Courtesy Discount Dance Supply

Should You Try a Virtual Pointe Shoe Fitting?

Hopefully, a regular routine of living room relevés is keeping your pointework alive during the social distancing era. Now there's one more thing you can do from home: get fitted for pointe shoes. But should you forgo an in-person fitting?

Discount Dance Supply started planning its Virtual Pointe Fitting program about six months ago, long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. "Initially, the idea was to target dancers who didn't have access to either a store in their area that carried a wide variety of pointe shoes or quality and trained fitters," says fit specialist Greer Yarborough, who helped develop the program. They're not totally alone: Canada's National Ballet School's Shoe Room also has virtual fittings, and brands like Gaynor Minden offer detailed questionnaires.


Discount Dance Supply's service costs $25, a nonrefundable flat fee that gets you up to three online fittings to use within a year. To initiate the process, you start by filling out a questionnaire with about 30 questions including your age, if you've done pointe before, what brands you've worn, what you liked about those, what you didn't like and detailed questions covering foot shape. You're also prompted to upload three photos, one of your feet from the top in sixth position, one in a relevé in first, and one in a tendu side.

Based on those answers, a fit specialist selects about four shoes to send, often two styles in two sizes that alter in length or width. Yarborough notes that the fitters might also include a number of accessories in the shipment such as gel tips, toe spacers and box liners. When the shoes arrive, they schedule a time for the live-video fitting. "Facetime, Skype, Google Duo—however they want to do it," says Yarborough.

Courtesy Discount Dance Supply

The next step is where in-person and digital fittings most differ. "In person, I'm usually a pretty physical fitter. I'm on the floor and moving their feet and feeling the shoes," says Yarborough. Online, fitters have to verbally walk the dancer through these motions and make sure they're getting enough feedback to assess the fit.

If the dancer likes a shoe and an accessory, they're charged for whatever is kept and can return the rest at no cost. One of the three fittings could be a follow-up to see how the shoes are breaking in. If none of the selections fit, you can return the shoes and start the process again.

Discount Dance Supply claims to have a 95 percent success rate for the process. While there are perks—access to more brands than your local store might have, convenience of shopping from home—Yarborough notes it's not a perfect science.

One of the hardest things to gauge is foot compression, how much a foot's metatarsal region narrows when on pointe. "That can be tricky if they don't think they're compressible but I would categorize them as compressible if I were feeling their feet in person," she says. "I would have sent them something more narrow."

Obtaining proper feedback might be particularly difficult with younger dancers who don't know what they're looking for or how to articulate it. Yarborough says that underage dancers need to have permission and be accompanied by a teacher or a parent.

The convenience factor might lessen if you have go through weeks of additional shipments and trial and error, but the greatest risk would be a dancer who isn't ready for pointe obtaining shoes because a fitter can't assess ankle strength in person. Yarborough says fitters watch out for questionnaires that indicate a lack of readiness and pushes back against the idea that this is any different digitally: "You would face that in a brick and mortar setting as well. If someone's going to lie to get pointe shoes, they're going to lie to get pointe shoes."

Latest Posts


Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names and photos to learn more!

Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami CIty Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Ballet West Academy's New Director on Dream Building During COVID-19

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks