For professional ballet dancers, the search for the perfect pointe shoe is a lifelong quest. Even the smallest adjustment in manufacturing can make the difference between a shoe that allows a ballerina to soar and a shoe that detracts from her dancing. So what goes into creating the perfect fit? A lot of hard work, patience, and masterful attention to detail. We got the inside scoop on how a Bloch pointe shoe is made from beginning to end, and went inside one of American Ballet Theatre principal Devon Teuscher's touch-up fittings with Bloch owner David Fox in NYC.
Once a dancer has ascended the ranks in the professional world, she can start to explore customizing her pointe shoes. "I started wearing the Bloch Alpha when I was 15 years old living in Vermont," says Teuscher. "But I didn't begin making adjustments to them until around the time I became a soloist with ABT."
According to Fox, the number of variable adjustments a dancer could make is infinite: "There isn't just one factor involved in solving issues," he says. "If a dancer is too far over on her box, it could be a combination of problems with the angle of the platform, the height of the support, the length of the vamp, and the strength of the shank." Most dancers who wear Bloch meet with shoemakers or fitters two to four times per year to discuss customization.
A version of this story appeared in the March 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "The Life of a Pointe Shoe."