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Foot Shape: Which Pointe Shoes Fit Better for My Feet?
When choosing pointe shoes, the first step is to look at your toes, which can be one of three shapes - Egyptian, Grecian or Giselle. Once you know your toe shape, you can narrow down which shoes will fit you best - tapered, somewhat tapered or square.
Fitting pointe shoes is a skill that takes years of experience! So don't expect to fit your own pointe shoes after reading this article. However, it will help you understand what your fitter is talking about, and help you narrow down a shortlist of shoes which might suit your feet.
There are three basic foot shapes, which are basically three different configurations of the toes:
Grecian (Somewhat Tapered)
The Grecian or Morton's foot is one where the second metatarsal is longer than the first metatarsal - which means your second toe is longer than your big toe.
The solution is to fit your shoe to suit your second toe. You can fill the gap under your big toe with padding. A toe separator may also help.
The good news is that most pointe shoe makers offer at least one shoe suitable for the Grecian foot, so there's quite a wide range to choose from. Probably the best starting point is the best-selling Grishko 2007 shoe. Capezio's Contempora and Aerial shoes are also worth considering.
Egyptian (Tapered Foot)
An Egyptian foot has a big toe that's longer than all the other toes.
The pressure on the big toe means that girls with Egyptian feet can be at greater risk of bunions, especially if their shoes aren't well fitted. The good news is that if you have an Egyptian foot, the pointe shoes that suit you will be among the prettiest, with a beautifully shaped box. The bad news is that the range of shoes for Egyptian feet is much more limited than for Grecian or Giselle foot shapes.
Bloch is unusual in having three models, the Bloch Suprima, Sylphide and Axis.
It may not sound very glamorous to have a Peasant foot, but if you have, you're lucky. It's the easiest to fit and the best suited to pointe work, with the first three toes all the same length so the load is evenly spread.
Some people call this the Giselle foot, which sounds more elegant!
The negative is that you need a square box, so you're not going to be able to wear those beautiful tapered pointe shoes. Sorry!
The runaway best-seller in this category is the Capezio Glisse. Bloch has several good models for Giselle feet, including the Balance European and the Serenade Mk II with its new generation heat-activated paste.
All these factors allow the fitter to choose a shortlist of shoes that may suit you - but there's more!
You must also consider whether you have a low or high arch; how long your toes are; whether your foot is highly compressible or not; and what your foot profile is. Armed with all that information, a good pointe shoe fitter can narrow down the list of suitable shoes even more - but it's not over yet. The next phase is the actual pointe shoe fitting - trying on the shoes and assessing their fit at all the key points, both while you're on the flat and on pointe.
Eventually, you'll arrive at a shoe that seems to tick all the boxes, but you still won't be sure until you dance in it. The search for a pointe shoe is something every ballet dancer goes through - some may strike it lucky with their first pair, whereas others never find the perfect shoes. Even some professional dancers still swap from one brand to another!
You'll find a more thorough explanation of other aspects of foot shape in this article on pointeshoesonline.com.