Pointe Shoes

Written by Jill Morrison
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Pointe shoes are worn by experienced ballet dancers. When ballerinas perform on pointe, the movement appears to be very long, fluid, and elegant. However, it takes a great amount of athleticism and strength to achieve this level of grace while on pointe. For this reason, professional ballerinas perform on pointe more often than beginning or intermediate dance students. Dance students must have a certain level of ballet experience and must be at a certain age before they are allowed to work on pointe at most dance schools.

Qualities of Pointe Shoes

Every style of pointe shoe has distinct qualities that differ from the design of the ballet slipper. A ballet slipper is different from a pointe shoe because it is soft and has a flexible arch. In some cases, ballet slippers also have a split sole to allow for even greater flexibility of the foot. A pointe shoe must have a sturdy and stiff sole to support the foot while a dancer is on pointe.

Pointe shoes have distinct features that allow dancers to stand on their toes comfortably. For instance, the box offers support for the toes and the shank acts as the backbone of the shoe. Most ballerinas will fill the box of each pointe shoe with foam pads, gel pads, or lamb's wool to provide extra cushion for the toes while dancing on pointe.

Many different styles of pointe shoes are available to accommodate a variety of shapes and sizes of feet. Dancers should observe the shape of their feet while standing and should choose a pointe shoe style that is similar in shape. Extra wide, narrow, long, or short designs of shoes are available for dancers. Well-known brands include Capezio, Bloch, Grishko, Leo's, Chacott, and Gaynor Minden.

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