To non-ballet dancers or aficionados, there is no difference to ballet shoes (slippers) to pointe shoes. But to those in the know, there is a world of difference between these two kinds of shoes, though both are worn for dancing ballet.
One major difference between these two is the fact that all ballet dancers, male or female wear ballet shoes when they dance. Pointe shoes however, are usually worn by female dancers. Although male dancers performing women roles in dance companies such as Grandiva and Les Ballets Trockadero also wear pointe. Males playing Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream or the ugly stepsister in Cinderella and other unconventional roles might wear pointe too. Ballet slippers are mostly worn during ballet classes and rehearsal, but women dancers change to pointe shoes during the performance or for center or pointe work.
Another main difference is in the physical feature and structure. A ballet shoe or slipper is soft and lightweight and is made of either satin, canvas or soft leather and comes with a thin flexible sole. It has to fit snugly on the foot to ensure maximum flexibility and safety. Traditionally, a ballet shoe has a leather sole which does not extend all the way to the tip of the slipper. But a modern version of the ballet slipper has a split sole for greater flexibility. The split sole also accentuate the contour of the foot when it is pointed.
On the other hand, a pointe has two major features not found on soft ballet shoes: a box and a shank. A box is the squared front of the shoes that supports and encloses the toes. A shank is a rigid object that stiffens the sole and serves as a support for the arch of the foot when it is pointed. The box of a conventional pointe shoe is normally made from compactly wadded layers of cloth and paper that are glued together and flattened in order to form a platform at which a dancer can balance. When the glue dries, it hardens to provide the needed stiffness to support the weight of the dancer. For more modern pointe shoes, the box is sometimes made from rubber and plastic, with the plastic providing the rigidity. I would like to thank In Motion Training Center for providing us with information for our website. You can visit them at inmotiontrainingcenter.com
How Pointe shoes are made
Pointe shoes are produced in different models each offering a special fit because every dancer’s foot is unique with disparity in mechanical strength, flexibility, shape and toe length. But whatever model or manufacturer of a pointe shoe, each and every model incorporates these two features.
How Ballet shoes are made
Ballet shoes are made from satin, canvas or soft leather. On the other hand, the outer side of a pointe shoes is wrapped with fabric, usually satin, to hide the box and other structures inside the shoes. Some pointe, however are covered with canvas. But both a ballet and pointe shoe for ladies are most often available in pink. Pointe shoes are not normally found in black or white but male dancers usually wear white or black ballet shoes. Tan colored ballet slippers are also worn for modern ballet performances to give the appearance of dancing barefoot.