Is your tiny dancer ready to step up from princess house slippers? Does your studio advocate wearing real ballet slippers instead of socks? There are many sources for dance gear, and to be sure, you will always find a deal online. But one of the advantages of visiting your local dance store is the sheer pleasure of trying on ballet slippers surrounded by tutus and tiaras. Your child may even be fitted by a real professional dancer (priceless). Although there are several ballet shoe options available, here are three points to consider: 1.) what does the dance teacher prefer? 2.) what will the child wear? 3.) what do you want to spend?
What does the dance teacher prefer?
Many teachers simply request pink ballet slippers for the girls and black ballet slippers for the boys. However, sometimes they may ask for specific types of shoes. I’ve listed some characteristics below for leather, canvas, full sole and split sole ballet slippers.
Leather ballet slippers
Leather ballet slippers are easy to maintain. With time, the leather softens. Leather dance shoes mold to growing feet.
Canvas ballet slippers
Canvas ballet slippers are soft and breathable. Often they have more pleats than leather shoes and therefore accommodate wider feet.
Full sole ballet slippers
Full sole ballet slippers offer structure and support. Some teachers prefer a full sole as it challenges the arch and ankles. This bit of resistance helps to strengthen muscles in the feet and ankles.
Split sole ballet slippers
Split sole ballet slippers hug the arch. This is the type of shoe most adults prefer as it is aesthetically pleasing and helps to show the lines of the foot and ankle.
What will the child actually wear?
If the shoe is comfortable, the child will more likely wear the shoe. This often comes down to fit and fabric. Commonly, adults will prefer a ballet shoe that fits like a glove. This kind of fit allows for the greatest amount of control of the foot in the shoe. It also promotes the most aesthetically pleasing lines. Children, however, especially young children under 6, do not necessarily require nor will they tolerate a professional fit.
Ballet slippers for very young dancers should be as fitted as possible so that the foot does not slide around in the shoe. It should remain large enough for the child’s entire foot to rest comfortably on the floor. Ideally, the child should be able to put the shoe on him/herself.
As for the fabric, some children may prefer leather over canvas as leather feels more supportive and more similar to a regular street shoe. On the other hand, canvas may be preferable because it feels lighter and more sock-like.
What do you want to spend?
At a dance store, expect to spend between $14 to $18 for children’s ballet shoes. Canvas is generally less expensive than leather ballet shoes by around $4. You may save a few dollars if you buy online or at a big-box store, but keep in mind, by visiting your local dance shop, you are supporting the local economy. This means you are supporting your local dance community, too!