Whether it’s your preschooler who’s beginning to take ballet classes, or you’re starting out yourself as a teen or adult, the number-one item on your shopping list before classes begin should be a pair of beginner ballet shoes. True ballet shoes are completely flat shoes, made from either satin or leather.
Fabric for Ballet Shoes
Satin is a traditional favorite that offers the look which many associate with ballet; however, leather will last longer without becoming tattered looking. Even new satin ballet shoes have a down side: their shiny appearance can make mistakes more obvious. At the same time, some see the down side as a benefit: the “scruffy look” is definitely popular in some corners of the dancing world.
Be sure to try on your new ballet shoes ahead of time and wear them around the house in order to get your feet accustomed to how they feel. Before you wear them to your first class, you’ll also want to get them ready.
Preparing New Ballet Shoes
Maybe you didn’t even know you needed to do this, but you do. While some ballet shoes come with the elastic attached already, most of them do not. You’ll have to sew elastic into your new shoes (or hire someone to do it for you) so that the shoes will stay put when you dance. Elastic pieces are typically included with the shoes, and you should attach them across the top of each shoe, in order to hold it onto your foot. While instructions are usually included when you purchase ballet shoes, here’s a basic rundown:
Step 1: Decide where to place the elastic.
Some prefer to position it straight across the foot, while others prefer a diagonal placement and others still criss-cross two pieces for extra security, comfort, or both. Be sure to use elastic that is wide enough to resist snapping or fraying.
Step 2: Attach the elastic.
The purpose of the elastic is to secure the shoe, making sure it doesn’t come off as you dance; make sure you sew the elastic on so that it’s tight enough to do that but not so tight that it causes discomfort. You may wish to sew the ends of the elastic onto the outside of the shoe, rather than the inside; while your shoes might not appear as “finished,” they won’t be as likely to cause uncomfortable rubbing as you dance.
Step 3: Adjust drawstrings.
Your ballet shoes will also come with drawstring ties on the front, and you’ll need to pull these ties in order to tighten the shoe around your foot. It needs to be pulled tightly enough to eliminate any gaps between your foot and the shoe, and no more. Simply knot the ties and then tie them into a bow. Tuck the tied drawstrings under the front of the shoe, so that they’re no longer visible.