Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why I am Not a Pointe Shoe Expert

                                                                                                                                                                                                photo from stock.xchng

Yes, I wear pointe shoes. Yes, I teach ballet. Yes, I can tell you if the shoes you bought fit acceptably.

But I will not tell you what kind of shoes to buy.

Do you know how many different shoes there are out there? Discount Dance has 167 hits for "pointe shoes" (okay, some of them are for ribbons or Jet Glue, but you get the idea). And there are plenty of brands that you can't find on that website. So you can imagine how wide the possible selection is.

And then there's the issue of your feet. Are they wide? Narrow? Wide at the toes and narrow at the heel? Do you have super-flexible arches? How long are your toes?

And there are a bunch of personal preferences to consider as well. How hard do you like your boxes? How hard do you like your shank? Do you want a shorter shank? And the lists go on.

Do yourself a favor: get fit by a professional. And I don't just mean someone employed at a dance supply store. Find someone who really knows pointe shoes. And really knows about a lot of brands of pointe shoes, not just what they wore in high school. Most places around here charge a pointe shoe fitting—which seems reasonable to me. After all, you could be spending a lot of their time only to find the shoe you want, go home, and buy it online. A fitting fee at least compensates them for their time. But the fitting fee alone doesn't tell you if you're working with a shoe expert.
  • A shoe expert will take as long as necessary to do a good fitting; a salesperson will get frustrated after about the fifth pair.
  • An expert will consider every brand they carry in that store; a salesperson will push you towards whatever they have overstocked. (For this reason, I do suggest you look for a store with a wide selection of brands and sizes.)
  • An expert will tell you if they don't have your size in stock. Sure, there's a really good chance that you'll buy the shoe elsewhere, but they care about the fit. A salesperson will tell you how to compensate to wear whatever size shoe they have. (I am totally against buying a size longer + narrower or adjusting padding, etc., to make up for a bad fit. Totally against it.)
  • A expert feels genuine satisfaction when they help you find the right shoe. A salesperson feels happy that they get a commission.
Then there are things that experts and salespeople both may do. Both may suggest customization of a shoe. This usually means a custom order and a higher price. I'm not offering an opinion here because, again, I don't know your feet. I will say don't let them bully you in to a shoe you aren't reasonably confident you'll like. Because custom orders can't be returned.

An expert or a salesperson may require an appointment for your shoe fitting. Or they may not. I've had excellent fittings (and lousy ones) either way.

The best way to tell who the best fitters in your area are is word of mouth. And the word around here is that the best place to get fitted is Dance Boutique in Heber City, UT. Sure, it's about a 40-minute drive from my house but that's where I'm planning to take my daughter when it's time for her first pair.

P. S. The ribbons and elastic are always sold separately.

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