A pointe shoe is beautiful but complicated. In this blog, we aim to help you as a dancer have an increased understanding of the components of these wonderful shoes so that you are able to ask questions with confidence.
The diagram above displays five of the most commonly discussed components of a pointe shoe during a fitting here at Limbers. So let’s dive into more detail about each part of your shoe!
The vamp is the forward part of the pointe shoe. In each style of pointe shoes, the length of the vamp can change, this allows for the natural variation of dancer’s feet. What length the dancer needs is dependant on the shape of the dancer’s foot, the length of the dancer’s toes and their movement through demi-pointe.
The wings are an extension of the vamp. When asked to put a pointe shoe on, this is where we would recommend the dancer places their hands in order to pull the pointe shoes on. Different styles of shoes will have different lengths of wings. That difference allows for different levels of support for the dancer.
The platform is the part of the shoe that allows the dancer to balance. Although the platform is the proper name, you will often hear the term block used instead. Variation in the size of the platform is usually seen between brands but not between styles within those brands. Although variation is seen, the size of the platform is not usually used as a distinguishing factor for which shoe the dancer will leave with.
The box or block, includes the platform, the wings, and the vamp. This area of the pointe shoe changes in shape, more rectangular, or more triangular for example. This is where the most drastic difference between styles and companies can be seen.
The shank “forms the structural anchor similar to the way a spine supports the human body (Bloch).” Each shank has different flexibility. What the dancer needs depends on their specific needs in order to be the most comfortable when dancing on pointe as possible.
When broken down into components pointe shoes become easier to understand. But when you put them all together, you get a beautiful shoe that sets ballerinas apart.
"Pointe Shoe Anatomy." Bloch Australia. Web. 25 July 2017.
Links to Web Pages: http://www.bloch.com.au/content/32-pointe-shoe-anatomy