Discount Pointe Shoes
No wonder dancers are always on the lookout for cheap pointe shoes! Of all the items in a ballet dancer's wardrobe, pointe shoes are the biggest expense.
Pointe shoes have a short lifespan, and there's only so much you can do with jet glue or shellac to make them last longer. We can keep dancing in a pair of soft ballet slippers even when we've worn through the toe - thank goodness for gaffer tape! - but once a pair of pointe shoes is dead, it's not only difficult but possibly dangerous to dance in them. There's no choice but to replace them - and preferably, as cheaply as possible!
Unfortunately, because they're such a specialist item, it's hard to find places that offer decent discounts. But there is one surprising source - Amazon!
Admittedly, I wouldn't recommend you buy pointe shoes on Amazon if you're not sure exactly what you want. I can't imagine an Amazon staffer being particularly helpful with the finer points of whether a particular shoe is suited for Egyptian or Grecian feet...
However, if you know what you want, there's no reason why not! The prices are competitive - in fact, I don't think I've ever seen a pointe shoe cheaper than the Capezio Concerto on Amazon. The list price is around $40 but I've seen it discounted as low as $25.
The Concerto has a square box, best for Giselle feet. If that doesn't suit you, the rest of Capezio's range is also available.
There's a good selection from other pointe shoe brands too, including the hugely popular Grishko 2007, the best-selling Bloch Serenade, and not forgetting Gaynor Mindens.
A more obvious source of cheap pointe shoes is eBay.
The cheapest shoes on eBay are usually advertised by dancers who've bought a pair of pointe shoes and decided they're a misfit (we've all been there, done that!). If that's the case, always ask the seller how far they've broken them in - or even worn them - before deciding they weren't suitable.
Any dancer should know better than to try selling a pointe shoe if she's already ripped half the shank out or mashed the box - but you'd be surprised...
Don't let that put you off, though. You might miss out on a great bargain! Just make sure you do your research, and check the seller's feedback rating and their returns policy before making a bid.
Another good source of shoes is ballet companies - yes, if you see a pair of shoes advertised as "from NYCB", they really are from New York City Ballet! The big companies buy their shoes in bulk, and sometimes find themselves with surplus, especially if they decide to change their shoe provider. That surplus can wind up on eBay, and you can benefit.
You'll also find pointe shoes being advertised on eBay by people who sell ballet wear as a business - in which case they'll be brand new, still in the box. Once again, check the seller's feedback rating and especially their returns policy before bidding. You want to be confident you can send the shoes back if they don't fit or have any faults.
A tip for Freed wearers: One of the big frustrations, if you wear Freeds pointe shoes, is that most online sellers won't let you specify the maker. And as all Freed devotees know, different makers of the same model can make the difference between a perfect fit and something that's virtually unwearable. Fortunately there are eBay sellers who recognize this and advertise their shoes with the maker's mark.
For feet that are still growing, it's always safest to go to a ballet shop and having your shoes expertly fitted by a professional pointe shoe fitter. But if that's not an option, then before buying online, please do your research to understand your feet!
Researching Your Pointe Shoes
There are so many factors to consider when choosing the right shoe, it's always best to get expert advice.
However I know many students don't have that choice. If your local ballet shop doesn't have a pointe shoe fitter on staff - or perhaps there's no ballet shop near you at all! - then Pointe Shoes Online is a good resource. It helps you work out your foot shape, and lists virtually all the makes and models available, with suggestions for which foot shape they're best suited to. They also have a free Q&A service.
Yes, it will take a few hours to understand your foot shape and research which shoes are most likely to fit - but badly chosen, badly fitted shoes can cause injury as well as wasted money, so it's worth the investment!
Finally, A Word of Warning...
Because it cost such a lot to replace them, it can be tempting to keep on dancing in shoes that are "dead" - but it's dangerous. This video details the warning signs that your shoes need replacing, and also offers tips on how to look after your shoes properly, so the next pair will last longer:
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