Best Pointe Shoes Reviewed & Compared for Performance
One of the most important moments in any ballerina’s life is the day she gets her first pair of pointe shoes. These objects are both desired and dreaded, loved and hated. In addition to their most basic function of allowing a ballet dancer to stand on the tips of their toes, a pointe shoe also plays an important role in ballet aesthetics, elongating the dancer’s lines, giving the illusion of the dancer floating on air and creating a sense of magic. However, an ill-fitting shoe can do more harm than good, and it is crucial that the fit is as close to perfect in order to avoid unnecessary pain or even injury.
Once a teacher has given you the permission to go en pointe (which means that you are at least 11 years old and have had several years of classical ballet training to ensure proper strength and technique) you can start looking at shoes. For your first pair, it is best to be fitted by a professional, but if you don’t have a fitter near you, your teacher may also be able to help to determine whether a pair will work for your foot shape. In addition to size and width, you will also need to consider aspects such as the height of your arch, the length of your toes, the shape of your heel, the width of the metatarsal area, flexibility of your foot and overall strength. Once you’ve looked at these, you will have a more complete image in your head of what you need your perfect shoes to do for you.
- Grishko 2007
- Roll Through Shank
- Russian Pointe Rubin
- Pre-curved Shank
- Great for Wide Feet
- Chacott Veronese II
- Wingless Design
- Ribbons Included
This list looks at the top ten pointe shoes available for purchase online. Including models by the most famous brands such as Grishko, Bloch, Sansha, Capezio and Russian Pointe, you are sure to find something that will work for you. For detailed information about what to look for in pointes make sure to read the Criteria for Evaluation section before making a final purchase.
10 Best Pointe Shoes
1. Grishko 2007
There’s nothing as beautiful as a perfect roll-through when going en pointe, and the 2007 by Grishko has the technology to allow you to do just this. These shoes are the perfect combination of flexibility and support - something that will definitely take your dancing to the next level.
Another great thing in the shank of these shoes is the shank which is cut at the ¾ mark, allowing a more beautiful arch and a better level of support for those dancers who prefer this type of fit. Do note, however, that some teachers will not allow beginner students to use pointes with a ¾ shank.
Cost and Value
These shoes rank high on this list when it comes to price, which is understandable seeing that they are made by one of the top dancewear companies in the world. Featuring plenty of technology that is intended to make your experience more comfortable, the Grishko 2007 is definitely worth giving a try.
- Created With Non-toxic Materials
- ¾ Shank
- Medium Profile
- U-shaped Vamp
- Very Quiet
- Unsuitable for Straight Toes
- Teachers May Not Allow 3/4 Shank
2. Bloch Eurostretch
Modeled after the Balance European, these shoes feature a high and wide platform and a split sole design that will perfectly hug the arch no matter what moves you’re doing. An improved paste compound takes care of the durability and support in the Eurostretch.
Leather Heel Tab
Seeing that the upper of these shoes is made out of stretch materials, the inner boasts plenty of features to make them more durable. These include a leather heel tab that prevents slipping, as well as canvas inserts that make sewing ribbons and elastics easier and more secure.
Cost and Value
The Bloch Eurostretch is the most expensive item on this list, which comes as no surprise seeing that it features innovative technologies that were developed to make your experience of dancing en pointe better. They’re a good choice for those who have tried out Bloch shoes before, and who are willing to try out something different.
- Stretch Upper
- Split Sole Design
- High and Wide Platform
- Low Profile & Elastic Drawstring
- Canvas Inserts
- Difficult Sizing
- Unsuitable for Beginners
3. Chacott Veronese II
The Veronese II is the favorite choice of those dancers who suffer from bunion pain, seeing that these shoes have no wings. The support is provided by a more snugly fitting vamp that’s V-shaped, and it will be one of the easiest shoes to mold to your foot.
Easy Roll Through
Thanks to the lightweight box, the Veronese II makes it easy to roll through and to use your foot more beautifully during pointe work. This will, in turn, make your feet stronger, more beautifully arched, which is a definite plus for any dancer.
