Earning your first pair of Pointe shoes is a big deal, so congratulations on this incredible accomplishment!
While other dance shoes can be purchased online, Pointe shoes require an exact fit. There are so many different brands, styles and features of Pointe shoes that make it necessary to buy your Pointe shoes in person from a reliable source that knows how to properly fit girls for Pointe.
For your first pair of pointe shoes, please plan on traveling to a reputable dance shoe store in Pittsburgh or Erie. These stores will have more selections to choose from and extensive experience in fitting first-time "en pointe" ballerinas.
Wherever you get your Pointe shoes, be sure to call ahead and make an appointment! You'll want the shop keeper's undivided attention to help make sure you get the perfect fit. And make sure you tell her/him that you are new to Pointe and will only be using the shoes in class once a week.
Here are the parts of the Pointe shoe that you might hear about:
If you have a narrow foot, the attendant may be tempted to fit you in a shoe with a tapered box, but Ms. Janet does not recommend this for beginners since the tapered box gives you a more narrow platform on which to balance. Please make sure your box is not tapered! Instead, you can use Lamb's Wool to fill the space around your toes. (See below.)
Make sure you can get on the platform and box fully with straight knees. The entire platform should rest flatly on the floor while on Pointe.
Your shoes should have a soft to medium shank. This makes it easier to break in, especially for beginners. Again, remind your fitter that you'll only have one Pointe class a week this year.
And most importantly, do not buy shoes to grow into. This is very dangerous. Pointe shoes are not cheap, but you cannot be thrifty with them. You should expect your dancer to grow out of their shoes before winter is through. Think of it this way... you would spend close to $100 for the 2-hour experience of seeing a Broadway show. Pointe shoes are a $100 experience that you get for half a year! It's better to see the investment for the experience that your child is gaining rather than just a really expensive pair of shoes. :-)
In addition to the shoes themselves, your purchase will also come with elastic and ribbons that will need to be sewn on. Ms. Janet likes to teach students how to sew their own Pointe shoes! So wait until your first Pointe class to put it all together.
There are some other accessories that you'll need for your Pointe shoes. At the bare minimum, you will need:
Toe Tape (or cloth medical tape)
Some students find that they need Toe Spacers, Heel Grips or some of the other accessories shown below. The attendant at the store who fits you for your Pointe shoes should be able to help you determine if you're going to need any of these items. And as you start your Pointe training, you may discover along the way that you need some additional support in your shoes. Ms. Janet will be able to tell you what you need at that point!
For your first Pointe class, be sure to bring the following items:
Your Pointe shoes, elastic and ribbons
Needles and thread (something sturdy!)
a Sewing partner! (preferably mom)
If you don't have your Pointe shoes for your first day of class, you can still bring your sewing partner, some elastic and ribbons and an old pair of ballet shoes.
Amazon's got a great little Pointe shoe sewing kit!
At your first Pointe class, Ms. Janet will teach the girls the correct placement of the elastic and ribbons on their shoes and how to sew these pieces on themselves. (An important skill for dancers!) She will also teach the girls how to properly tie the ribbons.
Good luck on your journey toward dancing "en Pointe"! The road isn't easy, but it is so so worth it.