Choosing your first pair of ballet shoes can be confusing at first, but we want to clear that up for you so that your first shopping experience for a lovely pair of leather or canvas shoes is simple and pleasant.
First thing is first:
Ask Your Instructor
Ballet shoes are an important purchase for the beginning ballet student and many elements will affect your purchase decision. To make the correct choice, you will need to listen carefully to your instructor and follow their advice about which shoes to buy.
If you are not taking ballet lessons, and cannot seek advice from an instructor or a more advanced ballet dancer, then you will benefit from reading up on the types of ballet shoes available and what options are appropriate for a beginning ballet dancer.
Your ballet class instructor may have requested you purchase a certain type of ballet shoe. Many instructors will provide very clear instructions on which shoe to buy – including the brand, color and style. If your instructor makes specific requests about the type of ballet shoes they prefer you buy, then by all means, follow their directions.
However, if your instructor has made no particular requests, you will need to take your status as a beginning ballet dancer into consideration. This means you should only consider purchasing basic ballet shoes, not pointe shoes. Your instructor will advise students when they can advance to pointe ballet shoes.
You need to be mindful of two things as you make your ballet shoe choice: the shoe’s sole and how the shoe is held on the foot.
Leather vs. Canvas
Genuine leather soles are preferable for ballet shoes. Although more cost effective initially, imitation leather (also known as PU) will not hold up well to dancing and will cause you to need replacement shoes sooner. Canvas shoes are an excellent alternative to leather shoes if you do need to save your pennies but want a shoe that will hold up.
Ballet shoes are kept on the foot either by an elastic strap sewn to the top opposite sides of the shoe, or by ribbons wound around the ankle and lower leg and tied in place. Check with your instructor to see if they have a preference of elastic straps or ribbons. Normally, practice shoes, and shoes for children, have elastic straps. Shoes with ribbons are usually reserved for recitals.
Fitting New Ballet Shoes
Finally, when you have chosen your ballet shoes — try them on! For children, you should purchase your ballet shoes a half size larger than your normal shoes. For adults, your ballet shoes would need to be one full size larger than your normal street shoes. This can vary, so it is best to have your ballet shoes fitted professional at a ballet shop to start.
Your ballet shoes should be comfortable to walk in, of course, but to be certain they are best for you and dancing, try several ballet steps in them as well. If you feel any discomfort at all, try another pair of shoes in a different size or brand.
Ballet shoes are essentially slippers, they should be completely comfortable when you are walking or dancing. The idea of ‘breaking in’ does not apply with ballet shoes, so do not purchase shoes thinking this will happen. You need ballet shoes that fit correctly without abrading your feet anywhere.
If you are in need of high quality canvas or leather ballet shoes, Turning Point offers a lovely selection that you can purchase online, in which you can choose to add ribbon or elastic to suite your needs.