I have flatter feet and want to make them look better on pointe. Are there any special pointe shoes for my foot type? —Joana
Rigid, flat feet can be problematic on pointe. This foot type is often accompanied by limited ankle mobility, making it harder to rise fully onto the platform. But a professional fitter can assess your feet and find brand and model options based on your individual needs. Mary Carpenter, a pointe shoe fitter based in New York City, notes that there are two different schools of thought about what works best for feet with low or flat arches: Shoes with a softer shank and lower vamp allow dancers to get over the platform more easily. "The second school of thought is that a harder shoe with a pre-arched shank can give you a little push over the box, sort of like a pole vault," she says. You may want to try both of these designs to see which is more helpful for you. In general, though, look for shoes with a shorter vamp and softer side wings—a high vamp or hard box will pull you back off the platform.
If you have flatter feet,
try shoes with a shorter vamp
and softer side wings.
Carpenter also recommends these DIY tricks of the trade: To improve the line of your arch and provide better weight distribution, three-quarter- or even half-shank your shoes (practice on an old pair first). Then, stitch one long ribbon in a U-shaped pattern (secure under the drawstring casing on one side, continue under the arch and up the other side). "That helps pull the shoe towards your arch so that it's more flattering," she says.
Most importantly, dancers with flat feet and poor ankle mobility should invest extra time in cross-training exercises to develop articulate footwork and a better range of motion. Talk to your teacher about a stretching and strengthening program that includes Thera-Band exercises, slow élevés and passive stretches.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.