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Types Of Ballet Shoes That You Should Know

15 Mar 2023


How Ballet Shoes Came to Be

The word ‘Ballet’ was established in the 17th century and comes from the Italian ‘Ballere’ meaning ‘to dance.’ Although it originated in Italy, ballet was soon recognized in the French royal courts in 1559 when Italian Catherine De Medici married the French King Henry II. And it was later popularized by King Louis XIV who was the King of France from 1643 to 1715.

Women began ballet dancing in 1682, when ballet shoes still had heels. Years later, in the mid-18th century, the popular Paris Opera ballet dancer Marie-Annie Camargo paved the way for dancers everywhere by taking the heels off her dance shoes. Camargo was an innovator in other ways, rejecting the restrictive costumed dancers of the time wore.

Marie Taglioni (23 April 1804 – 22 April 1884) was a Swedish ballet dancer of the Romantic ballet era, a central figure in the history of European dance. She was very famous for performing La Sylphide, which was the first performance without wires and was the start of people dancing ‘on their toes’. It was considered a huge step forward in ballet and is what made ballet more like it is today.

The much-loved 20th century Russian born Anna Pavlova (famous for The Dying Swan) popularised ballet dancing across the globe. Pavlova had extremely arched steps and slender feet which meant the traditional Ballet slippers put added pressure on her toes and ankles. To solve her problems, this innovator created the modern-day pointe shoe, complete with supportive shank and box

What are Ballet Shoes made of?

Types Of Ballet

Dancers wear ballet flats, which are typically made of canvas, leather, or satin and feature a light sole and a rounded toe. These shoes have no heel and have a flexible sole that is used for ballet dancing specifically. Colors like pink, white, ivory, nude, and black are common options.

Ballet shoes are worn by both male and female dancers, while pointe shoes are reserved for female dancers and typically not issued until the dancer is at least 11 or 12 years old and has been training in ballet for many years. The difference between pointe shoes and ballet shoes are the box and the shank at the front part of the ballet shoes.

Types Of Ballet Shoes

Dancers work incredibly hard and after years of intense training, they take to the stange with beauty and grace.

Finding the right pair of ballet shoes is essential for your comfort and safety on the dance floor.

After all, ballet shoes should be the perfect extension of a dancer’s line and form and so if ballet shoes are not comfortable it will be difficult to perform the moves.

Not all shoes are appropriate for all dancers, therefore the types of shoes suitable depend on the dancer’s experience.

Let’s discuss the 4 types of ballet shoes as well as their pros and cons so you can understand which one is the most suitable for you.

1. Split-Sole


There are two distinct sections to the sole of a pair of spit-sole ballet shoes; the heel and toe pads are made of rough materials for traction.

The midfoot support is inadequate, so the soles are made of cushioning materials to prevent injury to the wearer's feet.

The risk of injury is reduced thanks to the shoe's adaptable design.

In addition to highlighting the arch, the lack of support allows dancers to flex and point their feet.

Students with more training and experience tend to favor this style of shoe.

Ballet dancers can perform more precise footwork and techniques in split-sole ballet shoes, an advantage that is especially noticeable in performance settings such as competitions and practical exams.

When learning new spins and movements, dancers who wear these shoes feel more stable and assured.

Canvas ballet shoes are the standard and the best option for dancers who have already put in several years of training.


  • Enhanced mobility makes it simpler to point your toes.
  • Superior grip in extreme conditions
  • Allow the wearer to feel more connected with the ground, which dancers find useful


  • Less arch support
  • Miserable in the Great Outdoors

2. Demi-Pointe


This pair of ballet flats is soled in leather rather than having a shank.

This construction offers more resistance, which increases the demand placed on the dancer's feet.

There are some arguments among instructors if this type of ballet shoes is even necessary for their students to use.

Some teachers will let their students use this while making the physical adjustment to going en pointe.

Others do not recommend this shoe type for students who do not have sufficient training and experience yet.

New dancers may not know how to properly position their feet or use the correct muscles in their forefeet to perform complex foot works.

Even so, most teachers concur that demi-pointe ballet shoes significantly aid in muscle development, provided the dancer knows which to use and how to properly apply them.

3. Full Sole Ballet Shoes

Full Sole Ballet Shoes

Full sole ballet shoes have the sole (typically made from suede or leather), running the full length of the shoe and are excellent for people who are beginning off in the dance world

Moreover, these force the dancer to utilize the foot and muscles whilst increasing strength through the feet and legs, which assists them to acquire proper methods and retain muscle memory for when you reach a more advanced level.

Occasionally yet, even the most experienced dancers prefer full sole ballet shoes for the increased support.


  • The resistance given assists early dancers to acquire strength
  • Comfortable and adaptable
  • Manipulates the entire length of the foot
  • Lightweight


Not appropriate for advanced dancers

4. Pointe Ballet Shoes

Pointe Ballet Shoes

Pointe ballet shoes are advised to those dancers who execute point work and are generally utilized by highly experienced ballerinas since they provide maximum support to the feet and ankles.

In fact, these shoes are fitted properly to the feet to guarantee all actions are completed on target - literally!

What’s amazing, is these shoes assist dancers to appear weightless on their feet and if you can master balance properly on your toes, your dance will no sure be fascinating.

Even though pointe ballet shoes look dainty, they aren’t - they’re points are built from densely packed layers of material and cardboard hardened by glue to give it that toughness, and the rest of the sure is normally leather, cotton or satin


Excellent support and comfort

Helps with balance


Have to be broken into

Suitable for advanced dancers only


Are Ballet Shoes Supposed To Be Tight?

Yeah - ballet shoes are designed to be tight, but not too tight! Ballerinas need shoes that fit like socks, with very limited room for growth (sorry, mom and dad!). As your dancer develops and utilizes the shoes in class, the leather will expand and mold to their feet, which is why a leather shoe is crucial - synthetic materials will not stretch or give, resulting in you receiving less use out of the shoes!

When you have your dancer fit for ballet shoes, be sure to have them wear tights or a try-on sock, so they know how the shoe will feel on their feet. Kids' toes might hurt in those shoes. Get your dancer acquainted to them by having them wear them around the house a few times before class.

Each brand has various sizing guides, so be sure to either have your dancer fitted at your local dancewear store, or do your due diligence in reviewing the sizing guides online. More often than not, your dancer will not wear their street shoe size in a dance shoe.

How much should Ballet Shoes cost?

You can find a decent pair of ballet flats for between $15 and $40. If you want to get the most out of your ballet shoes, it's important to take good care of them. Canvas shoes are on the cheaper end of the spectrum compared to leather ballet shoes, and when you hit the $40 mark, it's usually because the manufacturer has invested money in developing and using cutting-edge materials, design, and technology.


By understanding the differences between the three styles of ballet shoes, you'll be better equipped to choose the right pair for your dance style and skill level. You should consult your dance instructor if you're still having trouble deciding which ones are best for you.

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