you may need to go from a fully tapered shoe to a slightly tapered shoe. There are much more choices out there in a slightly tapered box, so I was able to break down your heel needs further.

      Slightly Tapered Box
      Medium Vamp
      Low Heel

      Gaynor Minden
      Grishko Miracle
      Grishko Nova

      Taking the heel out of the equation again results in 20 models that have a Slightly Tapered box & Medium Vamp: Here is a link to the Finder with that search criteria.

      Best of luck! Hopefully that helps, it’s so complicated I may have just confused you further. Please let me know if you have any questions. 🙂


  20. Freya says:

    Hi Lindsay!
    I’m busy with rehearsals these weeks and recently I started having some problems with my feet. I have greek tapered compressible feet with high arches which are wide when standing flat bur narrow when pointed and squeezed. My 4 smaller toes naturally curl a bit, but I realized the second toe is much longer than the big toe when I take off my pointe shoes after rehearsal. 3 weeks ago my nail on the big toe peeled off and they couldn’t properly grow back on, and I get bruises on the tip of my toe due to hopping on pointe in the act 1 variation from giselle. Also, I find the nails of both of my second toes thickening and starting to peel off. I kept the nails on to make sure I can manage my rehearsals. My second toe experiences great pain in it from yesterday after lots of pique turns on pointe, I iced it but it didn’t help with the pain at all. I started not to want to go on pointe tomorrow…. I’m currently wearing grishko maya 1 4.5 xxx M(which is a bit too soft for me) for classes, and Gaynor Minden 8, #3 medium, extra flex with the box liner for rehearsal. My feet don’t slide into the box when standing, but my toes feel jammed against the platform when doing moves with small jumps onto pointe such as piques. I started pointe late (only for a year till now) as a 16-year-old, and I am good at bearing with all the pains that ballet brings me. But I’m growing increasingly worried for my feet and start doubting if my shoes aren’t the right fit. My local dance shops only sell sansha shoes and none of them fit my flexible feet. I get all my current shoes through online fitting…. Oh also, I got a new pair of freed studios hard shank, E, size 4.5. They are beautiful and provide excellent balance, but my pinky’s nail feels squeezed against the box and the tip of my second toe also hurts. Can you please recommend some solutions to these problems?(I don’t have enough time to get new shoes before my performance) And recommend some shoes that I can buy in the future? Thank you!

    • Hello Freya! Thanks for stopping by! I’m sorry to hear you are in so much pain & losing toenails. When it’s painful enough that you feel apprehension about going to class, that’s a sure sign you could use a better fit.

      Compressible feet are so challenging to fit properly. Mine are similar to yours– and I too realized recently that at least one of my feet is a Greek Taper as well! It was an a-ha moment for sure. I personally feel that I need a very narrow box to truly support my compressible feet, but if I buy them too narrow the shank twists badly off my arch. It’s such a delicate balance. And, with extremely compressible feet, your foot is more likely to conform to the shape of the shoe, rather than the shoe molding around your foot.

      So I’d recommend a few things to make it through your performances.

      –Pick up an extra set of the GM box liners. It may seem strange, but it may benefit you to wear two liners to really keep you lifted out of the box. This should help give your poor 2nd & 1st toes a break. If 2 liners adds too much bulk to certain points of your feet, you can try cutting holes in the 2nd box liner wherever the pressure is most intense– probably on either sides of the foot where bunions would form, and possibly above your 2nd toe knuckle. This will help keep you lifted from the very end of the shoe while relieving the pressure of the extra liner in the shoe.

      — Make sure you are taping those bruised toenails, and the toes where the nails have fallen off. A foam tape will help cushion them without too much bulk! You may even try out the liquid bandage product to help keep your toenails on.

      — Try to not overpad with thick pads. Gel toe caps for your most painful toes may help, but your aim should be to bring your 1st & 3rd toes as close to the length of your 2nd toe as possible. Most people’s first thought is to pad the area that hurts, but if you add thick pads to your longest toe it’ll just add more pressure. Instead you want to redistribute the pressure to a larger surface area to reduce overall pain! This may involve stuffing a little lambs wool into toecaps to help lengthen your shorter toes.

      — For the Freeds, try to slightly flatten the box (just a little at a time until you are satisfied!) to give yourself some extra width in the shoe. If the box is too round for your foot you’ll definitely get pain in either two bunion areas, or sometimes individual toes, like your little one. If you slightly flatten the box you’ll get more width, at that point you still have your GM box liners available if needed to adjust the fit. You can also try taping the little toe to the 4th toe– this will keep it aligned while also protecting it from blisters.

      For your future fittings…..
      – I suspect you may need a slightly longer shoe than you’ve been wearing lately. You need the length to accommodate any padding you might use to even up the length of at least your 1st & 2nd toes, and to allow your 2nd toes to lay flat. Again, if you are having troubles with toes curling in the shoes, try taping them to their neighbors, it helps!

      Some shoes to consider in the future. It’s hard to suggest an exact size, width, make & model without seeing your feet, but here’s what I suggest based on what you told me about your feet. Here are the specs I searched by:
      – Slightly Tapered box
      – Narrow Width
      – Long Vamp (based on your high arches)
      – Hard shank (based on your current dislike of the Grishko Maya Medium shank)

      My Pointe Shoe Finder gave me several suggestions. If you input these specs and go further with your preferred profile height and heel type, you’ll get more specific results:

      Capezio Contempora ES– Strongest Capezio shank, but the profile is quite high
      Gaynor Minden– I’d recommend trying for a longer length and possibly a Box #2 if you try again, but I’d be very wary of that
      Russian Pointe Almaz & Sapfir– Same shoe, but the Sapfir is pre-arched if that’s something you prefer like with the Gaynor Minden
      Suffolk Apprentice
      Wear Moi La Pointe– These shoes are gorgeous, I’d love to try a pair for myself. Super customizable. I don’t have in person experience with them, but they look excellent for high arched, strong footed dancers.
      So Danca– I’m not intimately familiar with this maker, but they should be close to correct in shape.
      Merlet Kaliste or Empreinte
      Repetto La Carlotta

      So this has been super long winded, sorry for the novel. Please don’t hesitate to ask any more questions if you have them! Best of luck, I hope you can resolve the issues with your fit!


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