My Perfect Shoes

Six ballerinas discuss why they love their pointe shoes.

Kajiya in Ben Stevenson's The Nutcracker (Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy Houston Ballet)

Yuriko KajiyaPrincipal, Houston Ballet

Foot type: Wide and flat, with long toes

Shoe: Capezio Tiffany

Customizations: “I like my heels and sides to be lower than those of the stock shoes. One of the biggest things Capezio does for me is cut down my shank to almost nothing. I really like how light the shoes feel on my feet.”

Kajiya’s advice to dancers: “Pointe shoes are like Cinderella slippers—you’re always trying to find the style that’ll help you dance your best. I’d advise younger dancers not to go with shoes that are too hard in the beginning. They can cause damage to your Achilles tendons if you aren’t strong enough.”

Rausch in Ulysses Dove's Red Angels (Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet)

Lesley RauschPrincipal, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Foot type: Long and narrow, with very high arches

Shoe: Freed of London “V” maker

Customizations: “I wear wing-blocked shoes and ask them to bang out the bottom

and platform so they’re really flat. Freed also three-quarters the shank and makes the vamp and sides to my specifications. A lot of shoes try to make you go over your pointe more, and that just doesn’t

work for my ankles.”

Rausch’s advice to dancers: “Talk to someone who has a foot shape similar to yours, especially if you like the way her shoes look. Find out what she wears and what her tricks are. It’s really a matter of trial and error.”

Button in Jose Martinez's Resonance (Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Boston Ballet)

Dusty ButtonPrincipal, Boston Ballet

Foot type: Wide at the ball, narrow at the heel

Shoe: Bloch Inc. Jetstream

Customizations: “To accommodate my foot shape, Bloch makes the heel of my shoe much narrower than the base. Because my arch is closer to my heel than the middle of my foot, they remove one of the nails from the bottom so it breaks right where my arch is.”

Button’s advice to dancers: “Don’t just follow what’s trendy. I think it’s silly when people tell you not to wear a certain brand or type of shoe. Find what actually works for your foot, regardless of anyone else’s thoughts or what your favorite dancer wears.”

Erickson in La Bayadere (Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre)

Julia Erickson, Principal, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Foot type: Wide and square, with bunions

Shoe: Gaynor Minden #4 box

Customizations: “I have some of the material cut down on the sides, and the back half of the upper is made with Gaynor Minden’s Luxe fabric lining, which prevents the wrinkling that can happen when you point your foot in your shoe. I also have a box liner because I’m kind of in between sizes. I wear both the hard shank and the ExtraFlex shank, depending on the role I’m dancing. These shoes are great, because they really let my metatarsals spread and alleviate the pressure on my bunions.”

Erickson’s advice to dancers: “Be patient. It takes time to find the shoe that feels like an extension of your body. Wear what makes you feel free to dance the way you want to dance.”

Angelova in Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht Ballet (Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy The Suzanne Farrell Ballet)

Violeta Angelova, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet

Foot type: Under-pronated with a recovering injury on the fifth metatarsal

Shoe: Sansha Etudes

Customizations: “I don’t have a special order on this particular shoe. I actually wear a few different brands of pointe shoes depending on the role that I’m dancing. These shoes are very quiet, so when I recently danced Giselle, which has so many jumps, they worked well. I do have to make sure my shoes are softened properly to avoid aggravating my fifth metatarsal.”

Angelova’s advice to dancers: “Try as many different shoes as possible. If you can, have a fitting with a shoe company and see if they can make a trial shoe especially for you.”

Scheller with Tyler Angle in Balanchine's The Four Temperaments (Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB)

Ana Sophia Scheller, Principal, New York City Ballet

Foot type: Wide

Shoe: Grishko Nova

Customizations: “My vamp and sides are slightly shorter than those of the stock shoe, and my shank is measured to break with my arch, with additional flexibility through demi-pointe. I like that these shoes last a lot longer than any others I’ve worn.”

Scheller’s advice to dancers: “You always want a pretty shoe, but make sure it’s also comfortable so it doesn’t cause injuries.”

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