Preparing Ballet Slippers for their First Class
By Christine Mashburn-Paul
It seems so simple, they are little leather slippers with a draw string. But believe it or not, poorly fitting slippers can easily become a distraction in class, not to mention cause pain for your little ballet dancer. If a dancer’s feet are hurting, they won’t be able to dance to their potential. So, I’ve compiled a quick list of “dos” and “don’ts” for fitting your child’s ballet slippers….
First, the ‘dos’….
- Do make sure that your child’s shoes are fitted, but not too tight. Ballet slippers ideally fit like a pair of socks. There shouldn’t be extra fabric around the foot. If your child is growing quickly it is understandable to buy a half size larger so that you aren’t buying new shoes every four months, but make sure they don’t look like clown shoes!
- Do write your child’s name in their shoes. There are a lot of dance shoes that look alike.
- If the elastics aren’t pre-sewn onto the slipper, do make sure the elastics are far enough back that they will hold the heel of the shoe. It is incredibly hard to dance when your shoes keep falling off!
- Do tie a knot (those bows always come out) in the drawstring without pulling on it tight around the foot.
- Do cut the drawstring so that there are only half inch tails. No tying and retying. These shoes should be able to easy slip on and off before and after every class.
- Do tuck the drawstring into the shoe. Hide those tails so that you have a clean looking shoe!
Now, the ‘donts’…
- Don’t pull on that elastic drawstring! When you pull on the elastic drawstring it tightens the elastic all the way around the foot and can put pressure on the Achilles tendon. This can cut off circulation to the foot and cause a lot of discomfort and pain for your little dancer.
- Don’t tie the draw string in a bow. Those drawstrings are notorious for coming undone in the middle of class. Many young ones don’t know how to tie it back and if they do, they end up taking a lot of time to do so. The teacher will often end up having to stop class to retie it or knot and cut it. This can be time consuming when you’ve got 12 kids in class!
- Don’t let your child’s shoes get too small. I know things can get really busy for moms. I’m a mom who works full time to run a business, believe me, I know! But a child wearing shoes that are too small can really injure their feet in the long run. Make sure to take the time to purchase some new shoes as soon as your child says they are feeling tight!
- Don’t let your child wear ballet slippers (or any dance shoes that she is wearing in the studio) outside. It’s important to keep those shoes clean and you want them to last as long as possible.
If you have any other questions about your dancer’s shoes you should speak with your child’s teacher. They know that not everyone has worn ballet slippers and they are always there to help!