Ballet slippers are shoes made specifically for ballet dancers, though they are also worn non-dancers as casual wear. A traditional ballet slipper has a split sole and soft leather uppers that allow it to conform to the shape of the foot. Ballet slippers are held on elastic or ribbons that the dancer usually places on the shoe. Depending on the style of dance, ballet slippers are commonly worn in practice and in some dance performances.
Non-dancers frequently confuse another type of ballet shoe, the toe or pointe shoe, with ballet slippers. Pointe shoes, on the other hand, are rigid and have a very strong and supportive arch. They enable a dancer to perform en pointe, which means that all of his or her weight is concentrated on the toe’s tip. En pointe dancing dates back to the 1800s and is extremely physically demanding. Many styles of dance, including some modern ballet, do not require the use of pointe shoes, and not all ballet dancers graduate from ballet slippers to pointe shoes.
Ballet slippers tend to be short-lived because disciplined dancers have very strict practice schedules. As their feet grow, young dancers may go through one or more pairs of ballet slippers per month. If the soles of your ballet slippers have started to become deeply worn, the shoes feel uncomfortable, or any part of the shoe has a hole or frayed area, it’s time to replace them. For specific performances, different colors or styles of shoes may be required to keep the dance company looking uniform, and most dancers have several pairs of ballet slippers for this purpose.
Ballet slippers’ fit isn’t as important when they’re worn casually. Dancers, on the other hand, should make sure they get the right shoe size, and ideally have both feet measured to make sure they don’t need two different sizes. Ballet slippers should fit snugly but not tightly, and the toes should not be curled in the front of the shoe when trying them on. Ballet slippers come in a variety of styles, so if one isn’t quite right, different types should be tried on until the dancer finds one that works.