Thank you to Brenda R. Neville and Freed of London for the content here today…to SAB student Ashley McAleer for her time, and to Christopher Duggan for his photography…
Making sure your pointe shoes fit properly is of the utmost importance. For all pointe shoes, it is crucial that the length, width, and box fit the foot correctly so that the shoe can provide adequate support and help prevent injury. There should also be enough freedom of movement so that the dancer can perform in them without feeling restricted.
Each pointe shoe manufacturer varies slightly in the way their shoes fit. Freed pointe shoe sizing converts down to about 2.5 sizes below a US Street shoe size. This is a good guideline to begin with—then you should know what to look for in the feel of the shoe once it’s on.
When trying on a Freed pointe shoe, the width should be snug enough so that you feel some resistance across your metatarsal as you push your foot into the block/box. Think of it feeling like a sock–but not pinching, with the ball and sole of the foot able to lie flat on the floor with ease. Freeds will stretch and widen across the box to mold and shape to the dancer’s individual foot. For this reason it is important that the shoes aren’t too wide when purchased.
Next you’ll want to check the length. To do this, stand in second position and do a demi plie. Your toes should just be touching the end of the box but they shouldn’t push or feel jammed inside with all toes laying flat on the floor. You should be able to feel even weight distribution on the little toe joint, the big toe joint and the center of the heel in this position, and the block should be ‘cupping’ your toes.
Next, place one foot en pointe without transferring your body weight. If the outer sole of the shoe remains flat against the pad of your heel, your shoe is the right width for you. If your sole twists away from your foot, the shoe is too narrow. At this time, also check that the block/box completely covers the toe joints and that the toes are all the way ‘down’ into the bottom of the box.
To double-check the length of the shoe, go en pointe on both feet and transfer your body weight onto your toes. The back of the shoe’s drawstring casing should be flush against your heel (there may be some pinch of fabric toward the back/bottom of the heel which is ok. The amount of pinch depends on your individual heel shape–especially if you have a ‘disappearing’ heel). If the shank of the shoe is already flush under your arch and the back of the sole of the shoe extends beyond the pad of your heel, the shoe is too long, or it could be too wide and you are ‘sinking’. If so, try a narrower width or maker, or adjust the length.
Once you have determined your correct length and width, based on the fitting guidelines above, then you can experiment with our different makers/cobblers to further find the block/box shape (tapered, medium, square) that best suits your individual foot and toe shape. The overall process may take a little time, but it’s well worth it when you find shoes that match your feet perfectly.
In order to insure the proper fit, it can be very helpful to have a Professional Fitter help you through this process. To set up a pointe shoe fitting at Freed of London in New York, or to place an order you can call 866-693-7333. You can also get fitting advice for pointe shoes, jazz shoes, dancesport shoes and flamenco shoes at Freed’s site.
Join us next week for an interview with Freed’s Professional Fitter, Brenda Neville.
Thank you to Christopher Duggan for the photography in our Freed posts:
Contributor Christopher Duggan is the founder and principal photographer of Christopher Duggan Photography, a New York City-based wedding and dance photography studio. Duggan has been the Festival Photographer for Jacob’s Pillow Dance since 2006. In this capacity, and as a respected New York-based dance photographer, he has worked with renowned choreographers and performers of international acclaim as well as upstarts in the city’s diverse performance scene.
He has created studio shots of Gallim Dance, Skybetter + Associates and Zvidance, among others, and in 2011 alone, he has photographed WestFest at Cunningham Studios, Dance From the Heart for Dancers Responding to Aids, The Gotham Dance Festival at The Joyce Theater, and assisted Nel Shelby Productions in filming Vail International Dance Festival.
Duggan often teams up with his talented wife and Pillow videographer Nel Shelby (http://nelshelby.com). A New York City-based husband and wife dance documentation team, they are equipped to document performances, create and edit marketing videos and choreography reels, and much more.
Christopher Duggan Photography also covers Manhattan’s finest wedding venues, the Metropolitan and Tri-State areas, and frequently travels to destination weddings. The company’s mission is straightforward and heartfelt – create timeless, memorable images of brides, grooms, their families and friends, and capture special moments of shared love, laughter and joy.
His photographs appear in The New York Times, Destination I Do, Photo District News, Boston Globe, Financial Times, Dance Magazine, Munaluchi Bridal, and Bride & Bloom, among other esteemed publications and popular wedding blogs. One of his images of Bruce Springsteen was added to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s celebrated photography collection in 2010. His company has been selected for inclusion in “The Listings” in New York Weddings magazine.