Anatomy of a pointe shoe

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Glossary of terms

Binding

The Tape that finishes the top edge of the Upper which also encases the Drawstring.

Block/Box

The hardened area of a pointe shoe which includes the Vamp, Wings and Platform surrounding the front section of the foot. The Block/Box is made from the application of numerous layers of special fabrics, all with different shapes, bound together by the paste in between each layer. This process is very similar to the process of papier maché.

Drawstring

A length of either cotton cord or elastic cord encased within the binding that allows the Upper to form a snug fit around the foot.

Last

The foot shaped mold around which the pointe shoe is manufactured.

Outsole

The outer most sole of the shoe and for pointe shoes is made from leather.

Paste

A specially formulated glue type substance, which is used in both the process of hardening the toe Block/Box and attaching the Insole to the inside of the pointe shoe.

Platform

The flattened surface at the toe end of the pointe shoe which allows the dancer to balance ‘en pointe’.

Shank/Insole

A combination of a number of layers of special materials into a unique profile which forms the structural anchor similar to the way a spine supports the human body. Shanks/Insoles are developed in different profiles creating various levels of flexibility.

Upper

All the parts above the shoe’s sole that are joined together to become a single unit which is then attached to the Insole and Outsole.

Vamp

The lower forward part of the shoe’s Upper, covering the forepart of the foot including the Block/Box and Platform.

Vamp Shape/Throat

The shape of the entrance area for the front of the foot. In Bloch pointe shoes the Vamp Shape is either “U” Shaped or “V” Shaped.

Wing

Each of the two symmetrical sides of the Vamp directed toward the heel. The outer edge of the hardened toe Block/Box that contain a graduated amount of material and paste. The Wings can vary in shape and hardness depending on the style of pointe shoe or the dancer’s preference.