Ballet Pointe Shoes Fitting-Does Profile Size Really Matter?

by LPerry

How ballet pointe shoes fit can affect a dancer during a performance. How important is the profile construction of a ballerina's shoe?

Watching a ballerina dance on pointe is simply amazing. A true professional ballet dancer has the advanced training to make it look so easy and effortless. One of the most important aspects of dancing on her toes is the fit and construction of her pointe shoes.

When a ballet student has completed the required years of training in soft slippers, she will graduate to wearing pointe shoes. Those shoes need to fit perfectly. Some of the major key areas on the shoe that are measured to precision are the length and width.The hardness and flexiblity of the shank is also very important. The shank can be described as a stiff reinforcement that is sandwiched between the leather layers of the sole and typically runs the length of the sole.

There are also minor, yet very important fitting areas on a pointe shoe. One is the heel depth. Some dancers prefer a very low-cut heel. Others find them extremely irritating. Another area of the pointe shoe that manufacturers offer in different sizes is the profile.

Low Profile

Grishko Elite

I own a pair of Grishko Elite's and I can vouch for the fact that they are some of the lowest profile pointe shoes on the market. I don't have banana arches, but the Elite model is so flat and low in the toe box, I could not point my foot. It wouldn't let me.

I also own several pairs of Capezio Pavlowa and they have a roomy, high profile that allows for maximum arch flexibility. In fact, my model of choice when I was a pointe student back in the day was the Pavlowa.

The Grishko Elite works out perfectly if you have the right foot shape.

Why Pointe Shoes Are Sold With Different Profiles

What exactly is a profile when it comes to pointe shoe construction? The profile is another word for how shallow or deep the toe box is when viewed from the side sitting flat on the floor. Although street shoes also have a profile, manufacturers don't stress that as a sellling point.

For example, picture a satin ballet pointe shoe sitting flat on the floor. With your imaginary measuring tape, lets say the toe box measures 3 inches from the floor. This shoe is going to fit comfortably on a dancer with feet that have the same measurements.

Ballet pointe shoes are sold as low-profile, medium-profile and high-profile. The low-profile construction would not be suitable for a dancer who has "meat" on her instep and whose feet have height when viewed sideways. Most people never give thought to how tall their feet are from the floor.

How The Wrong Profile Affects Going On Pointe

What happens to a dancer who has a high-profile foot wearing a low-profile pointe shoe? She will notice that her toes are crunched down and that she can't acheive a fully-arched point. No matter how hard a ballet student tries to arch her feet, the toe box stays straight. It looks odd and feels terrible.

The ballerina who tries to dance on her toes with shoes that are too high in profile will simply feel like she is falling out of them all the time. For the most part, the medium profile works for the majority of dancers.

Learning about the importance of the toe box profile makes for a much better fit. A ballerina's feet can change shape and size during her career. Fitting ballet shoes can be a lifetime process. Switching from one maker to another in search of the magic pair is another factor that can change profile size requirements.

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Updated: 02/25/2021, LPerry
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