One of the most important ballet dancing accessories are ballet shoes--these are also called pointe shoes. These shoes are required to perform the pointework (en pointe), which is a very important stance in ballet dancing. It is basically a dancing step in which the dancers are required to stand on the tips of their toes. The main purpose of creating these shoes was the desire to look like a sylph and appear totally weightless. As per the history of ballet dancing, these shoes were typically worn by female ballet dancers (ballerinas). Male ballet dancers wear them only when they have to perform unorthodox roles. When it comes to choosing such shoes for beginners, the shoe size, type, and fitting are very important considerations.
Correct Pointe Shoes for a Novice
Most expert ballet dancers advocate that beginners should start learning ballet basics with soft slippers instead of pointe shoes. Since pointework requires a lot of strength and sufficient knowledge about ballet dancing techniques, it is also advised that beginners should not start learning it before the age of 10-12. The correct age and experience level for choosing these shoes depends on the teacher, parents, and sometimes doctors. For choosing the right shoes, you first need to understand the size of your feet, which is very different from measuring your shoe size.
Size of the Shoes
Avoid purchasing shoes that are smaller or bigger than your actual feet size. You should also avoid purchasing shoes that are too tight, at least until you become a professional performer. If the shoes fit too snugly, you should avoid using them as they can cause toe injuries and adverse long term effects. So, loose, tight, or small shoes can cause accidents and constant interruptions in your ballet dancing routine.
Width of the Feet
People with wide feet or high arches should select their shoes accordingly. Always choose shoes that fit perfectly on the feet, and do not pinch or squeeze. Shoes that are too narrow may put pressure on the toes, while those that are too wide can skin your legs. Ill-fitting shoes are an open invitation to troublesome or painful ballet moves and positions.
Vamp of the Shoes
After considering the width and size of the shoes, another essential thing to consider is the vamp. Vamp is the area of the shoes that covers the frontal portion of the feet--the toes. Most shoemakers do not offer variations in the length of the vamp. However, always search for shoes with a larger vamp, which is also called a high vamp. Extra length of the vamp means extra support for pointework. However, if you have narrow feet, then you can buy shoes which have a low vamp.
Shank of the Shoes
The next important thing to consider is the shank of the shoes. Foot size, length, and width varies from person to person, and so does the size of the shank. Shank is that part of the shoe that supports the entire foot. Hence, people with weaker feet and low arches should opt for shoes with soft shanks. On the contrary, people with high arches and stronger feet should opt for stiff shanks. This whole ratio depends on the comfort and skill level of the dancer and instructions of the dance teacher.
When it comes to choosing good pointe shoes while beginning ballet, avoid purchasing designer professional shoes because they are not suitable. Ballet shoes should always be supportive for all ballet postures and dancing moves, especially if you are a beginner.