It can be a little overwhelming when you enter the world of pointe work, as there are lots of words used that you may not be used to! This page explains the glossary of pointe terms that are used when talking about pointe shoes, to help you understand exactly what your teacher is talking about.



he tape that finishes the top edge of the upper part of the shoe which also encases the drawstring/elastic.


A length of either cotton cord or elastic cord encased within the binding that allows the upper to form a snug fit around the foot.


Specially formulated glue, which is used in both the process of hardening the toe block/box and attaching the insole to the inside of the pointe shoe.


The flattened surface at the end of the pointe shoe which allows the dancer to balance on pointe.


All the parts above the shoe’s sole that are joined together to become a single unit which is then attached to the insole and the outsole.


The lower forward part of the shoe’s upper, covering the forepart of the foot and includes the block/box and platform.


The hardened enclosure of a pointe shoe which comprises the vamp, wings and platform encasing the dancer’s toes. The block/box is commonly made of multi layers of paper, fabric and glue.


The foot shaped mold around which the pointe shoe is constructed.


A single piece of leather that is attached to the outer most sole of the shoe.


A piece of rigid material (leather, plastic, cardstock) that stiffens the sole to provide support for the dancer’s arch. Shanks/insoles are manufactured in many different strengths to suit any particular dancer.

Vamp shape

The vamp refers to the length of the shoe’s upper, and the vamp shape is simply the shape of the entrance of the shoe. The shape may vary between rounded to quite tapered.


The sides of the vamp directed toward the heel. This area can vary in many ways, like shape or hardness and will depend on the style of pointe shoe the dancer chooses.

Written by;  Vicki Attard

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