E was only 9, but very mature & growing for her age. Her teacher told her if our pediatrician said it was ok, she could go on pointe in January. So, not only was she the youngest dancer in her class, but she was the last one to go on pointe. But she was excited. Es teacher has never pushed one brand over another – whatever fits for each dancer is what she advocates. Our first trip to the recommended pointe shoe shop was 45 minutes away but very helpful. A small hole-in-the-wall place that every dancer in our studio goes to, but the ladies there are so knowledgeable. They took over 75 minutes with just E in choosing just the right brand, shank, width, everything. Another mom was in there, asked if my dancer was going on pointe for the first time. I must have looked like a proud mama, because she must have saw the glazed look in my eyes with all the selections. She also warned me that if E continued for a few years, she would replacing her shoes every 2-3 months, if we were lucky. Months? I thought I misheard her – years, right? Nope, months. Moms (and Dads), do learn about the anatomy of a pointe shoe, it really helps when your dancers feet are constantly growing, and their foot strength increases as well. To understand their needs in pointe shoes will help with the shock to your wallet every time.
I look back now and wish I could tell myself what I know now about pointe shoes:
- they are expensive (Es current pair is Grishko Nova, thanks to the expert fitter, Judy, at their NYC flagship store. They now have her information on file, and with one phone call, I have 3 pairs in the mail in 2 days)
- they will make your dancer’s feet hurt
- not everyone should start pointe at the same age
- don’t push your teacher to put your dancer on pointe until they say she’s ready
- they are expensive
- once you find a brand/model/size that fits, buy at least 3-4 pairs, but…
- the same brand/model/size that fit her last year may not be right this year
- if possible, have your teacher look over the shoes when your dancer is first starting out on pointe – they can see what works
- teach your dancer how to sew them but you need to be able to stitch a pair on the fly when needed
- don’t be afraid to let them wear them “everywhere” (we have had the best photos on a wooden-plank bridge, which tears up the satin of shoes, but now E cuts the satin away when she preps her new shoes)
- did I mention they are expensive?