Cost and Value
Retailing at a low to average price, te Chacott Veronese II is a cheap pair of pointe shoes that is easy to break in, and provides a comfortable wear for those in need of a more tapered style. Nonetheless, seeing that it’s a softer shoe than most, it will die sooner, which will require more frequent purchases. For those looking for a budget option, the Veronese II should probably be saved for performances to maximize its life span.
Medium or Hard Shank
Easy to Break In
Promotes Roll Through
4. Russian Pointe Rubin
In order to minimize break-in time, Russian Pointe developed the pre-arched shank which follows the shape of the arch and gives a more pleasant look while en pointe. Considering that it allows the dancer to use the shoes without too much manual bending, it also works to prolong the lifespan of the shoes.
Slightly Tapered Toe Box
Suited for a variety of foot shapes, the slightly tapered toe box can work with almost all types of feet. Still, you’ll be happy to hear that it still gives you a wide platform, while making your lines more beautiful and elongated.
Cost and Value
The price of the Russian Pointe Rubin is average on this list and gravitates towards the lower price range of the reputable pointe shoe brands. It’s a great choice for anyone with a wider foot and provides you with several options, including a U-shape and V-shape vamp, and 4 different shank strengths.
- Pre-arched Shank
- 4 Different Shank Strengths
- Perfect for Wide Feet
- Wide Platform
- U or V-cut
- Can Be Very Hard
- Ribbons Not Included
5. Freed Of London Studio 2
These pointes are created with a strong, sturdy toe box that helps to protect the dancer's toes from any pressure or damage. The wings on the side of the shoes are also created to be strong, holding the dancer's foot securely in place.
Great For Wide Feet
The Studio II is a great choice for dancers with wide feet. It comes equipped with a wide platform and a deep vamp length that creates the perfect fit for all wide feet.
Cost and Value
These shoes are priced at a very fair cost considering their brand reliability and supportive structure. If you’re truly looking to enhance your performance and don’t want to take a huge chunk of money out of your wallet, these are the best choice.
- Hard Shank
- Natural and Biodegradable Materials
- Wide Platform
- Flat Profile
- V-shaped Vamp
- Unsuitable for Beginners
- Hard to Break In
6. Grishko Maya
The V-shaped vamp may be a little difficult to master at first, but overall it is a great feature for constant movement en pointe. The strong yet flexible shank also works hard to adapt to your movements to provide support and stability.
Small Details Make A Better Shoe
These pointe shoes come equipped with cotton drawstrings that help secure the shoe onto your foot. Much better than elastic (at least according to some), this feature won't cut off your circulation. The shoes are also held together with innovative, strong glue that helps to keep the focus on the elegant design while also protecting the dancer's feet.
Cost and Value
These shoes are of average cost. Coming from a reliable brand and made with quality, these shoes will provide all the support and stability needed to perform on stage. They are still decently affordable while coming with features that make the shoe a top quality choice for all ballet dancers.
- V-shaped Vamp
- Medium Platform
- ¾ Shank
- Satin Upper, Suede Sole
- Cotton Drawstrings
- Unsuitable for Narrow Feet
- Ribbons & Elastics Not Included
7. Bloch Serenade
For those dancers with wide feet, this shoe is a great choice. The wide platform helps dancers attain better balance by giving them more space on which to distribute their weight. Not only does this relieve pressure from the metatarsal area, but it also makes for more pirouettes.
Aid In Flexibility
Having a flexible arch is an important feature of ballet en pointe, however, too much flexibility can be damaging to the foot. The wide profile in these pointe shoes allows the dancer to be graceful and elegant on pointe without pushing the arch too far forward. The strong shank allows for plenty of use before you see these shoes dying on you.
Cost and Value
Considering that they’re made by Bloch, and the fact that they provide some good features, these shoes are an excellent investment. They rank above average on this list when it comes to price, but this is understandable seeing that they’re made by a reputable brand.
