Ballet Shoes

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Putting on a pair of Ballet shoes can make you feel like a proper dancer and will vastly improve your dancing as a result.

So once you're confident that you are going to go to classes, getting a pair of proper Ballet slippers is vital.

Firstly, call your Ballet teacher or studio. They should be able to give you lots of specific detail of what kind of Ballet shoes they expect you to wear. If you don't get specifics, press for them, as the worst thing to do would be to make assumptions and turn up in something the teacher deems inappropriate.

They will probably be able to tell you in advance where to get the Ballet shoes from or may even supply them for you.

For beginners, you need a totally flat leather or satin shoe.

If you have a choice, the leather will last much longer than the satin. The satin will make you feel more like a 'proper' Ballet dancer, but when it's new it is so shiny that it almost glows, so you can't hide any of your mistakes as your feet will appear near-luminous.

Also, they will wear out much quicker (although if it is the scruffy look that you are aiming at – as discussed in the previous Ballet Clothes section – then go for it).

You should always try to buy the shoes ahead of time so that you can try them out a bit at home first to get used to them.

And they will need a little bit of work before they can be used.

Placing Elastic on Ballet Shoes

If your Ballet shoes don't come with elastic already attached (most don't) you'll need to sew elastic onto them so that they'll stay in place.

You simply sew on elastic pieces, usually supplied with the shoes, across the shoe so that it will be held in place. You can be shown how to do this when you buy the shoe.

Ballet Shoes Elastic

There are a few different ways of placing the elastic. It is a matter of personal choice if you want a straight piece from one side of the shoe to the other, a diagonal as shown here or if you want two pieces for extra security or a criss-cross effect for extra comfort as shown below.

Whatever you decide, try to use a reasonably wide elastic that won't easily fray or snap.

And remember that the point of the exercise is to keep the shoe on, not cut off the blood supply to your foot, so don't sew them too tight.

You should be aware that your shoe is securely on your foot and not of discomfort as anything digs into your skin. Here are some pointers:

Ballet Shoe Elastic

If you've bought the shoes without the elastic attached, this criss-cross method is the most popular and secure (although you can just opt for one piece straight across or at an angle as shown above).

Best Tip
Try sewing the ends of the elastic on the outside of the shoe. This will mean that it is less likely to rub the side of your foot and cause irritation when you are dancing.

Ballet Shoe Drawstrings

You will also notice drawstring ties on the front of the shoe.

Ballet Shoe Pull Ties

Pull the ties until the shoe tightens around your foot. Tight enough so there are no gaps between the shoe and your foot, but not too tight!

Ballet Shoe Ties

Then knot the ties and tie in a bow.

Ballet Shoe

Finally, tuck the tied drawstrings well under the front of the shoe so you can't see them.

Voila! You're ready to dance.

Shoes are the only financial outlay before going to a Ballet class, and aren't too expensive. But if you really don't want the expense before you've truly made up your mind about your Ballet lessons, then...

Wearing Socks to Ballet Class

In theory, you can do a Ballet class just wearing socks on your feet.

This isn't ideal as socks don't give you any grip whatsoever, and this can make it hard to hold some of the foot positions. It can also be hazardous, causing you to slip.

But it is better than trying to do a class in bare feet. Then you won't have enough slip to be able to glide your feet through the motions. So socks are better than nothing at all.

Increasingly popular are pirouette socks – socks which just cover the front half of your foot and your toes.

But do always check with your teacher or studio first. Do they insist on proper Ballet shoes? Or are socks good enough to start off with?

And finally, for the beginner, a big No-No...

Ballet Pointe Shoes

A quick word about pointe shoes. These are the 'block' shoes that are constructed to allow a Ballerina to dance by standing on the very tips of her toes.

Ballet Pointe Shoes

There is no law that says you can't buy a pair of these and have a go at dancing in them if you want to. But standing and dancing en pointe is not a matter of simply strapping on the shoes and hoping they will do all the work.

The effort required to dance en pointe is hard, very technical, demands huge strength and usually takes years to achieve.

But, there are people out there who think that simply putting on pointe shoes will magically turn them into a Ballerina. Yes, excruciatingly, we have seen people stupid enough to try this. That's a very harsh thing to say but it is absolute stupidity.

Bear in mind the potential for damage to your feet, legs and back is so high, you will almost certainly injure yourself.

You won't be able to dance in them properly and therefore won't look like you thought you would. And it'll be ridiculously painful.

And as if you need any more warning, you could be ruining your chance of becoming a really good dancer in the future by doing damage to your body that you can't undo.

Anyone who has a genuine, sincere interest in Ballet and dancing it, would never consider standing en pointe unless fully trained to do so.

Warning over!

So for now, just a plain pair of ordinary Ballet shoes are going to make you feel wonderful and will greatly help your dancing.

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