Pros and Cons of the Major Pointe Shoe Brands

9 Popular Brands and Styles Reviewed

Dancing en pointe is an integral part of a ballet dancer's training. A ballet rite of passage of sorts, receiving the nod from your instructor to schedule a pointe shoe fitting is a big deal.

Pointe shoes have come a long way from their earliest days. They have been reformed and transformed into precise instruments. If fitted correctly, pointe shoes can look and feel like magic on a dancer's feet. However, not all pointe shoes are made the same, just as no two feet are exactly alike.

If you are searching for pointe shoes, you will have several decisions to make, including brand and style. Your instructor will most likely have a preference or recommendation, but this list of pointe shoe brands will serve as a good reference. It's highly recommended that you schedule a pointe shoe fitting with a professional fitter, as pointe shoes are not meant to be fit like regular dance shoes.

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A ballet dancer laces her pointe shoes

Yusuke Tadika/Getty Images

Master craftsman Jacob Bloch began making pointe shoes in 1932. Bloch's extensive line of pointe shoes gives dancers around 30 choices, including popular favorite "Serenade." Bloch claims its Serenade insole and can be molded to the unique contours of a dancer's feet from the very first time they are worn.

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Capezio has covered the feet of some of the greatest performers in history: Anna Pavlova, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Sammy Davis Jr., Charles "Honi" Coles, Yul Brynner, Eleanor Powell, and Bob Fosse. Capezio's popular Glisse pointe shoe debuted in Spring 2003. The Glisse has become the company's best-selling pointe shoe ever. It features a streamlined, rounded sole; a flattering, high U-shaped vamp; an extended platform for maximum support; shaved shank for enhanced in-step; and attractive elastic drawstring.

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Freed of London

Founded in London, England in 1929 by shoemaker Frederick Freed, Freed of London supplies pointe shoes to many of the leading ballet companies throughout the world. The company is one of few that boasts handmade pointe shoes, but they don't last very long. There are six varieties of Freed Pointe shoes, but its "Classics" are the most popular and most easily recognized.

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Chacott is a subsidiary branch of Freed of London. Chacott pointe shoes are known for a short break-in period, an important feature to many dancers. 

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Gamba pointe shoes are made by the French company Repetto and their shoes are made in the same French factory. The Gamba line contains eight styles including the ABT which was designed for American Ballet Theatre dancers. 

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Gaynor Minden

Gaynor Minden pointe shoes are preferred by many dancers because they are designed with high-tech impact reduction and shock absorbers. Many new dancers tend to prefer Gaynor Minden pointe shoes because they don't have to be broken in and they last much longer than other brands. 

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Grishko pointe shoes are handmade in Russia and are available in eight different styles. The Grishko company claims that their pointe shoes have extreme durability with the secret lying in the glue used in making the toe box. Seven layers of different fabrics are glued with a special glue to create each pointe shoe. 

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Prima Soft

Prima Soft pointe shoes are available in five styles. The company uses synthetics in order to increase life and reduce break-in time of their shoes. Prima Soft pointe shoes contain "graduated memory shanks," allowing the shoe to retain its shape when the dancer stands flat. 

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Sansha pointe shoes are known for their replaceable shank system that allows dancers to lengthen or shorten their shanks as needed. Sansha offers nine models and four widths.