Girls in Ballet class wearing traditional pink shoes and tights


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Ballet shoes are lightweight shoes designed especially for ballet dancing. For over 300 years, people have locked to the ballet to witness the grace, elegance and beauty of ballerinas. Aspiring prima ballerinas of all ages have access to beautiful and functional ballet shoes and slippers that will enhance their dancing and their outfits. Traditionally, girls wear pink ballet shoes while the men opt for black or white ballet shoes. Today however, many ballet dancers and dance companies are opting for tan or flesh colored shoes to give the illusion that the dancers are dancing barefoot.

When selecting the right ballet shoes for girls, it is important to consider the level of expertise, the fit and size, and the materials that are used. For beginning ballerinas, a basic shoe can help to develop proper technique and form. For intermediate dancers, softer shoes made of leather with split soles are recommended. Consult with your daughter’s ballet instructor for advice on the right shoe for practices and performances. The fit is essential to prevent injury and permanent damage; change sizes as often as needed.

Construction Materials For Ballet Shoes

Today, ballet shoes are often crafted from soft leather, canvas or satin and most have a traditional leather sole. Ballerinas today can opt for a sole that is split providing greater flexibility when they point. Leather ballet shoes for girls are often preferred as they last longer and are more comfortable and durable. However, they are a bit more pricey than canvas or satin ballet shoes. The lesser expensive option of canvas shoes are a good choice for some that may not dance as often as they wear faster than ballet shoes constructed of leather. Additionally, canvas shoes breathe better than leather ballet shoes which are a concern in areas with higher humidity and heat. Typically, satin ballet shoes are only worn in recitals or performances as they can soil and wear very quickly. Ballet shoes are secured to the foot with elastic, typically a band of elastic crosses the foot; some models have a double band of elastic in an X configuration.

The Fit Of Ballet Shoes

Ballet shoes for girls must fit properly to ensure that they have the stability and flexibility they need for practices and performance. An ill-fitting ballet slipper can lead to blisters and even slips and falls. When choosing the proper size, it is important to remember that the scale for ballet shoes differs from that of street shoes. Generally you should select a ballet slipper in 1 ½ to 2 sizes smaller than the typical street shoe size. When trying on a ballet shoe, stand in first position to determine if it is too tight or just snug enough. If the ballerina experiences her toes sliding forward, select a shoe one size down, and try first position again. If on the other hand if the ballet shoe is digging into the back of the heel or is uncomfortably tight, go up one size. You will know when you have found the right size as you will not have to tighten the string and the shoe stays in place and toes wiggle freely. Purchase a new pair of ballet shoes as the feet grow to prevent permanent damage and injury.

Soft Ballet Shoes

These are typically the first pair that all aspiring ballerinas wear and as they grow in age and mature as a dancer, they will always have a spot in the dancer’s bag. Soft ballet shoes are designed to conform to the foot to build strength while practicing technique and proper form. When they fit properly, they are comfortable and durable. They can have either a split sole or a full leather sole. A split sole is separated at the ball of the foot and is ideal for stronger dancers when they pointe.

Pointe Ballet Shoes

Pointe, or toe shoes are constructed of stiffer and harder materials to support the foot. Unlike the soft ballet shoes, the sole of the foot contains a shank designed to support the arch of the foot. The box, or the top part of the shoe, is also constructed out of harder materials to support the toes and arch through a variety of medium to advanced movements and techniques. The fit of a pointe or toe shoe is critical; a poorly fitted shoe can result in injury or an inhibited performance. While these shoes are designed to be stiffer and provide more support, there must be a breaking in period where the dancer and the shoe become friends. The box needs to be broken in where the toes bend so that the dancer can rise in a releve and tendu. The shank, the stiffest part of the shoe must be broken in to allow flexibility but still maintain the arch support dancers require.

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