Fit & Wear

Fitting and Wearing Pointe Shoes
Information for students from Grishko Oz

It is recommended that to wear a Pointe Shoe a student should be 10/12 years of age or older and not be overweight, (excess weight puts too much strain on young bones)


It is recommended that students should have had at least 2 years training in ballet and be taking 3 classes per week consistently (4 1/2 hours weekly).

The student should have arched instep to be able to stand en pointe,
& have sufficient strength to;
hold their turnout while dancing
have a strong straight back, especially the lower back
keep the heels forward toward the big toe (without sickling)
use a plie, while dancing
be capable of holding a passe balance on half pointe
do 16 releves in the centre without stopping.

It is recommended that a student trying on pointe shoes should wear tights, the correct fit is precise, wearing socks could result in purchasing the incorrect size.
If you wear padding of any type, this should be tried at the same time.

The shoe should fit snuggly, as pointe shoes do not generally last a long time, the snug fit will not endanger growing feet. Grishko Pointe shoes are hand made by specially trained cobblers, there is no left or right shoe in pointe shoes. Each shoe should be tried on and checked in the following ways:

  • No wrinkles in the box area while standing flat or en pointe – if there are it is probably because the shoe or box is too narrow.

  • You should not be able to put your finger between the box & the top of the foot. Try pressing with the heel of the hand to see if the foot fills the shoe, otherwise it is probably too wide.
  • When standing flat footed the pointe shoe should feel very snug, this is because feet when stretched or pointed are shorter in length.
  • Check the length by placing the the foot en pointe, the heel of the shoe should lie smoothly over the heel of the foot. Try to pinch some material, if you can the shoe is too long. The dancer will also possibly feel as she rises onto pointe that she is slipping down into the shoe – this is a sure way of gaining blisters.
  • There should be little or no room to wiggle toes.
  • A shoe should not be baggy at the sides when standing flat.
  • Your toes should touch the front of the box, try standing flat in 2nd position and grande plie.

“Try this little test”

1. Stand barefoot feet flat on the floor and then rock your feet backwards and forwards, do you notice how when on the flat, your natural support system gives you complete stability?

2. Now rise up onto demi pointe and do the same thing, do you then notice how unstable your foot and ankle becomes?

If you put on a pointe shoe that is too big and wide this stability is again compromised, It could be so easy to roll your ankles and cause an injury.

Put on a shoe that is the perfect length and width and that will become your support system.

It is important to remember that when you are en pointe, you need to pull up out of your shoes, you must not allow your toes to support your whole body. Always keep your knees & back, straight and pulled up. Remember that shoulders should be down and your chest lifted and slightly forward.

Do NOT roll in or out at the ankle en pointe , this is dangerous – push out at where the ribbons cross in front.

Shanks and Pointe Shoes

The dancer chooses the needed shank for comfort while dancing, so that the insole will support securely the foot arch. The shank upholds the “working heel” of the insole when the dancer is standing on pointe, gives more flexibility, assures easy transition from pointe to demi pointe and vice versa, etc. The hardness of the shank has no influence on the longevity of the pointe shoe.

How to  “Break in”

a Grishko Pointe shoe

The only way to correctly break in your shoes is to use your feet and work hard.

Each Grishko Pointe Shoe has been beautifully hand crafted. Treat them with respect and they will serve you well.

“Breaking in” is not meant literally –   it just means that a dancer is moulding the pointe shoes to the shape of her feet. Be prepared to spend some time doing this, it is the only way that a shoe will be ready to dance in.

Please do not use hammers or stand on the box of the shoes. Do not bend the pointe shoe in half as you will not get the correct place to bend, do not wet them, you will just end up with a pair of shoes that will feel uncomfortable. If you break in your shoes in this way you may either really break them and need to buy another pair or lessen the life of them.

Instead, put the shoes on, rise up to demi pointe and walk around in them.(Please do not go up on to full pointe unless you are experienced)

Try these exercises at the barre –

Face the barre, with two hands on the barre for support.

1)  Rise onto pointe, then roll down, very slowly, on both feet.

2)  Pony trots, alternating feet.

3)  Rise onto pointe, bend both knees forward and push over on to, and right over the box.

4)  Repeat, but on alternate feet.

5) Repeat steps 1 to 4 in turnout position.

(Repeat until you find the shoes softening at the demi-pointe)

A word of advice-

Buying pointe shoes on the internet is not really a good idea, each Grishko pointe   shoe is hand made which means that each pair can differ slightly in size or shape depending on the individual makers. You may save yourself money, but are you saving yourself from injury? Wearing the wrong size/width and even style of shoe may lead to damage that cannot be rectified.