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What ballet shoes would other parents recommend for a beginner?



I’d really love some suggestions from other dance parents or teachers on their favorite style and brand of ballet slippers for a 5 year old about to start ballet class. It seems there are so many options, and I’d love some opinions from those who have been there. Does it even matter when they are so young?


asked November 10, 2011

4 Answers

I suggest you ask their dance teacher.  Studios often have required colors or styles of shoes.  They also have experience with which shoes work well at different ages and levels.
I like the Sansha girls star ballet slipper.  The split soles make it easier for little feet to point.  The canvas can be tossed in the washing machine if anything happens to them.  Plus, they are inexpensive--great for fast-growing little feet.  The string is elastic so it molds more closely to the foot.  I actually loved the adult version of this shoe when I danced in high school.
My favorite style is the Capezio split sole canvas Juliet model.  My daughter started with full sole leather ballet shoes...she didn't start getting the split soles until she was 8 or 9.  Does the dance teacher have any preferences for style or material?  Some dance schools specifically request leather or canvas, split sole or full sole, so I would check with the teacher first. The main thing is to avoid those "slipper" ballet shoes sold at department stores or Target...the ones that have a stretchy polyester fabric upper and a padded sole.  They can be slippery and difficult to balance in, and are not for ballet class, although they are often labeled as ballet shoes. A pair of real ballet shoes will generally run $15 - $20, so it's better to stick with the real thing. We started out with leather shoes for my daughter.  Teachers usually prefer them to fit tightly, as the leather will stretch with use, and the close fit enables them to see how the children are using their feet.  They like them to fit like a glove, rather than have much room to grow.  Because the leather stretches, I almost always got an entire dance year out of one pair. Another option is canvas shoes.  Canvas is cheaper than leather, but doesn't last as long.  We have also tried the Bloch Elastosplit shoe, which has a separate top (toe) and back (heel) of the shoe, connected by elastic.  The purpose is to better show the arch of the foot.  You wouldn't need this for a 5 year old, but it is something to consider for the future, if she continues to dance. What I would recommend is to first ask the teacher if there is a type of shoe she prefers.  Then I would go to a dance store, and have them try several models and styles on your daughter, and ask her which feels most comfortable to her.  Have her wear her tights or socks (whatever she will be wearing for dance) to try the shoes on with.  If the teacher doesn't require any particular style, I would go with whatever is most comfortable for the child, and best fits your budget.  The most common ballet shoe for a 5 year old would probably be a full soled, pink leather ballet shoe.  Capezio and Bloch are good quality brands to try for a first pair.  Good Luck! :)  

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