We know there are a lot of videos on the Internet these days of how dancers break in their shoes. There are so many ways to manually manipulate your shoes to make them work better for your feet: cutting the shank, gluing your shoes, and vamp elastic, just to name a few. Often times, the dancers in these videos are highly experienced and often professionals...they know exactly what works for them and typically do not rely on their shoes to do the work for them en pointe. They're not still developing their technique (although we're always refining it 😉) and do not need to be overly concerned with developing strength in their feet as much as younger dancers. Most importantly, what works for one dancer may not work for another!
Our pointe fitters consider the whole dancer, not just what looks "pretty" or generally just works for everyone, so when we select a shoe together in a fitting there might be specific reasons for that choice. When you manually manipulate your shoe after the fitting, without our guidance, it can sometimes set us back the next time you come in for a fitting. We like to compare it to getting your hair colored; if you get your hair colored by a professional, but then you try to do something different to it at home, your colorist won't always be able to move forward next time because much of the focus can be on correcting your "fix."
If you've had a professional fitting at Allegro, you know we do many barefoot tests before even putting a shoe on your foot. Then you'll recall that we try on a lot of shoes! With our ever-expanding inventory (right now boasting over 50+ styles of pointe shoes), we want to make sure we meet all of the right specifications for your feet. Finding the right shoe can be a journey and one shoe choice can inform the next. If you manually manipulate a shoe and find it is not working for you, it becomes harder to know if it was truly the shoe or the result of changing it. It can give you a really false sense of how a certain style or brand can work for your feet. Even more serious to consider is that this could potentially lead to injury, developing poor movement patterns or poor technique en pointe. We don't want that for any of our dancers.
Allegro's take? Dancers should only manually manipulate their shoes with their pointe fitter, this way together you can see what works and what doesn't. We are happy to guide you and teach you this process, as we believe it is important for dancers to understand how to support themselves throughout their dance career, but we will also make sure you're ready to be able to properly manipulate your shoes solo.
We know there might be a lingering question in your mind: what about having my teacher do it? While we 100% support talking to your teacher about any pointe shoe concerns (this should always be your first step), we caution you against manipulating your shoes before talking to your fitter as well. Pointe shoe brands, styles and technology have evolved so much, especially in the last 5 years. Our Allegro pointe fitters spend hundreds of hours learning about these changes, fitting shoes and working with all different types of dancers--it's our job! There are things professional fitters know about pointe shoes that some teachers couldn't possibly know, even though they might be the best teachers on the planet!