What Is the Difference Between Ballet Slippers and Pointe Shoes?

Ballet|Ballet Shoes

Ballet slippers and pointe shoes are both important pieces of equipment for a dancer. Ballet slippers are lightweight, soft leather shoes with a thin sole, designed to give dancers the flexibility and maneuverability they need to move gracefully across the stage. Pointe shoes, on the other hand, are specifically designed for use in classical ballet and have a stiffer sole that allows dancers to perform en pointe — on their toes — for extended periods of time.

Materials: Ballet slippers are typically made from soft leather or canvas with a thin sole made of either suede or leather. Pointe shoes have a harder shell and box structure that is made from paper-like material such as card or paperboard layered with layers of fabric or ribbon. The inside of the shoe is usually lined with silk and then reinforced further by layers of stiff fabric like burlap or canvas.

Support: Ballet slippers provide minimal support but allow for maximum flexibility. They also provide cushioning to protect the dancer’s foot from impact when landing jumps or other movements.

Pointe shoes are designed to give the dancer maximum support while performing complicated steps on their toes. The stiff box construction helps maintain proper alignment while giving enough flexibility to allow the foot to articulate properly during movement.

Fit: Ballet slippers should fit snugly around the dancer’s foot without any extra room or too tight of a fit that might cause discomfort during movement. The heel should be snugly secured so it does not slip off during performance and the toe area should be left roomy enough for comfortable flexion of the foot during movements. Pointe shoes must fit very precisely, as an ill-fitting shoe can cause injury due to lack of support or incorrect positioning when performing en pointe movements.

Appearance: Ballet slippers typically have either an elastic strap across the front or elastic bands that go around the heel for secure closure; however, some styles may be slip-on instead. Pointe shoes come in various styles and colors but usually feature ribbons that must be tied around the dancer’s ankle for secure closure; they often feature decorative details like ribbons, sequins, and rhinestones which add to their aesthetic appeal onstage.


While both ballet slippers and pointe shoes are essential pieces of equipment used by dancers, they serve different purposes; ballet slippers provide minimal support but allow for maximum flexibility while pointe shoes provide more support while performing complex steps on their toes en pointe. Additionally, ballet slippers typically have an elastic strap or bands for secure closure while pointe shoes usually require ribbons to be tied around the ankle for secure closure; in addition, some styles may also feature decorative details like ribbons, sequins, and rhinestones which add to their aesthetic appeal onstage.