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Ballet/pointe shoes


QUESTION: Dear Dianne, I'm just about to start pointe work, and my teacher tells me that, when standing en pointe, I should balance my weight between all of the toes on my foot. But only my first two toes touch the box in my shoe, so how do I avoid putting all of my weight just on those two toes? Also, my big toe slopes sideways towards my second toe, and I've been told to use toe spacers to straighten it, but the shoe tapers at the toes, pushing my big toe sideways again, so how do I keep my big toe straight? Thanks for your advice.

ANSWER: Hi Liz. It sounds like you need a square box with the toe spacers. It really is important not to let your big toe slant sideways.

Your weight is going to mainly sit on the first two toes. Having a snug shoe gives support. It must be wide enough so you can plie and let your toes spread a little - yet narrow enough for support when you're on pointe. If you have a soft squishy foot it is usually a tapered box that is best. But, do you?

If you can, try on a few brands of shoes. is a brief article about using the toe spacer.

A little lamb's wool or a cut out gel pad for the last three toes may even the pressure in the pointe shoes. Whatever works, and it will take some experimentation.

Hope this helps!

All the best, Dianne.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Dianne, thanks for your answer. I do have very squishy feet, unfortunately. Would a square box still be most appropriate for me?

Hi Liz. The guideline is for squishy or compressible feet to use tapered shoes. Getting the correct width is important.

The shoe has to hug the foot to give it support. I hope you have the opportunity to try on several pairs of shoes, and be sure to use the toe spacers when you do.

Regards, Dianne.


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Dianne M. Buxton


I can answer questions about ballet positions, ballet movements and ballet technique, pointe shoes and pre pointe exercise, mens training, ballet diet, general health issues related to dance, artistry, performance, modern dance, rehabilitation from injuries, and teaching ballet. I have taught ballet, choreographed, produced and directed dance companies. For any answers related to health questions I will offer my experience, and give references to information, but I also automatically include "see a professional".


dancer, ballet and modern, choreographer, dance teacher, artistic director, ballet mistress, producer

I.S.T.D. Actra, Actors Equity


Graduate of the National Ballet School of Canada where I studied Cecchetti, Bournonville, Vaganova and Graham technique. Taught at the National Ballet School of Canada, York University, George Brown College and Harvard University.

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