Types of Ballet Shoes

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Category : Ballet

What kind is right for your dancer?

Did you know there are different kinds of ballet shoes? When the average person on the street thinks “Ballet,” the first thing in mind is usually a pair of pointe shoes, but as any ballet mom knows, there is so much more. So here’s your primer on the three different kinds of ballet shoes.

Split Sole Shoes

Any ballerina not on pointe will be wearing ballet slippers of some kind, but the first question is whether to get full sole or split sole shoes. So what is a split sole shoe?

Essentially, it means that the harder pad on the bottom of the shoe doesn’t extend over its entire length. It’s there on the ball of the foot and toes, and also on the heel, but there’s a gap through the arch. This means the shoe is less supportive, but that’s actually the point. A split sole shoe allows the ballerina better range of motion in her foot, and will interfere less with pointing and flexing the foot. For this reason, some ballerinas who aren’t on pointe prefer this style of shoe.

Full Sole Shoes

The opposite, of course, is a full sole shoe, which has the sole running the full length of the shoe. These are more supportive and usually favored by newer dancers, but it really comes down to personal preference. Some ballerinas, even experienced ones, prefer the added support that comes from a full sole shoe.

Another thing to keep in mind is the material the shoe is made from. Most ballet shoes are made of satin, canvas, or leather. Satin may look pretty, but leather is generally the most durable. A good middle ground are canvas shoes, which are generally cheaper than leather, but far more durable than satin.

Pointe Shoes

Then, of course, there are pointe shoes. Pointe shoes are worn only by highly experienced ballerinas and are specially designed to provide support to the feet and ankles. They fit in a way that helps ballerinas do all their amazing moves on pointe.


Your teachers can also help you know what kind of shoes you need. Learn more about all our ballet classes here!


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