Written and Edited By: Lesley Mealor, BPA Dance Performance
Have you ever seen a soccer player wearing basketball shoes? Or a football player wearing ice skates? Probably not! In the dance world, dancers are expected to wear the kind of shoes that correspond to the style of dance they’re taking.
You do need to wear ballet shoes to ballet class most of the time. Occasionally, there are instances where other footwear is acceptable, but the best shoes to wear for ballet class are ballet shoes!
Ballet shoes have unique qualities that make them appropriate for ballet class, just like jazz shoes have specific functions for that style of dance. For more about jazz shoes and why they’re necessary for learning jazz dance, check out our article Can I Wear Ballet Shoes in a Jazz Dance Class?
Why Do I Need To Wear Ballet Shoes To Ballet Class?
Simply put, you need to wear ballet shoes for a ballet class because that’s the rule! But, there is undoubtedly a rhyme and a reason behind this rule – several rhymes and reasons, actually!
1. Slip vs Grip For Ballet Steps
Ballet class includes steps that can only be properly executed while wearing the right shoes. Ballet shoes facilitate the right amount of slip and grip for steps like pirouettes, chassés, and glissades.
Shoes that are too slippery can be dangerous to dance in, while shoes that are too sticky prevent any kind of sliding movement. Ballet shoes provide the perfect balance of each!
2. Line and Appearance
The beautiful lines that ballerinas make with their bodies are created not only by a lot of hard work but also with the help of properly fitting ballet shoes. Ballet, perhaps more than any other style of dance, requires precision, and that extends to appearance!
Shoes that are flopping off of a dancer’s feet don’t look neat and tidy. A beautiful leg line with a dangling sneaker isn’t the look we’re going for, so you should definitely be wearing ballet shoes to help with creating stunning lines.
3. Fit and Function
Ballet shoes fit like a glove, hugging every part of the foot from the arch to the heel. A properly fitting shoe is imperative to performing ballet steps and combinations in class. Dancing in a shoe that doesn’t fit well definitely won’t function well!
Can I Wear Socks Instead of Ballet Shoes to Ballet Class?
Wearing socks to a ballet class is not advisable most of the time unless you are in a real pinch. Socks don’t provide that balance of slip vs grip that is mentioned above. Most of the time, socks are too slippery to function properly and safely in ballet class.
The only exceptions to this rule are the new, specially made socks for dance, such as the Bloch Sox (affiliate link) or the Apolla Shocks. These products are designed with compression as well as specific materials to provide traction when dancing.
You may have seen people taking popular barre fitness classes in socks. It’s important to remember that barre fitness is different than ballet, so their shoe (or non-shoe) choices will also be different!
Barre fitness class participants stay at the barre and the format does not include traveling steps, turning steps, or jumping steps. Therefore, socks created for barre fitness only make sense for barre classes.
Can I Wear Jazz Shoes in a Ballet Class?
If you somehow find yourself in a ballet class without ballet shoes, jazz shoes will be a decent substitute. However, because jazz shoes have a rubber sole and a rubber heel, you may find that you aren’t able to execute some steps properly, so don’t make it a habit!
Can I Wear Ballet Shoes Without Tights?
You can certainly wear ballet shoes without tights if that is more comfortable for you! Tights provide an extra layer of protection for your feet, as well as absorb some of the sweat while dancing.
If you wear ballet shoes without tights, your shoes might get stinkier quicker, so check out these products to keep your slippers in tip-top shape!
Do You Wear Socks With Ballet Shoes?
You can wear socks with ballet shoes, as long as your studio’s dress code allows it. Wearing socks with ballet shoes is fairly common for some children’s programs, while some adults just find it more comfortable. Find out more about the socks vs tights debate here!
If you are trying to get a little more use out of your child’s ballet shoes, you can always have them wear socks when getting fitted. Then, they will have that little bit of extra room to grow into the shoes.
What Color Ballet Shoes Can I Wear?
Ballet shoes come in black, pink, white, and skin tone. Depending on your preference, as well as your studio’s requirements, any of these colors of ballet shoes will suffice for class!
You may choose to go with the traditional pink ballet shoes for female students, but bear in mind that “ballet pink” often doesn’t look like the bright, Barbie pink we might think of! Ballet pink looks a bit more nude or light pink depending on what fabric the shoes are made of.
Black and white ballet shoes are traditionally used for boys, but anything goes as long as your studio allows it!
Skin-tone ballet shoes come in many shades these days, as dance manufacturers are becoming more inclusive with their product lines. You can find skin-tone ballet shoes at Blendz Apparel, as well as larger dance brands like SoDanca and Bloch (affiliate link).
What Are the Best Ballet Shoes For Ballet Class?
The best ballet shoes for ballet class are shoes that fit properly and are made of quality materials. From there, the only other requirement for the shoes is that you love them!
Ballet shoes come in a variety of styles, fabrics, and fits, so make sure to consider all of your options when purchasing ballet shoes. From canvas to leather, pink to white, criss-cross elastic to one strap, there are lots of things to consider.
For more on how to choose the best ballet shoes for ballet class, check out our article Parents Guide To Choosing the Best Shoes For Ballet Class!
What Should I Bring To Ballet Class?
In addition to your ballet shoes, you should always bring comfortable, well-fitting dancewear like a leotard and tights, hair pins and hairspray, any warm-up clothing you like to wear, and water! You don’t need much else to have a great class!
Just like with other activities, there are rules and requirements for ballet class, including shoes. With this helpful information, you can feel confident sending your child to dance class in the correct shoes!