If you are a beginner en pointe, it is preferable to have a short to medium vamp length, rather than a long one. The reason for this is to enable you to attain full contact with the platform on the floor with relative ease. (However, the shape of your foot and strength should always be taken into consideration.)
Another vital feature for the beginner en pointe, is a flexible shank. This will enable you to develop articulation of the foot from the onset. There are many different or contradictory opinions on this topic, but both Vicki Attard and Lisa Howell agree that a beginner should have a more flexible shoe in order to learn how to correctly work through a high 3/4 pointe position. This ‘simple’ movement really is the key to successful and injury free pointe work!
It is wise to start off with a wider platform when beginning en pointe. This not only gives you a greater surface area to balance on, but allows more room for the toes. Highly tapered pointe shoes can encourage the development of bunions, so are best avoided especially in the early years of training.
Don’t expect a brand new pointe shoe to feel like a slipper instantly, it is a good idea to personalise it a little. You can try softening the box at the front and/or wings a little, and depending on the chosen type of pointe shoe, the shank may need a little softening. If you are going to soften any part of the shoe, but particularly the shank, I recommend a gentle approach, trying the shoe on at regular intervals to monitor.
Always remember; It is imperative to complete the necessary stepping stones to arrive en pointe. Supplementing your strengthening with some simple theraband foot exercises, done in a very slow, controlled, meticulous manner, will also be extremely beneficial. Just remember, pointe shoes should not feel like foreign objects at the end of your legs, but more like extensions or elongations of them. Always remember –
‘You rule your pointe shoes, don’t let your pointe shoes rule you!!’
Written by; Vicki Attard
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