- Long Vamp
- Firm Shank
- Canvas Upper
- Wide Platform
- Plenty of Sizing Options
- Only for Square Toes
- Difficult to Break In
8. Capezio Contempora
Though not the softest shank you can get from a pair of pointes by Capezio, these shoes are pretty easy to break in. That means that they will adapt to your foot very easily, and will feel perfect for those dancers who are strong enough to benefit from a softer shoe. The downside, however, is the fact that these will only last about one performance before they’re dead.
For Medium to Wide Feet
Despite being slightly tapered, these shoes by Capezio are made for medium to wide feet. That means that they provide ample space in the metatarsal area that will help with your balance and allow a comfortable demi-pointe.
Cost and Value
These shoes gravitate towards the higher prices on this list, which makes them expensive for students - the combination of a soft shank and a high price would mean hundreds of dollars in pointes per month. If, however, you want something really special for a performance, then definitely go for the Contempora.
- Soft Shank
- Easy to Break In
- Medium to Wide Width
- Tapered Toe Box
- Long Vamp
- Short Lifespan
- Single Width Available
9. Capezio Plie 2
These shoes are made for those with average sized toes and features a medium height, U-shaped vamp and an elastic drawstring for an improved fit. You’ll be especially happy to hear that these have a quiet toe construction, meaning that your jumps will sound much more elegant.
For those with wider feet struggling to find a good shoe, this is the answer. These shoes come equipped with a wide platform and a broad toe box for a snug fit that allows a pain-free experience en pointe.
Cost and Value
These shoes rank average on this list when it comes to cost. They’ve got plenty of good features, making them an excellent choice for both students and professionals, and the wide fit is especially important to note, seeing that these will be comfortable for those with square toes.
- Elastic Drawstring
- #3 Shank
- Satin Upper, Leather Sole
- Wide Platform
- Broad Toe Box
- No Narrow Options
- Lack of Tapering
10. Bloch Balance European
A tapered toe box looks considerably more beautiful than one that is straight. Thanks to the numerous width options, you’ll find that finding the right size with the Balance European is easier than with many other shoes, giving you a snug and secure fit that won’t cause pain.
The shoe is built to take into account the natural arches and other curves that are found in most feet. The shank will remain in close contact with your foot whenever you wear these shoes, which will create a more beautiful line and will aid in protecting you against injury.
Cost and Value
Bloch shoes cost a lot, and that comes with a reason. First and foremost, these are not mass produced items coming from China but are pointes made by experienced makers who have been properly trained to produce high-quality shoes that allow for high-quality dancing.
- Slightly Tapered Toe Box
- Curved Arch Hugs Feet
- Diagonal Satin Seam Minimizes Creasing
- Generous Platform
- Available in 5 Widths
- Long Break In Period
- Steep Price
There you have it, a list of the ten highest rated ballet shoes available for purchase online. With options for all foot shapes, arch heights and levels of foot flexibility, you are bound to find something that will work for you. In order to get a shoe that will be safe to use, make sure to get fitted by a professional, or order a few sizes and try them all on, returning the ones that are not the correct fit for you. Going en pointe can be beautiful and magical, but saving a few bucks on a pair of shoes is not worth sacrificing your safety and potentially your career as a dancer for.
If you are new to buying pointe shoes, make sure to talk to your teacher before you make your purchase. They will not only need to approve you for going en pointe but can also give you a few tips on what to look for your foot shape and strength level. Additionally, read the Criteria for Evaluation and Frequently Asked Questions sections of this article to ensure you are making an educated purchase that will result in more happy dancing.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Pointe Shoes
In order to be able to dance well, you will need a pair of ballet shoes that fit your foot. You’ve probably seen images of ballet dancers’ feet, and they show just how much of the burden of dancing is taken by this part of the body. In ballet, not only are you expected to dance, jump, balance and turn on the tips of your toes but even more, you will need to make all of these movements look beautiful and effortless while also concentrating on other things such as your arms, head, turnout, posture, and line. This means that the pointes you choose for ballet need to give you the best possible fit, allowing you to focus on the quality of your dancing instead of worrying about your feet.
