Ideally each pair of pointe shoes should be customed designed and specifically moulded to the dancers foot. This is not possible where dancers are distanced from the manufacturers and most dance students in South Africa will have to purchase stock shoes. It is advisable to find a dance supply shop that carries a large selection of sizes and widths in a variety of styles and brands. With various styles available, choosing a point shoe for the first time will require expert advice. Fitting the first shoe requires that the sales person knows, from experience, how to evaluate the dancers feet. Ideally the teacher should be at this first fitting. Stock shoes are designed to provide different degrees of support for various kind of feet. The dancer/student will have to go through a trial and error process to find the most suitable shoe for her particular foot type. Once however this has been found, a reputable supplier of shoes will be able to order these for future purchase.
Fitting of a Point shoe
Shoes must be fitted in the same weight tights that will be worn for class. Standing flat with both shoes on, the toes must not be restricted in the block, but stretched out straight and not bunched in any way. Standing in 2nd in demi-plie, which stretches the heel & toe, the shoe should feel slightly tight with the big toe just touching the front edge of the block. The block should allow free movement of the toes, yet feel firm, but without pressure. On Demi-pointe the shoe should not slip off, but lie smoothly over the heel. On Full Pointe, the shoe's outer sole should reach the heel, The cup around the heel must feel snug, but not so tight as to cause irritation. The vamp covering the forefoot must be neither too loose or too tight, there should not be a gap when on point.
When to start dancing on Pointe
This depends on the pupil's physique and standard of technique acquired. Age is not so much a determining factor as the level of maturity of the body. Metatarsal and Phalangeal bones have cartilage between them. As the body matures cartilage cells disappear and are replaced by bone cells. As cartilage is soft, it could malform in the foot if point work is started too soon. Muscles in the feet must be sufficiently strengthened to manage the extra weight of a pointe shoe. Legs and body must be strong enough to control and maintain the turn-out.
FROM "The Dance Book" by Lorna Haupt.
To order, Tel: (012) 343 9934.