A ballet shoe, or ballet slipper, is the traditional style of shoe since Marie-Anne de Cupis de Camargo first wore them in he mid-18th century for the Paris Opera Ballet. (Before Carmago, dancers wore shoes with heels.) Aspiring ballet dancers have been developing their skills in ballet slippers, and though they are based on the original French ballet slipper design, modern ballet shoes have come a long way in the last 300 years.
Ballet slippers are often worn at the beginning of a ballet class by all dancers. Female dancers may change into pointe shoes for centre work and performance.
Ballet Shoe Construction
Crafted from from soft leather, canvas, or satin, ballet shoes have flexible, thin soles. Ballet shoes tend to have a leather sole, that doesn't reach all the way to the edges of the shoe.
TIP: Regular shoe stores may offer a product that may look like ballet slippers but cost a little less. These shoes are often made with cheap materials. Buying real ballet shoes is not only more comfortable for dancers feet because of quality materials and design, real dance shoes also save money because they last a lot longer.
Leather ballet shoes are more durable and last longer. Canvas shoes are more affordable but will wear out faster than leather.
The Colours of Ballet Slippers
Traditionally, girls/women wear pink shoes and boys/men wear white or black shoes. Beige ballet slippers can give the appearance of dancing barefoot, and started to appear later in modern ballets worn by both sexes. That said, we think you should choose to wear whatever colour of ballet slippers you prefer regardless of gender (provided that they follow your dance school's dress codes if you wear them for class). Dance is about self-expression!
The Split-Sole Ballet Shoe
The split-sole ballet shoe is a modern innovation which provides greater flexibility and emphasizes the shape of the foot when pointed. Split-sole ballet shoes are usually made from soft leather, canvas or satin.