First and foremost, a good fitting shoe may not be completely painless, seeing that you will still be expected to rest your entire body weight on the tips of your toes, but it definitely should not cause too much discomfort. In order to find the best fit, you will need to look at several aspects, seeing that with pointe shoes there’s much more to look at than just length and width.
- Toe box – when standing, your foot should fit snugly in the forefront part of the shoe. Your toes should be flat, without any scrunching or pressure. You should be able to fit the tip of your finger in the shoe over your toes, and your skin should not bunch over the shoe.
- Length of wings – the wings of the shoe should cover the side of your big toe joint. If they sit too low, you will risk developing painful bunions. If they sit too high, you won’t be able to properly roll through demi-pointe.
- Heel – the shoe should come up to the ⅞ mark on the heel bone. It should not completely cover it because that would cause injury to the Achilles tendon, but it should not sit too low either because that way the heel would come off when rising en pointe.
- Vamp length – depending on the length of your toes, choose an appropriately sized vamp. Too long, and you won’t be able to go through demi-pointe. Too short and you’ll be going too far over the platform.
- Shoe length – stand in a wide 2nd position and do a plie. Your toes should need to have enough room to lengthen in this position, just touching the end of the shoe. Make sure to take into consideration any padding you plan on using with the shoes. It is even recommended that you do your fitting with the pads you will be using when dancing.
- Alignment – before you put weight on the shoe, you need to see whether it will work en pointe as well. Put the tip of one foot on the ground, while resting your weight on the other. Now press down slightly – look at the box and whether the fit is still good. Your foot should not sink deeper into the shoe, and there should be no bulging out of the shoe – you should feel supported and there shouldn’t be too much excess satin at the heel.
- Shank position – when you’ve put your foot en pointe, it’s important that the shank is in line with your foot. If there is any misalignment, it is possible that you need a wider toe box. You can also slightly improve this misalignment with breaking in in the heel area.
Once you’ve checked all of these aspects, you can stand en pointe in your shoes. Make sure to check whether there are any points where you feel the fit could be improved. Some of these might be adjusted by correct padding, while others will require getting a different shoe. Remember that each person will need something different from their shoes, and finding the perfect might take some effort. Nonetheless, once you’ve got it you will see that your dancing will be incomparably better and more enjoyable.
The shank of your shoes is one of the most important parts, seeing that it has the sole purpose of keeping you up en pointe. It’s a layering of materials at the sole of the shoe and is usually made out of paste, canvas, and leather, although technological advancement has brought us shanks made out of plastic or even thermo-responsive pastes which last longer and can be customized better for a superior fit.
Shank strength and positioning varies from person to person and can be based on more of a personal level of comfort. This is a feature that is important for beginners as well as professionals and usually changes in preference over the course of time, trial and error.
Depending on your teacher’s preferences, they may recommend a softer or harder shank. Most will ask for a harder shank for beginners seeing that they provide more support and require you to build strength, but some teachers will tell you to get a softer shank which allows an easier transition while requiring you to hold up without relying just on your shoes. It is very important to keep this in consideration when purchasing shoes, but you will find that as you gain experience you will have a clearer idea of how hard or soft you need your shank to be.
Another thing to note is that some dancers may be tempted to choose a shank that is harder than what they ideally need in order to maximize the longevity of their pointe shoes. However, this should not be done as the foot will have to work overtime in order to break in the shoes.
Once you start feeling that your shoes have gotten too soft in the shank, it is important to replace them. Dancing in dead shoes is a safety concern and can lead to injuries, seeing that your body won’t be supported enough to perform the rigorous movements required of it when en pointe.
Toe Box and Vamp
The toe box is one of the most vital areas of the ballet shoe. Dancing en pointe pushes all the weight and pressure of the dancer against the toes and it takes a strong, graceful dancer and durable, reliable shoe to make this type of dance possible.
