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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Leather vs. Canvas slippers?


californiagirl

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My daughter informed me that "almost everyone" at her new school wears canvas slippers instead of the leather ones I've always bought her. I was wondering why? I've never really seen these before, and I guess I've grown up thinking that leather footwear (non-dance anyway) is preferable. Are they somehow better for serious dancers, or is it a personal choice? Do they hold up as well? Are they less expensive?

Of course she wants a pair...

 

Sorry if this is a ridiculous question. I'm not a dancer and I just don't quite understand this.

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They don't hold up as well, but they are less expensive. My DDs feel they show off the arch better than the leather slippers, so, yes, the dancers often prefer them.

 

I've known some teachers who prefer one or the other, but sounds like the canvas isn't a problem for her new school.

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At DD's studio, the canvas shoes became somewhat a rite of passage. The teachers prefer (and if asked, will tell) the younger students to use the leather, full-soled slippers. Their reasoning is that the leather, full-soled slippers require more effort from the foot in pointing, tendus, etc, thereby working to strengthen the feet. The canvas, split-soled shoes conform more to the foot, obviously are softer under the arch, and therefore, don't give the same resistance (i.e., strengthening opportunities) to the developing younger foot.

 

Once the teachers feel the student's foot demonstrated sufficient strength, they are more open and agreeable to the students switching to the canvas, split-soled slippers. Many times, the younger girls see the older girls wearing the canvas shoes, and of course, wanting to be like the big girls, that's what they would get the next time mom went to the store. The teachers don't tell them they can't wear them, but depending on how developed the foot is (or isn't), the teacher may tell them they would prefer a leather shoe for them.

 

The canvas shoes are less expensive and are less durable. They do conform (hug) the arch more, so they do provide a nice look--until they get ratty and dirty, which really doesn't take that long.

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We've noticed that the canvas ones look gross and dirty MUCH quicker and don't last as long. After using canvas because she thought they were cool my 15 yo has switched back to leather.

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as far as the canvas ones get dirty and gross.... I have successfully washed them in the washing machine, several times. As long as you don't over dry them, this can work quite well. :D

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My dd has been wearing the Bloch neo-hybrid, which is leather in the front, and neoprene in the back. It's a split sole shoe, looks great on her particular very narrow feet, and fits her well, and breathes more like a canvas slipper than a full leather slipper does. We haven't yet found a canvas slipper that is carried in our small local dancewear store that fits her well. The neo-hybrid has been the best of both worlds for her, and it's durable, and doesn't get the dirty/ratty look mentioned above that the canvas shoes get.

 

 

Californiagirl - like dancemaven mentioned, my dd wasn't allowed to get split soled shoes until her teacher O.K.'d them for her. They prefer the kids use the full leather soled slippers until their foot becomes stronger and better articulated. You might want to ask her teacher if it's O.K. for your dd to get the split soles before you spend money on them. :D

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She's in split sole shoes at the moment, they're just leather ones. I think they look nice, but it's also what I'm used to. The girls she's noticing with the canvas shoes are in her class, so they're not older, but we've only been at this school about 6 weeks, at her old school everybody wore leather.

 

So, is it that the canvas slippers are easier to dance in because the leather is stiffer than the canvas? Is it better if the foot isn't working as hard or will the muscles get weaker? (Sorry, still confused...)

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This thread caught my eye, and and the risk of being smacked down for not being a parent of a child under 13, I wanted to say...LEATHER!

Leather conforms much better to a dancer's unique foot shape, because it stretches. I have never been happy with canvas shoes for this reason, they just don't "fit like a glove," a leather glove, that is.

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I think a lot of girls go through a time when they think the canvas shoe is "cool". A new pair of well fitting shoes will show off the point no matter what the material. It's what looks good after three weeks that matters.

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We found the same thing when we moved to a new studio. Everyone at the old studio wore leather. All the girls at the new studio have canvas. DD actually had to try a leather pair on for size today and she grimaced. :shrug: While leather stretches to get 'that' fit, canvas shrinks - not only when washed (watch they can shrink alot if you machine dry them) but from the dancer's sweat.

 

I have had an instructor explain it to me as this - the leather may fit like a glove but the canvas fits like a favorite pair of jeans. How could I argue with that?

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My DD prefers the supportive feel of leather. She had to be approved for split sole slippers years ago and has had both leather split sole and canvas split sole.

 

She has literally torn through canvas slippers so quickly that she was frustrated about having to work in a new pair frequently. The random pair that will occasionally last longer just ends up disgusting with dirt and sweat. We attempted to wash them and she didn't like the fact that the insole then felt ripply after it was air-dried.

 

I think the key is always a proper fit - as LauraGG pointed out - regardless of material. Aside from the variety of warm-up attire (though my DD only uses a classic black, tried and true wrap sweater only when necessary) ballet slippers are also often chosen based upon whatever the current "trend" is unless the school specifically states what is required (usually for performances and preferences for the youngest students).

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Students at my school wear satin shoes (with full sole). I don't know if leather shoes in the US are very different but the ones you get here are dull in colour and mark quickly, once they have a scratch or scape the surface off (just from going into a kneel for example) you can't fix them. Satin shoes can be washed with care and come clean again.

 

I personally prefer canvas shoes and teach in them most of the time but the RAD doesn't permit split soles for the lower grades and for vocational exams children must wear satin so we just stick with satin throughout. The older girls are allowed canvas in their classes but know they must have satin for exams, shows etc.

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my daughter went through the "rite of passage" full sole leather to split sole leather to canvas...and she does wear the canvas in class because it is uniform...however in her day classes, when uniform is not enforced, she prefers to wear a full sole leather- because she said it makes her feet work harder...just my 2 cents...for that is worth.

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So... it sounds to me that as long as it is okay with the teacher, it's really a matter of personal preference. I suppose I could let her try a pair and see what she thinks (and how long they last, and how dirty they get!) and that's probably the only way we'll ever know for sure. I was just wondering if there was any reason other than that. It sounds like there are a variety of opinions out there! :shrug:

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