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Sarah Schaefer on Finding the Right Fit

In partnership with act'ble & Sarah Schaefer


Finding the right pair of pointe shoes is synonymous with finding the right partner. The right support helps you in times of need and allows you to thrive and become a better person. The same is with the perfect pair of pointe shoes; they help you feel secure and make your dancing come alive. While we know this, why is finding the right pair still so problematic?


With retired shoemakers, delayed deliveries, and a messed-up supply chain, finding the right fit for dancers in 2022 continues to be even more complex and challenging than ever before.


In this series of Finding The Right Fit, we follow the pointe shoe journey of three professional dancers: Suzan Sittig, Cécile Kaltenbach, and Sarah Schaefer. From their first fittings to their transition from student to company life, we explore the many facets and demands of a dancer, and ultimately, what one looks for in finding the right fitand the consequences for not wearing the right ones.




"Retraining is the most difficult process when finding new pointe shoes. I have to force myself to get used to a new model, like finding my balance or pirouettes again."



Pointe shoe brands worn

Pointe shoe models worn

6

8

From First Fitting to Professional Training

First Pointe Shoe Experience

I was 9 years old, and I was very excited! Sadly, I could only try a few makers and brands at the time, as they were the only ones offered to me. Also, many teachers I had seemed to think that the brands they used to wear would fit all of their students.


Training in My First Pair of Pointe Shoes

We stayed at the barre. I didn’t prepare or break in my shoes before the class, as I didn’t know it was necessary to do so at the time. So my pointe shoes were very hard and didn’t shape my foot very well in the beginning.


The Shoes I was Looking for in School

I was looking for a pair of pointe shoes that would make my feet look better and my arch bigger.


What I Look for as a Professional Dancer in a Company

Aesthetics: The aesthetics I look for relate to lines and high arches, but of course, the length of the foot because I think if your foot looks a bit longer, it creates longer legs and lines. If the lower part of the foot is shorter, it can look worse, like if the shoe goes over too much. It’s better to be more on top of your foot.


Fit: The idea and feeling of losing my shoe can make me very insecure. So for performances, I put a lot of rosin on the heels to make sure they don't slide off. If the fit is too wide in some places, it makes the line look worse and weird.


Longevity: I care but not that much. Of course, it’s nice not having to change shoes so often, but at the same time, you get to know your shoe; how long it’s going to last. If I have ballet where I have to stand for a long time on one foot, then I plan. But so long as I can dance perfectly in my shoe, I don't care too much about longevity.