The Bloch pointe shoe comes in various styles including Sylphide, Sonata, Suprima, Serenade, Aspiration, Concerta, Triomphe, and Alpha Sole. Beginner dancers may match Sylphide, Sonata, or Suprima. The Sylphide has larger widths than other Bloch pointe shoes and makes beginners roll up more quickly with untrained feet.
For beginners and advanced students, the Suprima will feel comfortable as it provides excellent flexibility while maintaining good arch support. Remember that sure Bloch pointe shoes have a narrower box shape and a snug heel not appropriate for a fleshy foot. Shoes like Aspiration and Alpha Point Shoe are built for the advanced student. This shoes give more excellent arch stability, but should not be worn without solid feet and ankles.
Capezio Pointe Shoes includes several styles for specific needs. The original GlissÈ features a hard shank, large toe box, and U-shaped vamp to allow dancers to roll comfortably to the floor. The GlissÈ ES offers the same but harder shank. The GlissÈ Pro and Pro ES are intended for more experienced dancers and feature lower side and back height, respectively, with mild and rough leg. The thankless Demi Soft is based on GlissÈ concept for pre-point students.
PliÈ style is best suited for dancers needing a vamp extending beyond the toe. PliÈ I offers a medium shank, PliÈ II has a harder # 5 shank. The Tendu style offers a medium leg and boasts a quick break-in time. Tendu II has a broader box and screen. Both Aerial and Pavlova shoes feature a Russian tapered case. The Aerial is best to support high arches, while the Pavlova provides a harder shank, more extended vamp and heel. The Contempora is an American-style wide-platform shoe with a more extended vamp and lower heel.
Freed Pointe Shoes
Freed Pointe shoes are available in the Classic, Studio and Studio Pro styles. The various lines are designed for a specific level of dancer, as well as their physical requirements. The handcrafted Classic is mainly designed for the needs of the experienced or professional dancer. It features a deep, round vamp, but those needing more support will favour the deep V-cut vamp and stronger insole of the Classic Wing Block.
The Studio line is intended for the younger dancer and offers extra support. The Studio II style features a broader platform and lower profile than the original. The Studio Pro is also designed for the younger dancer, but it includes a V-shaped vamp and shank for greater flexibility.
Grishko Pointe Shoes
The line of Grishko Pointe shoes features Eleve and Releve models. The Eleve include the Ulanova I and II. These shoes are intended for dancers instructed to roll up on pointe. You can find out more about dancing en pointe at www.balletdancestudio.com. Ulanova I has a medium height vamp and versatile box for dancers with toes of an even or slightly varied length. Ulanova II has a deep vamp and is best suited for dancers with longer toes or narrow feet.
The Relive styles, Fouette and Vaganova, are designed to accommodate the Russian style of springing on point. The Vaganova has a deep vamp and tapered box. This style is particularly suited for dancers with a flexible arch, longer toes or narrow feet. The Fouette has a large table and comprehensive platform best suited for dancers with shorter toes or more full feet.
Gaynor Minden Pointe Shoes
Gaynor Minden Pointe shoes differ from many brands. While manufacturers commonly feature a variety of styles, Gaynor Mindon instead designs shoes over six appropriate options; shank, vamp, heel, regular fit, sleek fit and size. So many variations can feel confusing, but the benefit of this brand is that dancers virtually custom fit their shoes. The entire line is designed to minimize the shock of impact and comfortably fit every type of foot. Shank options run from flexible/little support to hard/ample support. In order from flexible to hard shanks, options are Pianissimo, Featherflex, Supple, Extraflex and Hard. Vamp options include Regular, Deep and Sleek.
A deep vamp is best for dancers with pronounced arches, while the sleek vamp is best for feet more full along with the ball and narrower towards the heel. High, Regular, Low and Sleek heels are available. Choosing between them is mainly a matter of comfort. The Regular and Narrow fit shoes differ only in width, but less heel and vamp options are available with Narrow Fit shoes.
Suffolk Pointe Shoes
Suffolk Pointe shoes include the Solo, which features a slightly tapered box and more extended vamp. It is available with a range of shoe types, Standard insole, Hard insole or Light insole—all but Light feature a standard box which provides uniform support appropriate for most dancers. The Light version is a flexible choice designed to help dancers go on pointe more easily. Hard insoles are available with either a full or shank, so dancers have the option of greater flexibility along with ample support. No matter the variation, the Solo Pointe shoe features a low profile to provide comfort throughout the metatarsal area without sacrificing support or function.
How do you choose?
There is no one shoe that overall is considered better than every other shoe. It is a matter of individually fitting the right footwear to your foot. Be wary of other dancers recommendations because your feet will differ from theirs, and their shoes may feel very uncomfortable on you. You now know the notable brands of pointe shoes and their different characteristics. It would help if you had a good understanding of which style of shoe and which brand will fit best on your feet. I recommend finding an excellent retail dance store with a good shoe fitter. Get them to take you through the process of providing different shoes and working out which shoe will best fit your feet.
Anita Leembruggen is a dance teacher and avid dancer herself. She has written many guides and articles for young and old dancers alike. Anita spends a lot of her time helping students overcome obstacles in their way to dancing success.