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Ribbons on flat shoes?


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Talk to me about sewing ribbons on ballet slippers/flat shoes --- Who does this? Why? Is there an aethestic reason for it? An educational purpose behind it? A tradition to uphold? A safety issue? Is it just personal preference? Is it a practice that is more or less prevalent at certain ages, or stages of training? Is it a European or Australian thing? Thanks for any insight that will help me to understand.

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Happy, this is a Russian School thing, generally done in Vaganova based schools. I think that it is mainly because they want them to be accustomed to the ribbons long before they get pointe shoes, but I'm not sure if there are other reasons. Could also be for aesthetic reasons, as well as tradition. It's not for safety reasons. It is not usually done in most other schools.

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My own teacher did it with students about six months to a year before they started pointe. She wanted them used to sewing and tying the ribbons before they got the pointe shoes.

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You also see ribbons on flat shoes in dance competitions to finish off the "look" of the costume. I watched some ballet at a competition this week and the ribbons showed up on dancers as young as six. Tutumonkey

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Over here, in the RAD method, we have had to have ribbons on flat shoes for Grade 3 and above ( average age of students approx 8 - 10 years). This was required for the exams. As this level is at least two levels below pointe work ( most students seem to complete Grade 5 then move on to majors and thus pointe work) it is a long time to prepare them for pointe shoes, so perhaps the reason is aesthetics or tradition.


Also, for ballet eisteddfods (competitions) ribbons are almost always worn with tutus for classical sections and sometimes in demi - character sections, even in the six and under sections. Once again, I'm not sure if it aesthetics, tradition, or just generally accepted practice.


Anyway, I have been sewing ribbons on flat shoes for years! (as no 8 year old can possibly sew their own ribbons - some can't even TIE their own ribbons! )

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The RAD have you attach ribbons here for the Grade 4 exam. Then it comes off for crossed elastics for split soled shoes at Grade 6. Char now has three different pairs of ballet shoes - the flats I bought and sewed with ribbons before her dance teacher said she couldn't wear them for the exam (and I asked if they were OK, too!!!), split soled flats with criss cross elastics (supposed to be 'pre-sewn' ...at one end only!) and her pointes, with ribbons and no elastic. Fiz. xxx

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I only know this from RAD (and my school, not RAD). A friend of mine is RAD and she always had to have ribbons on her flats.

My school is more Russian and we used to have them (I did not experience this anymore). My teacher's mother was also a balletteacher and everyone had ribbons. When my teacher got the school, she was annoyed and abolished the ribbons. Especially the smaller children could not tie them properly and the class was always disturbed and interrupted.

No one knows anymore there what the reasons of the ribbons was (it is more than 20 years ago)

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Thanks everyone for weighing in. It would appear to have something to do with education (learn to tie your ribbons) and possibly tradition (they used to do it this way) and costuming (you must match the older girls even though you are not yet en pointe, since you will be dancing in the corps in the recital.) And then, there's always personal preference. I think I understand,now. Thanks

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My teacher makes her students put ribbons on their flat shoes if they are not going on pointe(because they are injured) in a recital. she does this to make us all look equal.

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Guest Arely

I believe that the ribbons are used on flat shoes so that the student can get used to the feeling before using pointe shoes. The ribbons around the ankle can give an awkward feeling when you start using them because they make it harder to do a deep plie.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My teachers wanted us to have some ribbons on our flat shoes. Thet were teaching at the POB school where they are doing that, too. They were saying it was because of both tradition and discipline:

-Tradition because girls have been wearing ribbons forever

-discipline because girls began to sew elastics instead of ribbons at a time where it was thought elastics would be better. The reason for that is that shoes with elastics are easier and faster to be put on than shoes with ribbons.

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  • 2 months later...

my daughter has studied cechetti method since grade 2 and she had to have ribbons on for the exam. I think it is tradition and also experience. She was 7 and soon learned to tie them herself. I think it is used to demonstrate the beginning of serious ballet, the transition from pre ballet training. The tradition stems from when elastic wasn't invented.

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  • 5 weeks later...

My DD studies at two vaganova schools. Ribbons are worn on flats as soon as vaganova level training starts. This is around age 9.

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RAD appears to have required ribbons on flats since their beginning. When I did the RAD grade exams decades ago we wore satin flats with ribbons for exams. We actually wore them year round, we just wore leathers for class but they always had ribbons. I actually was surprised to see shoes minus ribbons when I went back to the ballet studio as an adult. For our major exam work we always wore pointe shoes, dead ones for class work. I never bought flats after I started pointe work. This was when the grade exams required the little tunics to be worn for exams, anyone besides me remember those? It is definately a European tradition, lets face it ballet was born in Europe long before America was founded!

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