The toe box works together with the shank to provide your toes with stability and support. It is important to know the shape and size of your toes in order to find proper shoes. Your toe shape will not only determine the size of the toe box needed, but also the shape and length of the vamp.
There are 3 commonly used shapes in the design of the toe box area. They are: tapered, slightly tapered and square. The toe box should provide a comfortable, snug feel in the shoe while not being too tight or loose. Consider the fact that a lot of pressure is going to be put on your toes while dancing en pointe, so it is crucial that this area is well fitted.
The vamp of the shoe is the part which covers the tops of your toes and determines how you will stand en pointe. Too short, and you might find yourself falling over, Too long, however, and you won’t be able to stand fully en pointe. The length of the vamp depends on the length of your toes, while its shape (U-shape or V-shape) depends on your arch. A V-shape vamp may be a good choice for those with higher arches who need a bit more support against pushing too far over the platform.
Arch and Profile
Dancing en pointe challenges the arch of your foot and can apply a decent amount of pressure to that area. The shape of your arch is what’s used to determine the correct profile position and support needed in your shoes.
Your arch is an aspect that’s used to determine the right size in almost all areas of your shoe. Your arch helps to determine your shank strength, profile height, and vamp length. Dancers focus really hard on creating a deep, flexible arch within their foot and a great shoe will be able to show this off.
When choosing pointe shoes, you’ll want to make sure that the arch of your foot fits securely and comfortably into the shoe. The arch should be compatible with the profile height and the amount of compression against the shoes. Shoes that don’t fit correctly around the arch of your foot can lead to health concerns like overextending your arch and stress fractures.
While every other aspect of your shoes may be perfect, having an improper profile height will be the end deal breaker. Every dancer has a different level of flexibility and that is why profile height is selective. The higher the profile, the deeper the arch; too high and you’ll be bending your foot in a direction it’s really not made to go in.
Finding the perfect profile height for your arch will take trial and error, as it will with every other aspect in a pointe shoe. An easy method to test if your shoes are the correct profile height is to try and insert your fingers underneath the throat of the shoe. If you’re able to fit your fingers underneath, your profile is too high and should be lowered.
While ballet shoes can get very specific, you’ll be able to find many examples of the different profile and arch lengths through our best list. Just remember to pay deep attention to your foot shape and don’t listen to other people’s opinions because everyone’s feet are shaped differently. It’s truly important for a dancer to find the perfect shoes that work for YOU.
Ribbons, Elastics, and Padding
Some of the shoes on this list come with padding, while others may have built-in comfort features. As you will learn when dancing en pointe, a little bit of softness can go a long way in preventing blisters, corns and overall painful areas on your feet. Padding techniques greatly depend on the dancer – some can get away with just paper towels, others prefer lambswool, and some turn to gel or silicone. Today, you can even get special pastes that are custom molded to your foot shape, so that they give support and comfort where needed, without creating too much bulk in other sections.
You might find that you will need to tape your toes to keep them from rubbing together or even use toe spacers in order to ensure proper placement inside the shoe. Those with a longer second toe will probably need to use more padding under the big toe in order to relieve the stress that is placed on the second toe. The best padding for you will depend on the shoe you choose, so it’s very possible that what worked great with one pair of shoes will not be appropriate for another pair. It’s also important to replace your padding for multiple reasons, including flattening as well as hygiene.
While most shoes do not come ready-made with ribbons, they are still a crucial part of the shoe. Ribbons are not only used as an aesthetically pleasing part of the shoe but more importantly, they play an important role in keeping your shoes safely and securely on your feet. Correctly placing these ribbons is also important – they need to be sewn at the part of the shoe that will pull the shank closest to your arch, while also helping create a more beautiful line.
