The shoes of a ballet dancer play an integral role in their craft. Properly-fitted and well-maintained shoes are essential for a dancer’s ability to move gracefully and safely. Ballet shoes come in many styles, with the key difference between them being their sole.
Soft ballet shoes have leather or canvas soles that allow dancers to spin and move with ease, while hard ballet shoes have leather or rubber soles that provide greater stability.
Soft ballet shoes, often referred to as slippers, are the most common type of shoe worn by dancers. The soft leather or canvas sole allows for flexibility and control in the dancer’s movements.
These types of shoes also help protect the feet from injury due to the lack of support provided by them. Many dancers will use soft slippers when dancing en pointe (on their toes) as they provide more cushioning and support than hard soled shoes.
Hard ballet shoes, also known as ‘character’ or ‘characteristic’ shoes, have a thicker leather or rubber sole and are designed for more complex movements such as turning and jumping. The thicker sole provides more stability than soft soled shoes, allowing the dancer to perform these movements with greater confidence. Hard character shoes are usually worn when performing folkloric or national dances such as the paso doble or flamenco.
Ballet shoe accessories can also be used to customize each pair of shoes for a particular performance or rehearsal. Dancers can purchase ribbons that can be tied around the ankle for additional support, toe pads for extra cushioning on pointe, protective gels to help reduce shock on hard floors, and gel toe caps for protection against painful blisters.
In conclusion, the type of shoe worn by a ballet dancer depends on what movement they are performing. Soft slippers are usually worn when dancing en pointe while hard character shoes are used when performing more complex steps such as turning and jumping. Additionally, ballet shoe accessories can be used to customize each pair of shoe depending on the performance requirement.