There are two main types of ankle ribbon ballet slippers: pointe shoes with shiny ribbons covering the ankle elastic, and soft ballet slippers that have had ankle ribbons added on. Traditionally, soft ballet slippers do not have ankle ribbons; however, many little girls want to look like older girls with pointe shoes, which prompts many to sew shiny ribbons on soft shoes as well as pointe shoes.
Anatomy of Pointe Shoes
Pointe shoes are the shoes that older ballerinas graduate into when their feet, bones, and muscles are ready to start working en pointe. These shoes are hardened with glue to provide support to the dancer's feet so that standing on the toe of the shoe becomes easier. While pointe shoes can hurt quite a bit, they are beautiful, which is why all young ballerinas cannot wait to acquire their first pair. Pointe shoes are shiny, and they are ornamented with shiny ankle straps that get criss-crossed around the ankles. In addition to being so shiny and pretty, pointe shoes are a symbol of prima ballerinas. Young dancers aspire to wear them because they represent accomplished dancers moreso than soft ballet slippers.
Ankle Ribbon Ballet Slippers
Several different ballet supply companies make ribboned pointe shoes. Because different companies make their shoes in slightly different shades of pink, it is important to get the right color ankle ribbons to match the pointe shoes. While there are companies that sell black, white, and other colors of pointe shoes, most often they are pink: ranging from light pink to salmon pink.
When visiting a dance supply shop, the storekeeper will help you find the right pair of shoes for your feet. Pointe shoes must be fitted by a professional; never order your first few pairs of shoes from an online supplier unless a professional has fitted your feet and told you which brand and size you should order. Be sure to get the elastics and ribbons as well as the shoes.
New Pointe Shoes
After you have found and purchased your pointe shoes, you will have some work to do! The shoes will not have ankle straps or ankle ribbons yet; you will have to sew these on yourself or find a seamstress who is willing to do it. The best way to learn the correct place and angle for sewing the elastic straps and ribbons is to ask the shopkeeper or salesperson when you have your shoes fitted. Make a mark inside the shoe so that when you have the shoes at home you can remember the location and the angle at which they should be sewn on.
In addition to sewing the straps and ribbons, most dancers burn or fray the ends of their ribbons. If you do not do this, the ribbons will begin to fray very badly in a short time. Have someone help you use a lighter to burn the ends of the ribbons; alternatively, fold the frayed ends over and then sew the ends double so that they cannot fray anymore.
The strings at the toe end of the shoes should be tied at the right length and then tucked inside the shoes. Lastly, some dancers break in their pointe shoes so that they are easier to use (less painful), and perform better. This is in regard to the 'shank', or sole, of the shoes, which is extremely hard. This needs to be broken in a bit before the shoes will perform optimally. Some dancers break in the shoes with their feet; other dancers bend the soles with their hands, or use other preferred methods. Like each dancer has her own brand and style of shoe, each dancer has their own method of breaking them in.
Non-Professional Ankle Ribbon Slippers
Young ballerinas, and young girls in general, get a kick out of ankle ribbon ballet slippers. For this reason, ballet shoes, and even ballet flats, are sometimes made to resemble pointe shoes in the sense that they have ankle ribbons added to their design. Likewise, women's ballet flats sometimes have ribbons added for a little touch of extra romance to the shoes.
La Bella Flora Children's Boutique makes a pair of golden ballet-like slippers for young girls. Matching the gold slippers are golden ribbons that tie around the ankles. At Advantage Bridal, several pairs of bridal shoes for the bride herself have ankle ribbons to make them resemble ballet shoes even more than traditional ballet flats do.
Symbol of Ballet
Ankle ribbons, shiny and flowing, are a symbol of ballet and famous ballet dancers. Both within the ballet world, and in mainstream fashion culture, ankle ribbons are a symbol of femininity and grace.