Ballet is all about sophisticated footwork, so everyone who takes part in needs a comfy pair of shoes. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, picking the right ballet shoes is crucial, otherwise you risk the chance of falling, twisting an ankle or badly injuring yourself. What are some of the ways of choosing the perfect dancing shoes?
What are Ballet Shoes Made of?
The process of creating pointe shoes is difficult and time-consuming, and shoemakers create many shoe models as well as custom-fitted ones. The reason being, every dancer’s feet are unique, with differences in toe length and shape, arch flexibility, and mechanical strength, therefore no two pairs of pointe shoes are similar.
However, all pointe shoes include two structural elements that allow dancers to dance on the tips of their toes. The first one is the box within the shoe’s front end that supports the dancer’s toes. The front end of the box is flat, providing an ideal platform for the dancer to balance and pirouette on. This part is usually made of densely packed layers of paper and cloth that have been glued together and then fashioned into an enclosure. When the glue cures, it hardens and gives the necessary firmness. The box of some contemporary pointe shoes is constructed of plastic and rubber.
The second one is the shank which is a piece of hard material that stiffens the sole and provides support for the arch of the en pointe foot. Shanks are typically made from leather, plastic, cardstock, or layers of glue-hardened burlap, and the flexibility of it is determined by the type of material used.
Before you throw your money away, you should know about the materials most commonly used for covering up the whole shoe. They are generally made from three materials, each of which has advantages and downsides. With the option to choose from leather or canvas fabrics, you can buy ballet shoes online and secure your next performance.
Canvas ballet shoes are simple to clean and maintain. After each use, simply throw them in the washing machine to keep them clean between each session. These lightweight canvas shoes fit the foot well, emphasising the lines and shape, and as such are ideal for novices. But it’s important to note that they won’t last as long as leather shoes and can rapidly exhibit wear and tear from regular usage.
Leather shoes are the most popular option for the full-sole mode, and one of the most long-lasting materials. Leather shoes give more support, so if you need to buy ballet shoes that assist young dancers in developing proper technique as their feet strengthen, this is the perfect choice. Ballet footwear made from leather moulds to your foot as you use it more, and it stretches when warmed up.
The biggest downside of it is that it is among the costliest alternatives, making it an investment. Also, cleaning leather can be a difficult task because it’s not machine washable and filth can rapidly become embedded in the shoes
Sometimes you’ll come across satin shoes, which are the most delicate of the three materials. As a result, they are only worn by dancers on rare occasions. Although typically available in light-pink tones, you can currently find them in a variety of colours, depending on the needed theme of the performance.
Full Sole vs Split Sole
Prior to the invention of split sole shoes, professional dancers would frequently fold and wrinkle their full sole shoes to make the arches more flexible. A spit-sole ballet shoe includes distinct heel and toe pads made of abrasive materials for traction, dividing it into two halves, thus the name.
Because the shoe’s midsection lacks support, the bottom of each sole is made of soft materials to protect the foot. This design makes the shoe flexible, reducing the possibility of injury. Because there is no support, the dancers may flex and point their feet, accentuating the arch’s curvature.
Split-sole ballet shoes enable dancers to perform cleaner footwork and skills, which is essential during competitions and practical assessments. Dancers who use these shoes have better balance and confidence as they work on developing their spins and movement.
Ballet technique shoes with split soles are a relatively recent concept. They’ve only been on the dance scene for around two decades. Because split sole shoes do not have a leather sole in the arch of the shoe, dancers may point their feet more easily. The tip also seems to be more exaggerated, which is regarded as more attractive and indicative of a greater degree of expertise.
Different Types of Ballet Shoes
Professional dancers use pointe shoes, which allow them to perform on tiptoes for extended periods of time. Ballet slippers are often worn by dancers before they go en pointe. These are shoes that are light and comfortable. Male dancers typically wear ballet slippers throughout their training. Similarly, female dancers begin courses using ballerina slippers before transitioning to pointe shoes.
Ballet dancers may wear several pointe shoe styles for different performances. Aggressive styles necessitate stiffer pointe shoes, whilst lyrical styles necessitate softer pointe shoes. Pointe shoes can be worn for ten to twenty hours. Ballet dancers will wear it out in a single performance. Fit, breaking-in, technique, usage, foot strength, weight, and performance surface all contribute to the lifespan of pointe shoes. Demi-pointe shoes are extremely similar to pointe shoes, however, they lack firm construction and do not have a shank, making them gentler. Pointe technique beginners utilise them to strengthen their feet and ankles.
History of Ballet Shoes
As the cherry on top, a little history of this amazing footwear. It goes all the way back dancers used heeled shoes in the courts of Europe throughout the birth of the ballet art form. These were delicate and pricey shoes made of high-quality silk and with soft leather soles. Marie Camargo, a Paris Opéra Ballet dancer, was the first to remove her shoes’ heels in the 1730s, paving the way for the soft slipper we know today. Camargo is a transitional shoe between a heeled shoe and a pointe shoe. Camargo was able to do jumps and quick allégros that were not feasible with heeled shoes, broadening ballerinas’ movement repertoire.
But the forefather of traditional pointe shoes is considered to be Charles Didelot. He abandoned ballet dancing shoes with heels, with the new ones having flat bottoms, ribbons to keep the shoe on the foot, and material beneath the toes to allow ballet dancers to stand on their toes. However, ballet shoes lacked foot support and structure unlike today’s advanced design. Ballet dancers had to rely only on their power because they were only wearing satin slippers with leather soles.