Choosing the right ballet shoes is an important decision, whether you are a beginner or advanced dancer. Ballet shoes are a key component to the art of dance, and can affect your technique and your performance. Every dancer’s feet are different, which is why there are several factors to consider when buying ballet shoes. Below are the three major factors to consider when you buy ballet shoes.

Level of Expertise

If you are looking to buy your first pair of ballet shoes or looking for a better ballet shoe, it is important to consider your level of dance expertise. Depending on whether you are a beginner, an intermediate level dancer, or an advanced or professional dancer, the type of ballet shoes you buy are important to your technique.

Beginner
If you are just starting dance classes, you may be more interested in a basic shoe that has a little more support to help you as you learn proper technique and become stronger. This is especially true for toddlers and kids who are just beginning dance lessons. You want to make sure that the shoe sole has one piece of leather along the length of the bottom of the shoe. This will help in supporting the arch of your foot as you learn proper standing positions, tendus and plies. Beginner ballet shoes are made with slightly thicker leather to help hug the foot as you learn the technique of ballet.

Intermediate
For dancers who have had a good amount of training and dance a few times a week, you can opt for a softer ballet shoe that allows you to rely more on your foot strength than the support of the shoe. Because your arch will be stronger, you can purchase ballet shoes that have a split sole. The split sole is where the leather bottom of the shoe is split into two areas for the heel and ball of the foot where your foot needs the most traction against the floor. Having no leather across your arch allows you to create a much cleaner line through your pointed toe. If you begin to feel frustrated that you are pointing your toes as hard as possible and the line of your leg seems interrupted by your shoe sliding forward beyond your toes, you may be ready for a softer split sole ballet shoe.

Advanced/Professional
If you are an advanced or professional dancer, you are likely very comfortable with choosing your preferred ballet shoes. Your shoes will likely wear out very often as you may dance several hours a day, several times a week. A shoe that can both allow you to perform at your best and last a while is most ideal. If you dance en pointe, a good pointe ballet shoe is crucial to your performance. (Caution: Pointe ballet shoes are only meant for the most advanced dancers that have proven their strength to a teacher who has recommended them to this level of ballet technique.) Pointe ballet shoes come in several styles and shapes, and your level of strength also depends on the type of shoe you will shoes. Some pointe shoes have wider boxes at the tip for those just beginning pointe to better help steady them while dancing. Others have a smaller box for more advanced professionals, which creates a beautiful long line through the leg.

Fit/Size

Fit is probably the next most important factor when choosing to buy a ballet shoe. For a proper fit, you want to make sure the ballet shoe is snug so that it conforms for your foot, but not so tight that your toes are jammed. A good way to tell is to try on a shoe closest to your regular street shoe size and stand in first position on a hard floor. Tighten the strings just enough so that the shoe catches around your heel snugly, but not too tight. Your toes should be flat on the floor and not curling up into the shoe. Then, rise into a releve to ensure the heel stays on tight without slipping off or feeling like the string is butting into your achilles tendon. If the shoe feels too loose or too tight, try on a size smaller or larger until you feel you have the right fit. As long as your street shoe size doesn’t change too much, your ballet shoe size shouldn’t either.

Keep in mind that as you dance, the leather of the shoe will conform to your foot and will wear out over time and become loose. Depending on how often you dance, you will need to replace your shoes periodically so that you can maintain your level of technique without worrying if your shoes are too loose or if the sole loses traction. The worst feeling when dancing is worrying about losing your balance or slipping on the floor as you perform. That’s why it is important to choose not only a proper-fitting shoe, but also replace the shoes as often as you need to depending on how often you are dancing.

Brand

The reputation of the brand of ballet shoes can make a difference when you choose a ballet shoe to buy. There are several brands to choose from, but ultimately the one you pick will be up to you as each can differ in fit, type and price. If you are a beginner or intermediate, you may try several brands of shoes before you become comfortable with the fit and feel of a particular brand. You will likely grow a preference to a brand and buy ballet shoes from that brand over and over again. The less you have to think about your shoe fit, the better ballet technique you will have and the better your confidence will be during performances.

The most popular student brand of dance shoes is Capezio. They offer a wide range of ballet shoes for all levels of ballet dancers. They are most often found in your local dancewear store. Capezio is a fantastic brand of ballet shoes for toddlers and ballet shoes for kids. Their ballet shoes for toddlers come in various colors (pink, white and black) and even come with a tag to personalize your child’s ballet shoe as these come on and off before and after dance classes and could easily be lost or confused with another child’s ballet shoes. Capezio is well-known within the dance community and trusted for its innovation and variety of dance shoes.

As you shop for ballet shoes, be sure to consider the above three factors when choosing which ballet shoe to buy. It will make a big difference in your technique and performance, as you or your little girl blossom into a beautiful ballet dancer.