To Full-sole or split-sole, that is the question!

 In Ask The Experts, Informative

Buying your ballet shoes can be an overwhelming task. The range of styles, fabrics, and variations is greater than it has ever been. At Dance 1 we have clear ideas of what we feel works best for our students, so before you pick a pair off a google search, take a minute to read our reasoning and recommendations.


From our very youngest students right through to our intermediate dancers, we recommend full-soled, leather ballet shoes of a reputable, specialist dance brand, such as Bloch or Capezio. Different brands often suit different shaped feet so always be willing to try a few on. By opting for a quality dance brand you will be able to choose from a range of lengths and widths, meaning that your dancer will be able to find the shoe that is the right fit for them. They will come complete with elastics, drawstrings and should stand the test of time. In our experience cheaper generic alternatives are often ill-fitting, and poor quality, potentially inhibiting a dancer from the offset.


Full sole v Split sole

We recommend full-soled ballet shoes for ballet training. In the quest for beautiful lines and strong pointed toes, dancers must learn to manipulate the entire length of their foot. The full-sole sits like a small weight on the foot, creating a resistance against which the dancer has to work. The muscles and tendons on the bottom of the feet therefore get worked, and become betterdeveloped and strengthened with each class.




Spliit-soled shoes, whilst less apt at working the muscles, are often very flattering to the line of the foot. As such, once a dancer reaches advanced levels we recommend switching from the full-sole to the split. We also recommend split-sole for performances, where the aesthetic is the main focus.



Leather v Canvas

Whilst there are pros and cons to both fabrics, we recommend leather for our students. A more substantial material, leather requires the dancer to work harder in using their muscles and tendons to produce beautiful lines. Leather also fits snuggly and has a unique ability to mould itself to the dancers foot, creating a beautiful second skin. For studios such as ours that have floating Russian Birch floors, leather creates the perfect resistance required to remain controlled when dancing.


Canvas shoes are less expensive and easier to wash, however, they are much weaker and command less effort from the dancer’s feet. They can also be slippy on quality wooden dance floors. Lacking the moulding quality of the leather shoe, canvas shoes tend to be slightly bigger than the foot and therefore don’t obtain the same snug appearance.



We hope you’ve found this insight helpful. Our in-studio store stocks everything you’ll need for class and we provide a free fitting service for all dance shoes. Special ordering is available.

Check back for our next blog – “Half measures – Demi or Pointe shoes and what’s the difference?”

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