Good ballet shoes are one thing that every ballet dancer must have and cannot skip out on buying. As a result, “How much are ballet shoes?” is a very common question that both young and adult beginners have asked us.
These frilly, flimsy-looking shoes protect the feet and allow ballerinas and danseurs to perform special moves like en pointe. Without good shoes, these moves wouldn’t have been possible without extreme pain or the risk of getting a serious foot injury.
This guide will give you a run-down on the costs of getting new ballet shoes. We’ll also give you a few tips on how to pick up a good pair when you go out to shop!
- How Much Are Ballet Shoes?
- What Affects Ballet Shoes’ Price
- Shoe Cost For Beginner And Professional Ballet Dancers
- Tips When Buying Ballet Shoes
- Final Words
How Much Are Ballet Shoes?
Let’s get right down to it. The short answer is: it depends. Different brands and models will come with different price tags.
Most beginners will start with a simple pair of ballet flats. They have fairly simple construction, so they tend to be very cheap. As a matter of fact, among all of the footwear that is used in ballet, ballet flats are the cheapest.
Since you’re not expected to perform highly technical moves like en pointe just yet, these shoes are sufficient. Other than beginners, male ballet dancers will also opt to wear these.
Once you have gained enough skill and experience, you will “graduate” from ballet flats to pointe shoes. These shoes are silky-looking shoes with ribbons that you see professional ballet dancers wear while they are on stage.
On average, a decent-quality pair will run you around $45. If you buy from reputable, high-quality brands like Bloch and Grishko, you may have to spend from $65 to $125 per pair.
That’s not all, though. You will need to buy a shoe-care kit besides the shoes themselves. The kit includes ribbons, elastic bands, a sewing kit, and extra toe pads. All of which should cost you around $20 extra.
Because ballet pointe shoes need to fit the feet of the dancer perfectly, many professional ballerinas choose to have their shoes tailor-made. But you don’t have to be a pro-level dancer to use shoe-tailoring services. Getting a custom pair is quite cheap. You only have to pay about $25 extra for the retail cost of the shoes.
So, to answer your question “Are ballet shoes expensive?” … you will spend about $150 for a good pair of pointe shoes.
What Affects Ballet Shoes’ Price
Not every ballet shoe is made equal. Some are more expensive than others, as you can see above … and not without a good reason! Various factors contribute to the final price of the pair of shoes you see on the shelves.
Materials of ballet shoes
Ballet shoes (flats and pointe shoes) can be made from canvas, leather, and satin.
Canvas ballet shoes are the easiest to maintain. Once they get dirty, you can throw them into the washing machine, hang them out to dry, and wear them again. Canvas shoes are also cheap and hug the outline of the feet nicely, making them great for beginners.
However, compared to leather or satin shoes, they are very flimsy. If you use them frequently, a pair of canvas ballet shoes will become worn out in weeks.
Leather shoes are more durable, and their hardness can strengthen the muscles of the wearer’s feet. Once again, that makes it a great candidate for practice or training shoes.
They’re more expensive than canvas shoes, but since they last longer, you’ll save more money buying leather instead of canvas.
The key disadvantage of leather ballet shoes is that they’re very stiff and uncomfortable. The leather has to be broken in before the shoes start to feel nice to wear.
Satin is the classic material for pointe shoes and is the most attractive-looking out of the bunch. Satin ballet shoes are reserved only for special occasions, like performances.
Most satin ballet shoes will be in the color pink. But depending on the theme of the performance, you can also get them in different colors and patterns.
And traditionally, only female dancers (ballerinas) wear satin.
Custom-made or ready-to-wear shoes?
It’s crucial that the shoes fit the dancers’ feet snugly. If they don’t, they can result in injuries. A pair of ballet shoes that are too loose can cause chafing. If they’re too tight, they can cause discomfort and affect the quality of the performance.
And many ballet dancers have found out the hard way that ready-to-wear shoes don’t always work with their feet. That’s why many dancers (and virtually all pro-level ballet dancers) have opted to wear custom-made shoes, instead.
