On tools of the trade: ballet today: the ballet slipper, the soft shoe, or just simply: the ballet shoe.

Made from canvas, with a leather sole, it is really not to much to say about this shoe. Yet it’s the most basic (next to the dancebelt for men, and the woman’s leotards), must-have accessory for any ballet dancer, male as female.


A basic, black ballet slipper

Unlike the Pointe shoe, the soft shoe does not serve any higher purpose, other than providing grip, yet maintaining the feel of the floor beneath the foot, as if he or she who is wearing it has no shoes at all. It normally has a rubber band along the linings to provide a better fit, and rubber bands on the heel, keeping the rear of the shoe to slip off the heal in turns.

There are two main versions, the full-, and the split-sole shoe. The split sole provides more flexibility, and is preferred by most advanced dancers, the full sole on the other hand needs more force to be pointed, and is most commonly used by young dancers still improving strength in their feet.

The shoe is a true all-rounder, and is preferred to almost any dance inside the ballet genre (except for when the women is en pointe), for practice as well as performances. It’s used in many other types of dance as well, and also used by some gymnasts for it’s good fit.

There are a dwell of brands to choose from, but to tell you the truth: none of them is going to make you turn more, or jump higher. Dancers usually pick a brand based on comfort of the fit, and how it is flattering the esthetics of their instep. More on those weird (anyone said fetish?) esthetics of ours later in Tights and Tiaras.

Keep an eye out for more tools of the trade, explaining all the crazy things one encounters in everyday life as dancers.

Hint: Find the other posts in the different columns run here at Tights and Tiaras! See the “Column” section up in the main menu? Hover your mouse over it, and see what happens! I love technology!


Picture taken from balletformen.com, a great site by the way!!