Many dancers, and their teachers, often ask “What are the best pointe shoes to use?” This is a question with no set answer, as every foot and dancer will suit a different shoe, and many will choose a different shoe for different ballets.
There are many different brands of pointe shoes, made in very different countries and there is no one shoe that is perfect for everyone. Different dancers have different shaped feet, and so require different proportions to their shoe to get that magic fit. Some people have very long narrow toes while others have a very broad foot with a very narrow heel. Finding (or creating) a shoe that fits well can take a lot of searching, along with a little trial and error.
One way to find the shoe that is best for you is to go to a store that has several makes of shoe to find the one that suits your foot the best. Once you find which brand suits you, a specialty store that stocks only that one brand will probably have more shoes around your size to get a great fit. Some dance teachers like all their girls to have the same brand; however the chances of all those feet needing the same shoe are pretty slim! It is better for each girl to find the shoe that fits them the best, and then find ways to make the satins appear the same for performances.
All brands make several different shapes and styles of pointe shoes, which are designed for different people and different uses. This is often very confusing for first time buyers, so if at all possible get your dance teacher, or an experienced dancer to go along to the fitting with you. The fitters in various stores can range from exceptional to very average, so it is a good idea to get a name of a good fitter on the recommendation of someone you trust.
The strength of the shank is important, yet very controversial. Some people like beginners to have a stronger shank to help support them en pointe until they get stronger, while others believe that the learner needs a softer shank to learn how to work through the shoe properly. Generally the second option is the best, especially when you have strengthened the feet and ankles properly before starting pointe. When you are beginning pointe you are only doing a few minutes of pointe work at the end of class, and so you don’t need a super strong shoe to last you the rigors of a professional class. A medium density shank will allow you to break the shoe in enough to help you work through the shoe, yet still support you en pointe.