The shoemaker takes measurements of their feet dimensions and fixes up the shoes accordingly. That way, the fit will always be perfect.
And it’s usually not at all expensive to get a custom-made pair! They usually cost an extra $25 or so compared to ready-to-wear shoes.
Ballet slippers or pointe shoes
Ballet slippers are simpler in design, and they’re mostly for beginners. So they understandably come quite cheap.
Pointe shoes are where things get expensive. Because they are made for high-level and professional ballet dancers, their constructions and overall quality must be better. It’s not uncommon for pointe shoes to be partly handcrafted, which only drives up the cost further.
Types of ballet shoes
There are four main kinds of ballet shoes. In this list, we arranged the four types in order of the necessary skill levels to wear them. New learners will start with full soles, then, once they have become proficient, they will graduate to wearing pointe shoes.
- Full sole
Full-sole ballet shoes are perfect (and even mandated) for beginners. They come with a full leather sole, which provides the wearer with extra stability and support. Young dancers or adult beginners may not yet have muscle memory or good form, and these shoes are built specifically to help them learn and protect them from injuries.
The full-length leather sole provides more traction with the floor. Besides giving the wearers a better sense of the floor underfoot, the extra traction will protect wearers from slipping.
Full-sole beginner ballet shoes also provide great support for the arch of the feet, helping to strengthen the instep of the wearer.
For all these reasons, full-sole ballet shoes are worn by beginners and young dancers from six to seven years of age. In other words, beginners whose skills aren’t strong enough to wear slipperier split-sole shoes yet.
- Split sole
The soles of this kind of shoe are split into two distinct parts: the heel and the toes. The split soles are made from soft material for support and protection, but the center of the shoes lacks any sole material.
This design makes the shoes super flexible. With the center portion of the soles gone, the wearer can flex the arch of their feet more efficiently, resulting in cleaner footwork. The extra flexibility is also useful for performing tricky, technically-demanding moves.
Split soles shoes are only worn by intermediate to experienced dancers because they lack support for the feet.
Demi-pointe shoes are quite controversial among ballet dance teachers. Instead of having a shank, this type of ballet shoe has a full leather outsole. As a result, when dragged across the floor, resistance can be very high.
That may sound like a bad thing, but for some instructors, it’s not. To dance effectively in demi-pointe shoes, your muscles need to be very strong to overcome the resistance of the leather outsole. By practicing with this kind of shoe for long periods, the muscles will naturally strengthen.
For this reason, before ballet dancers can transition to pointe shoes, they’re often asked to try on these shoes first.
Demi-pointes aren’t recommended for inexperienced users.
- Pointe shoes
Pointe shoes come with a shank to support the dancer’s feet and ankles while performing en pointe. Thanks to these shoes, the dancers look like they’re weightless when they waltz around the stage.
These professional ballet shoes are built very toughly despite their flimsy appearance. A toe box is fitted inside the shoes, typically made from cardboard or fabric, then hardened with glue. The toe box protects the wearer’s toes while they’re dancing on them. During an en pointe move, the toe box will bear the full weight of the ballet dancer’s body.
Branding is also an important factor here. If you buy from brands with glowing reputations and long, storied history like Bloch or Freed of London, the pricing will be high.
But considering ballet shoes – especially pointe shoes – have relatively short lifespans, buying expensive shoes may not always be doable for many people. Don’t worry. There are many brands out there that sell high-quality shoes at more affordable prices, too. A good example is Stelle!
Shoe Cost For Beginner And Professional Ballet Dancers
On average, a decent pair of ballet shoes will last anywhere from 10 to 15 hours of continuous dancing. Yes, that’s not a whole lot. Professional dancers can burn through a pair of pointe in only a few days.
That’s why, for them, buying new shoes every month can be an expensive affair. Other than continuously replacing the shoes because they wear out so quickly, pro-level dancers must also buy the best quality shoes. If not, the quality of their performances could be affected. That only drives up the bill further.
