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6 Reasons Why Dance & Ballet Shoes Wear Out Quickly & What To Do About It!

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Written and Edited By: Lesley Mealor, BPA Dance Performance

Dancers put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into their art, and the same goes for their shoes! Ballet and dance shoes can wear out pretty quickly for a few reasons, and dancers and parents are always looking for ways to prolong the life of their shoes.

Poor quality materials, overuse, growth spurts, and mistreatment are just a few of the reasons that dance and ballet shoes wear out fast! In order to get the most use out of your dance shoes, follow our tips and tricks!

A pile of used pointe shoes sits on the floor next to a dancer's legs on pointe

While it’s not the end of the world to take a couple of ballet classes in holey shoes, there will come a time when they are simply unusable! Be prepared beforehand by checking out our helpful article How Long Do Dance Shoes Last, and in the meantime, keep reading to find out why dance shoes wear out so quickly in the first place!

Why Do Dance and Ballet Shoes Wear Out Quickly?

Dance and Ballet shoes wear out quickly for 6 main reasons which I explain in detail below. It is totally normal for some dance shoes to not last through a whole dance season, but with care and our tips you can help to extend their life.

1. What Type of Materials Are Your Shoes Made Of?

Three kinds of dance shoes - from left to right, pink canvas ballet shoes, pink satin pointe shoes, pink leather ballet shoes.

Dance shoes are made of all kinds of materials from canvas, to leather, to synthetic materials. The stronger the material, the longer the dance shoes should last.

For example, a leather ballet shoe, worn by a dancer whose feet have stopped growing, can last for well over a year. Some ballet dancers are known to hold onto their favorite pair of perfectly broken-in ballet shoes for many years!

On the other hand, a canvas shoe worn by the same dancer might fall apart much quicker because canvas simply deteriorates at a much faster rate.

What to do about It?

Pro Dance Parent Tips To Fix Dance Shoe Materials:

  • If your dancer’s shoes are made of canvas, an easy fix is to darn the holes in the shoes.
  • If the shoes are made of soft leather, you can use athletic tape ( link) in a pinch to fix a hole. Typically, it’s challenging to sew through leather, so darning the holes in leather shoes isn’t recommended.
A blue and orange bottle of super glue with a bit of glue coming out sits in front of a blue background
  • Character shoes and tap shoes whose soles have come loose can be given a bit more life with a strong glue like Gorilla Glue or super glue. Be careful not to get it on your fingers, because these types of adhesives dry very quickly and take a lot of effort to get off.

2. What Is the Quality of the Shoe?

Quality construction plays a big role in how long dance shoes will last. A bargain basement shoe won’t last as long as dance shoes from a reputable, dance-focused brand.

When you choose dance shoes, don’t be tempted to shop at non-specialty “big box” stores. Constructing dance shoes is an art, and the companies that do it the best are ones that specialize in the particular needs of dancers.

For tips on how to choose the best quality dance shoes that will last, visit our article “The Ultimate Guide For Choosing The Right Shoes For Dance Lessons“!

What to do about It?

Pro Dance Parent Tips For Finding Quality Dance Shoes:

Reputable dance stores will stock dance brands like Capezio, Bloch, Russian Pointe, Energetiks, Gaynor Minden, Grishko, Nikolay, Sansha, MDM, and SoDanca.

Find your local dance shop, or visit the websites of these brands to find the best quality shoes for your budding ballerina, tiny tapper, or jumping jazzer!

3. How Often Are the Dance Shoes Being Worn?

Dancers who wear their shoes several days a week will have to purchase new shoes more often than dancers who only wear them for one class per week.

You will find that sturdier shoes like tap shoes actually benefit from being worn more often. Breaking in a pair of quality tap shoes takes time, but it’s kind of a Catch-22! The more you wear tap shoes, the more comfortable they become, but at the same time, they will last longer if you wear them less frequently.

What to do about It?

Pro Dance Parent Tips For Shoes That Die Quickly Because of Overuse:

If you can swing it financially, purchasing a second, identical pair of dance shoes for your child might be a good way to lessen the wear and tear.

By having a performance pair and a practice pair of dance shoes, your dancer can show up looking their best at recitals, competitions, and performances!

4. What Surface is the Dancer Dancing On?

Dance shoes will last longer if they are used on the proper dance flooring. At your dance studio, you likely have hardwood floors, Marley (a type of specialized dance floor covering), or a laminate floor, so keeping your shoes in good shape while at the studio shouldn’t be too hard.

Some dance shoes can be used with caution on concrete, dirt, or grass.

Hip hop sneakers, for example, are built of materials similar to regular sneakers and can be used on multiple surfaces. Be sure to clean the sols of hip hop shoes before you wear them in a studio after wearing them outside.

Hard-soled character shoes and tap shoes can also be worn with caution on surfaces like concrete. Just be aware that the rough surface will scratch the soles of your shoes.

However, this might actually be helpful considering many hard-soled character shoes and tap shoes are very slippery!

For more on this topic, check out our article Why You Should Never Wear Your Ballet Shoes Outside!

What to do about It?

Pro Dance Parent Tips For Flooring Surfaces Vs Dance Shoes.

The following is a handy reference to use and follow!

A chart listing types of flooring with photos of the type of shoes that can be worn on those surfaces.

5. Is Your Dancer Still Growing?

One of the main factors to consider when thinking about how long dance shoes will last is whether the dancer is still growing. If your dancing darling is eating their vegetables, chances are they will go through a growth spurt (or a few!) during their childhood.

If your child’s dance shoes are too small, they will surely be complaining about how uncomfortable they are in class. Keep an eye on shoes like ballet and jazz shoes for holes, or busted seams, two signs that the shoes are becoming too tight.

What to do about It?

Pro Dance Parent Tips For Growing Dancers:

Most dance shoes can safely be purchased a half size bigger to accommodate for growing room. Any larger than a half a size will lead to trips, falls, and shoes coming off mid-dance step.

At the fitting, your dancer can wear thicker socks and continue to wear them in class. One of the benefits of wearing thicker socks is that the added pressure will stretch the shoes a bit as well.

When wearing socks with dance shoes becomes uncomfortable, switch to bare feet or tights under the dance shoes. The half-size bigger plus socks tip will buy you (hopefully!) an extra few months before having to purchase a new pair.

For more information about buying and sizing shoes check out our article How to Measure, Fit & Buy Ballet Shoes for Toddlers & Kids: Complete Guide

6. How Are the Shoes Being Treated?

Finally, dance shoes that are treated well in between classes will last much longer than shoes that are neglected. Treating dance shoes well means storing them properly, giving them some air, and keeping them out of harm’s way (I’m looking at you, Fido!)

What to do about It?

Pro Dance Parent Tips For Helping Your Dancer Treat Their Shoes Well:

The following products are affiliate links to some products that may help your dance shoes last longer!

For ballet and jazz shoes, you can purchase bamboo charcoal air purifying bags like these to wick away moisture from shoes.

Pointe shoes are expensive, and with the right treatment, can stay usable for longer. Consider a mesh bag by Bloch that allow the shoes to breathe.

Tap shoes and hip hop sneakers could benefit from deodorizing spray, sneaker balls, or deodorizing powder.

Finally, all dance shoes appreciate a little breathing room. Instead of keeping your dance shoes in a hot, stinky bag in between classes, consider opening the snaps or zippers to give them some fresh air! For some of our favourite dance bags, check out our dance bag resource here!

Even though most dance shoes won’t last forever, with these tips and tricks, you can keep your child’s shoes nicer and usable for a little longer! And when it’s time to buy new ones, head over to our helpful guide to ensure you make the right choices!

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