Pointe Shoes – Everything You Need to Know

What Are Pointe Shoes?

Pointe shoes look like normal fancy shoes but their use is quite different than standard shoes being worn by women every day. These shoes are used primarily to perform a special dance technique, which allows dancers to dance on the tip of their toes using these shoes.

Pointe Shoes are also known as dance shoes or ballet shoes. These shoes are worn by ballet dancers while practicing dance moves on the floor. 

These shoes are designed to support dancers in pointe work and allow them to move on their foot toes for a long time. There is a wide range of pointe shoes varying in colors, designs, and styles. 

Since the beginning of ballet dance, the shape and size of the pointe shoes have evolved over a long time. The first shoes made for the ballet dance had heels on them. Later, these shoes turned completely flat allowing ballerinas to dance moving their feet freely on the floor. 

Dancers must have proper costumes and special footwear to dance on the floor. It takes special skills and training to perform en pointe on the dance floor. 

Marie Taglioni was the first ballet dancer who performed en pointe in history. In the past, dancers used to wear ballet slippers to practice and perform ballet dance. However, traditional ballet shoes had no support for the toe, making it difficult for dancers to balance their weight for a long. 

Every pointe shoe has a unique construction varying in size, length, and construction. Companies manufacture a variety of models of pointe shoes by adding special support to the toe of the foot. 

pointe shoes drawing
Pointe Shoes

Pointe Shoes Anatomy

Being a student learning ballet dance, you may get lots of queries in your head when you think about pointe shoes while practicing and learning pointe techniques. Before you choose any type of pointe shoes, it is better to know about their design, construction, length, the material used in the shoes, and how to use them so that you can pick the right shoe. 

What Is A Pointe Shoe Made Of?

Pointe shoes are made of a combination of materials like wood, leather, plastic, cardboard, and fabric, divided into different parts that require great precision and finish. 

These shoes use a special fabric called satin that gives them a unique look to these shoes. These are mostly manufactured in light colors, especially in pink color. A pointe shoe is particularly divided into different parts:

Toe Box




Toe Box

The toe box is made with plastic or rubber to give rigidity to the toe box so as to support the toe and balance the dancer.


Ballet pointe shoes possess a special insole called a shank. It is made either with leather or plastic to add the desired level of flexibility to the shoe, giving support to the foot arch.

The thickness of the shank varies from shoe to shoe and depends on the length, material, and size of the shoe. The variation of the shank in a pointe shoe helps in the performance of different dance moves. 

So, manufacturers customize the shank of shoes considering the needs of ballet dancers. 

Ribbons And Rubber Band

Ribbons and rubber bands are used in pointe shoes as a lock system to give a snug to feet so as to keep them in the shoes. They help shoes to grip the feet to avoid any slippage during dance moves. 


The outsole of the pointe shoe uses leather in construction. Some shoes come with split shoes for better use and convenience. It keeps the foot flat on the floor.

Can Beginners Use Pointe Shoes?

Since pointe shoes are a prerequisite for ballet dance, anyone who is interested in learning ballet dance should have a pair of pointe shoes to practice and learn the art of moving on the toes. 

It takes months for a novice to learn ballet dance moves after regular practice. During the training, the pointe shoes may get worn and fall short of the size of these shoes at the end of their session. 

The beginners should start to learn from the position, and foot placement and then slowly move on to keep their weight on their feet. The practitioners must not put a lot of weight on their feet. 

If your children are learning pointe ballet dance, then make sure he/she has learned to go en pointe and they have mastered the art of ballet dancing. Children must have a minimum age of 11 years to practice ballet dance with proper training from a recognized institute. 

Learners must spend at least a year or more learning ballet dance before he/she becomes eligible for en pointe. However, he/she should have been punctual and had a good record of attendance at the ballet academy. 

Do Pointe Shoes Hurt?

Definitely, the pointe shoes hurt in the beginning as you start taking dance classes and practicing pointe. These shoes do not feel comfortable like normal shoes and your feet may hurt. 

En pointe is a special technique that requires precision, strength, and punctuality to perform the skill. The pointe dance involves great footwork and endurance. So, you can’t avoid pain while practicing the dance moves.

How Long Do Pointe Shoes Last?

We all hear from ballet dancers and ballerinas that pointe shoes don’t last enough and on average ballet dancers change more than dozens of pairs of shoes each year.

Let’s dig out the myth.

We all know pointe work involves movement of footwork and balancing of the weight on feet. It takes extreme fitness, exhaustive training, and perfection to move on the toes, and ballet shoes play a vital role in the performance.

As the size, length, design, and construction of pointe shoes vary, so does the lifespan of shoes. Some shoes may last for a few hours to some days depending on the time you have danced wearing those shoes.

Besides the shoe brand and its size, there are some other factors that influence the lifespan of pointe shoes i.e. weight and use of these shoes.

In most cases, the mesh or fabric of the shoe tears out, which can be repaired by sewing the mesh or fabric of the shoes.