Ballerina slippers are just about the most important thing to a ballet dancer. For the comfort, wear and design, these shoes are essential to molding you into the finest dancer.
You will most probably own more than one type of ballerina slipper in your dance wardrobe. You have your ballet flats you wear for demi-pointe work, pointe shoes for advanced work, and even literally a pair of comfy slippers you wear to keep your feet snug outside of class.
Just like the average person, the choice of shoes for dancers is vast and we are spoilt for choice!
Even so, nearly every ballet dancer still finds it difficult to find their perfect pair of pointe shoes.
Eventually, the aim is to have your pointe shoes to fit like a glove and comfy enough to (painlessly!) walk around.
Every professional dancer has gone on their own quest to find the perfect pointe shoe. They would have tried many different brands such as Bloch, Freed, Capezio until they felt satisfied with the maker that works with their feet best.
I spent a whole year just purely experimenting with Freed pointe shoes. Before that, I had tried Bloch, Bob Martin and Gaynor Minden. For me, I felt that my feet were quite ‘fussy’ when it came to pointe shoes. Not just any pointe shoe looked or felt right on my feet!
I have very flexible feet with a high arch, so the support I needed was crucial to make me feel comfortable dancing on pointe. Many times, it felt like my pointe shoes were too soft or just not strong enough to meet the demands of class work on pointe.
It is a strength issue as well with how much you need your feet supported in the shoes. Strength for a dancer means having the stability in your muscles and power to accomplish the ballet moves with precision and perfection.
You need strength all over the body, but especially in the major muscles groups for ballet. The main muscles in the legs for dancers is the glutes and adductors, which initiates turn out. The hamstrings are also a major muscle because it is such a dominant part of every movement in the legs.
Eventually I stopped asking the shoe makers to make my pointe shoes harder and harder to be more supportive! I accepted I had to strengthen my feet myself to use my whole leg and muscles to support me on pointe, not just put all the emphasis on my poor feet.
There is not just one answer to why pointe shoes can be so tricky to find, but having experimented with a lot of not-so-good pointe shoes myself, I can understand how even the tiniest adjustment in your shoes can make a big difference.
You must be smart with all your dance shoes and figure out why they are not comfortable, or causing you pain. There is always a solution, so make sure your feet are fitted perfectly in your shoes and dance to your fullest potential!