What is the best pointe shoe brand?
I get this question quite a bit from dancers and parents. And the answer is...
It depends on the dancer, the feet, the strength, the flexibility, the skill level, the weight, the shape, the length and so many other factors.
Although certain brands and models are more popular and generally better quality than others, there is no single brand that encompasses every type of foot. Just like there is no single shoe for beginners or professionals.
This is why you shouldn't be limiting yourself to one brand. We have dancers that come in wanting one particular shoe because they have seen it on another dancer or because it is their teacher's favorite shoe. Feet are like thumbprints: everyone in the world has different feet (even your two feet are different). So it needs to be custom fitted to you regardless of brand.
This blog post was inspired by a recent incident that is quite common in the ballet world: One of my ballerinas recently got accepted into a trainee program at a ballet company. She's been very successful in a particular model of shoe for many years, but her company told her to change shoes because they wanted her in a specific brand. Now she has to figure out how to dance in a foreign shoe. And since there aren't many options in that brand that fit her shape, she has to drastically manipulate the shoe to fit her foot which shortens the lifespan of her shoe.
For many dancers we fit, we are the last resort. Which means, they were on the verge of quitting pointe because of pain or frustration before they decided to give us a shot. Often times, there are only a couple models that would fit these dancers comfortably. In these cases, limiting the dancer to one brand could mean the difference between quitting or continuing ballet.
The difficult thing about pointe shoe fitting is that your body and skill level is constantly changing. It's a moving target. We can finally land on the perfect pair only to find out 6 months later it doesn't work anymore. This is why it is important to take note on what exactly is or is not working (cannot balance, cannot turn, sinking etc), and tell your fitter what the issue is. Finding the right pair is a journey and having access to a wide variety of models as well as a professional fitter (check out our blog post about why you should get a professional fitting) is very important.
It can be frustrating at times, but be patient and kind to yourself.
Keep an open mind.
And always remember why you love ballet.