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Basic Anatomy of A Pointe Shoe

Let’s understand the structure of the pointe shoe together!
I’m sure you've noticed during your pointe shoe fitting - or maybe you’re about to have your first one! Depending on how your pointe shoe looks on you, you’ve noticed them adjust the vamp size, give you a narrow instead of a wide box, adjust the shank size or hardness, etc. Throughout the pointe shoe fitting, these are the things they change based on how they fit on your feet and how you feel on pointe. We want you to be confident in your pointe shoes! So if you have any questions during - or after - your fitting, don't be afraid to ask!
Basic Pointe Shoe Anatomy Chart
1. Vamps
This is the front of the pointe shoe. The vamp refers to the length of the shoe from the opening of the shoe to the base. 
  • Shape:
    • There are two types of vamp shapes:
        • V-Cut: without drawstring. Not only that, but the v-cut gives the pointe shoe a more classical elegant look.
        • U-Cut: includes drawstring, which helps reduce the gaping in between the pointe shoe and foot. The u-cut gives a more contemporary, athletic look.
    • Length:
      • While the length of the vamp also varies based on the length of the toes.
        • There are different vamp heights: High, mid, or low vamp.
        • For longer toes a longer(deep) vamp, for shorter toes a shorter vamp.
      2. Heel
      Depending on the shape of your heel, - whether you have a wide or narrow heel - will determine if you need a high heel (more fabric in the back), or a lower heel (less fabric in the back).
      3. Shank
      This is the most important part of the pointe shoe for providing support for the dancer's feet to stay en pointe. It's meant to help reinforce the sole. It's located in between the outer sole and the insole.
      • Hardness:
      Depending on the brand, they might have more options when it comes to shank, but what you'll typically see is a soft shank, medium shank, and hard shank.
      • Length:
      The length of the shank will vary depending on the style you go for and what your foot might need. There are full shank, ¾ shank, and half shank.
      4. Box
      The box is another important part of a pointe shoe. It’s where your toes are placed, and it’s meant to support them. It's also determined by the width of the dancer's metatarsals.

      Boxes come in different shapes to fit the shape of the dancer’s feet: 
      1. Tapered: This style tapper narrows towards the tip of the foot. It’s perfect for those with really narrow feet, or Egyptian feet. 
      2. Slightly Tapered: These are those with average size feet. ‘Peasant’ or ‘Greek’ tapered toes
      3. Square: The box of this pointe shoe is only slightly tapered in, it’s supposed to be for those with wide metatarsals.
      5. Platform
      This is the hard, flat surface of the pointe shoe that provides a base for the dancer to balance on when en pointe.
      Previous article Does the Size of the Heel on a Tap Shoe Matter?