In addition to ribbons, most dancers also use elastics to get a more secure fit and to keep the heel from slipping. You can choose to sew a single piece of elastic from one side of the heel to the other, or to use two pieces in a criss-cross way that resembles what you will usually find on soft ballet shoes. Whichever of these you prefer, it’s important to make sure not to sew the material at the very back of the heel as this can lead to stress and injury. Instead, always gravitate a bit towards the side – some dancers will even sew their elastics on the outside of the shoe in order not to disturb the fit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When can I go en pointe?
A: The appropriate age to go en pointe is between the ages of 11 and 13. Before this, the foot is still in its growing phase, which means that not all bones have fully formed. Additionally, you will have to be approved to go en pointe by your teacher. It is crucial that you have the proper strength in your foot to be able to hold yourself up en pointe.
Q: Can I practice in pointe shoes on my own?
A: This is a hard NO. As pointe technique requires proper placement in order to be safe, you will need the supervision of a trained and experienced teacher. Dancing en pointe will start off with slow exercises at the barre that will first teach you how to achieve proper placement – something that is very important if you want to avoid serious career-ending injuries.
Q: Can I buy pointe shoes with room to grow?
A: No. Pointe shoes need to fit correctly, and that includes both length and width. Otherwise, you risk injury, which is simply not worth it. Additionally, in order to compensate for the bad fit, you might develop bad technique habits that can take months or years to fix, which ultimately sets you back.
Q: Is there a left and right pointe shoe?
A: In most cases, there isn’t. Each shoe will mold to your feet as you wear them. It is, however, advised that you label your shoes because your feet are different, so wearing a molded shoe on the wrong foot is the same as wearing a poorly fitted pair.
Q: How do I break in my shoes?
A: The best way to break in your shoes is to do so while wearing them, under the supervision of your teacher. Once you have become more experienced en pointe, you will know the places where you need more bend and will be able to do a little breaking in on your own.
Q: How long do pointe shoes last? How often should I replace them?
A: You would think for the expensive pricing that these shoes are made to last long periods of time, but unfortunately that isn’t true. On average, it is said that pointe shoes are only good to wear for less than 20 hours. To get the most out of them, make sure to let them air dry completely between wears. It’s also a good idea to have more pairs so you can wear them in a rotation to maximize their lifespan.
- Shank: The bottom part of a shoe, made out of a combination of paste, canvas, satin and leather, in charge of providing the dancer with the support they need for standing on their toes.
- Box: The part of the shoe which covers the toes, providing support at the front of the toes. The box will prevent the dancer from going too forward when en pointe. Depending on the brand, it can be made out of traditional materials, or plastic.
- Vamp: The top part of the shoe that covers the toes, can be V-shaped or U-shaped, depending on the dancer’s arch flexibility, foot shape and strength. The length of the vamp will always be determined by the length of the toes, and is one of the crucial aspects of a good fit.
- Platform: The part of the shoe on which the dancer will balance. The size of it depends on how tapered the shoe is. Some brands come with flatter, wider platforms that are easier to balance on, while others come with smaller ones that elongate the line and provide a more appealing look to the foot.
- Wings: The parts on the side of the toe box, in charge of supporting the metatarsal area. The wings need to reach up to the big toe joint, and cover it slightly, in order to prevent bunion injury which is common among dancers.
- Drawstring: A canvas or elastic string that is located within the collar of the shoe, which can be tightened or loosened to improve the fit. Some shoes have drawstrings that are tied at the side (such as Gaynor Minden pointes), while others will have strings that are tied at the front. Note that drawstrings always need to be tucked in to ensure a clean look.
- Grecian Foot: A foot shape where the toes are slightly tapered and the second toe is longer than the big toe. This type of foot requires a more tapered shoe, and additional padding under the big toe.
- Egyptian Foot: A type of foot where the big toe is the longest, and the rest of the toes are tapered. This type of foot is the most difficult to fit, as most tapered shoes will bend the big toe, which may cause painful bunions.
- Giselle Foot: A type of foot where the length of most toes is the same. This type of foot will need a wider shoe, but is the most suited for dancing en pointe seeing that the dancer’s weight is distributed over a larger area.