“Didn’t I JUST buy you a pair?!”
It is the phrase that echoes through dance studio lobbies, especially this time of year. But fitting dance shoes is a little bit tricky…
As a general rule, dance shoes should not allow for (much) growing room. Too much space can be dangerous, as shoes can easily fall off or cause a dancer to trip. Combine that with rapidly-growing young dancers, whose feet may grow by a half or even a whole size within a school year, and suddenly the dancer is not the only one experiencing the discomfort of growing pains.
But what is a dance mom (or dad) to do when faced with the possibility of needing to get another pair of dance shoes?
“Can’t you just make it until the show?”
Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.
The best way to know how to proceed, is to just listen to your dancer. What is he or she saying or NOT saying? If you do notice shoes are starting to get tight, wait for the dancer to come forward about shoe discomfort. Dance shoes are made to form right to the foot, so what looks tight to mom or dad, can feel like a second-skin to the dancer. (Which is ultimately, how shoes should feel when fitting dance shoes for a fully-grown dancer.)
But more than likely, your dancer will be the one coming to you with shoe discomfort.
The next step is to check-in to see if there is another possibility…
- Has another dancer recently gotten new shoes or complained about fit? –> Wait a week and see if your dancer still feels the same (or was rather just jumping on the bandwagon).
- Might the shoes be just a little dirty? –> Dirty shoes still fit! Just wipe with a damp cloth or magic eraser and they’ll be good as new!
Or… maybe it is really time to stop by the local dancewear store…
- Was the ballet drawstring tied too tight? –> Oops! Unfortunately there’s no way to loosen a too-tight drawstring. Time for new shoes. For the next pair, cinch the elastic only enough to gather the excess fabric, then double-knot and cut off the extra string.
- Is the ballet drawstring gone? –> Again, that’s a bummer, he or she will need new shoes. Without the drawstring, a ballet shoe is essentially unusable.
- Are the dancer’s toes scrunched up or poking out of the ballet sipper? –> If toes are scrunched, poking out, and/or the dancer cannot lay toes flat, this is a telltale sign of too-tight shoes. Time to get fitted for a new pair!
- Is the dancer is obvious pain? –> While we may be tempted to make a dancer “suck it up” until after his or her next performance, an ill-fitting shoe can ultimately cost more in the long-run than biting the bullet and springing for a new pair.
Blisters, bruises, injuries and the like – while bearable for some – can end up turning a dancer off from the art of dance itself. So while it might just be yet another pair of shoes to mom or dad… to the dancer, fitting dance shoes correctly is necessary in the pursuit of their passion!