Ballet Slippers with Ribbons

A proper fitting shoe is the most important investment in ballet attire. Please purchase your dance shoes from a reputable dance store. Female Dancers are asked to have ribbons, not elastic on their shoes.  Ballet shoes do not come with ribbons – see below. This may seem inconvenient, but I believe it is the best method for (1) keeping the shoe on & (2) developing the foot properly.

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Ballet shoes do not come with ribbons  

Ribbons can be purchased at the dance store, a fabric or convenience store, or at the studio ($5). It is fine to sew the ribbons on by hand or machine; careful not to catch the string in the stitches.   For youth shoes, 5/8”wide ribbons work best. For teen, adult and/or pointe shoes, 1”wide ribbon is best. The ribbon should wrap around the ankle 2 times, and tie on the inside of the leg, behind the ankle (tibia). Any ribbon is fine, but satin works best. Grosgrain can be too thick to comfortably tuck in.  Don’t forget, satin is on the outside, and you need to singe the ends so it won’t unravel.

How do you know if the shoe fits properly? 

The shoe should fit like a comfortable glove – no pressure on the toes or squeezing at the great toe/bunion. There should not be extra room at the end of the toes. The only exception to this might be for the very youngest dancers, as their feet grow very quickly. Try a plié in 2nd position and a rise in 1stposition. The toes should be flat on the floor and have room to spread. There should not be extra ‘shoe’ around the lesser toes.

Pre-Ballet and Ballet I students may wear shoes with a little growing. The extra 1/4-1/2 inch growing room should be at the big toe not at the outside of the foot, or distal phalanges/toes. The big toe is almost always longer, but if it is the 2nd toe that is longer, one must fit for that toe.

Dancers should feel their toes able to spread out when they rise, or pl (bend their knees). This encourages correct development of the foot not just for dance, but for longevity of feet health.

How to tie the ribbons, this is the same for soft ballet shoes and pointe shoes:

Put the shoe on and adjust the draw string on the ballet slipper so it holds snugly but does not cut into the Achilles tendon. Tie it in a knot and tuck it in. It may be shortened, however, be very careful to leave enough length so it can be loosened and tightened without losing it in the casing.

Place the foot flat on the floor or flex slightly so that the ribbon will not be too tight and bind the Achilles tendon.

Begin with the inside ribbon, and pull it diagonally across the ankle towards the outside of the foot.  Wrap the ribbon firmly around the back of the ankle – do not allow the ribbon to wind high up the leg, keep it directly above the ankle bone. It should go around the ankle twice, ending on the inside of the ankle. There should be about a 3 inch tail left to tie the knot.

Keeping the inside ribbon firmly in place, take the outside ribbon and pull it diagonally across the ankle so that it crosses above the tail on the first wrap. The second wrap of the ribbon should fall below the tail and end on the inside of the ankle.  Tie the two ribbons in a knot, on the inside of the ankle, behind the ankle bone. Tuck the ends of the ribbon and the knot underneath the wrapped ribbons, in the soft spot, behind the ankle bone.