Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms
We know that there is an overwhelming amount of information that can be easily accessed at your fingertips with technology, but we want to share some of the most common references we use while talking about pointe shoes. This is just a little bit of the information that professional fitters use to ensure all aspects of dancers’ needs are being met when being fitted for pointe shoes.


The general shape of the foot can narrow down your selection of options to pick from in the pointe shoe market. While shape is a big influence, there are many other factors that go into why a fitter chooses shoes for your feet. 



The tape that finishes the top edge of the upper which also encases the drawstring.

The hardened surface area of a pointe shoe which includes the vamp, wings and platform, surrounds 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.

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.

Heel Strap
A satin tab which is sewn over the joining seams of the back uppers.

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

The outer most sole of pointe shoes is made from leather.

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.

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

The measured pleating which draws the satin over the Box which meets the Outsole.

Shank / Insole
A combination 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. 

Side Seam
The stitching on the side seam is a double French stitch which ensures strength and sews front Upper to the back Upper.

A thin suede or cotton fabric covering the inner shank.

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

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

Vamp (Modified)
The measurement from the centre middle of the drawstring to the edge of the Platform.

Vamp Shape / Throat Line
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.

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 lesser amount of material and paste. The Wings can vary in shape and hardness depending on the style of pointe shoe or the dancers preference.



Glossary & imaging courtesy of Bloch.


For our most asked questions about pointe shoes, read more here.


Disclaimer: Always get fitted by a professionally trained fitter when searching for new shoes. This information is not intended to be used to “self fit". Our professional fitters are trained specifically to help ensure a safe and proper fitting for every dancer. There is so much more to fitting than just knowing your basic foot structure, what feels good, what looks good and what sounds like you might want to try. 
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