On average, if you’re dreaming of going pro someday, be prepared to spend north of $100 a month on shoes alone.
Fortunately, shoes usually aren’t too much of an issue for beginners or hobbyists. A good pair of ballet shoes can last a few months if you only log an hour or so of dancing a week. Additionally, this group of dancers doesn’t need to buy top-quality dancing shoes. Instead, cheaper shoes made from canvas from budget brands are okay to wear.
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Tips When Buying Ballet Shoes
Ballet shoes aren’t just performance gears, they’re also protective gears. So, picking up the pair that perfectly suits you is important.
Here are a few tips that you should heed when you go out shopping.
Must be well-fitted
As we have mentioned several times in this article, it’s important that your ballet shoes perfectly fit the shape and size of your feet. Never go above or below your size.
If your shoes are too big, your toes will jam into the point of the shoes and cause imbalance. Your feet will also shift around inside the shoes, which can cause chafing.
And of course, when the shoes are too tight, they will be extremely uncomfortable to wear. The shoes can compress against your joints, causing pain. It’s not uncommon for ballet dancers to have their Achilles tendons inflamed due to a pair of poorly-fitted ballet shoes.
Choose the suitable sole
There are two kinds of soles: full soles and split soles.
Full sole shoes provide more support and are popular among beginners and young dancers who have just begun their journey with ballet. They make for excellent training shoes.
Once you have gained enough experience and are more comfortable with your stance and posture, you can begin to wear split-sole shoes. This type doesn’t provide as much support, but they are extremely flexible in return.
The greater flexibility allows the wearer to execute tricky maneuvers and smoothen out their movements, giving them the graceful and airy flair that every professional ballet dancer has while on the stage.
Choose shoes with elastics
Elastics are an accessory you will need to secure the ballet shoes onto your feet. Some manufacturers sell their shoes without elastics. This isn’t because of malice. Some ballet dancers prefer to sew elastics onto the shoes themselves at spots where they’re most comfortable.
However, some dancers still like to have their elastics pre-sewn. If you’re part of this group, check the shoes’ description carefully before you place an order.
Get assistance from professional fitters
If this is your first pair of ballet shoes or you can’t find a ready-to-wear pair that fits you well, then consult a professional fitter. They can measure and tailor the shoes exactly to the shape and size of your feet, ensuring that the shoes fit perfectly.
Choose reputable sellers
It can be tempting to go for no-name brands. They typically offer seemingly beautiful ballet shoes at a fraction of the prices asked by reputable names. But we don’t recommend doing this at all.
No-name brands may make compromises in the design, and you can buy a poorly-built pair without knowing. This may result in unnecessary injuries.
Instead, always buy from reputable sellers. We recommend shopping at famous ballet leotard brands like Bloch and Grishko. They have been on the market for a long time, and their products’ quality has always been high.
Try moving in the shoes
The best way to know whether a pair of ballet shoes is a good fit for you is to walk and dance around in them. Try them on (preferably in the shop) and take a walk. You can even perform some short, basic routines to check the fit and comfort.
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1. What are pointe shoes made of?
Pointe shoes are usually made from satin. The toe box is made from several layers of cardboard and hardened with glue.
2. Why are pointe shoes so expensive?
The biggest reason is that pointe shoes (at least the high-quality ones) are all at least partially handmade. Very high-quality ones can be 100% handmade and fitted specifically to the feet of the wearer.
3. Do male ballet dancers wear pointe shoes?
The short answer is yes, but rarely. Pointe shoes are almost worn exclusively by ballerinas. There aren’t many en pointe moves for male parts. But these days, more and more male dancers are wearing pointe shoes as the modern ballet repertoires grow and the industry’s culture changes toward being as inclusive as possible.
Now that you know how much ballet shoes are, you can start to shop around with more ease. Admittedly, they’re quite expensive. Plus, considering how they can wear out very quickly, budgeting for new shoes every month can be tough.
But that’s just one of the many sacrifices that you have to make if you want to pursue this wonderful sport. Good luck!