What Can You Use Instead Of Ballet Shoes? (Explained)

When we think of ballet, we typically picture a pair of delicate pointe shoes. Many people do not realize that learning ballet involves using flat shoes for a few years before the dancer can graduate to dancing en pointe. Perhaps your shoes have worn out, and you are waiting for your new ones to arrive. Maybe you are starting ballet lessons as an adult and would like to try it out before making a significant investment. Either way, you may ask what you can use instead of ballet shoes.

Ballet shoes are made from soft, durable fabric with a non-slip sole. For an alternative to ballet shoes, consider using bare feet, Bloch socks, jazz shoes, foot thongs, or lyrical shoes. Assess the floor of your dancing space to ensure your safety and ease of movement with alternative shoes.

If you are thinking of ways to keep dancing without purchasing ballet shoes, you will be delighted to know that there are a few alternatives you can try. While no choice is as good as authentic ballet shoes, you can rest easy knowing that you have options. Join us as we uncover a few ideas of what to use instead of ballet shoes and their benefits, downsides, and warnings. 

What Can You Use Instead Of Ballet Shoes

What Can You Use Instead Of Ballet Shoes?

Before looking at alternatives for ballet shoes, you need to know what function ballet shoes provide the dancer. Let’s look at that to see what else we can use. In this article, we are uncovering information about flat ballet shoes. Pointe shoes are a specialist item for the ballet dancer, and the original should be used for safety purposes.

The Purpose Of The Ballet Shoe

Flat ballet shoes perform a few important purposes. They are made with a thin yet durable fabric. Fabrics typically used for flat ballet shoes include satin, leather, and canvas. The sole of the ballet shoe is made with suede, and there are usually ribbons or elastic or both attached to the shoe.

Ballet flats are made with thin fabric to allow the dancer to feel the floor and be mindful of each muscle and tendon in their feet. 

Practicing in this way allows the dancer to gain strength and learn how to move their feet beautifully. The sole is made from suede because it offers just the proper grip while allowing the dancer to glide their feet over the floor.

Ribbons and elastics keep the shoe in place. If a ballet shoe fits loosely, the dancer’s foot will slip inside the shoe, or the shoe could come off their foot as they dance. When ballet shoes are not securely fitted to the foot, they become a hazard to the dancer.

Flat ballet shoes are available with full or split soles. This choice regarding soles allows the dancer to experience more or less resistance as they pointe their feet. Before deciding on full or split soles, it is best to chat with your teacher as she likely has rules regarding this aspect of ballet shoes.

What Else Can I Wear If I Don’t Have Ballet Shoes?

Now that we know the purposes of the ballet shoe, we can look into a few alternatives. Please remember that authentic ballet shoes are the best bet for a ballet dancer. Our top five ideas will help you in a pinch.

A few alternatives to ballet shoes include:

  • Dancing barefoot
  • Socks
  • Half or lyrical shoes
  • Jazz shoes
  • Foot thongs
  • Placing a towel under your foot
  • Bloch socks

Before deciding what you will be using, thoroughly assess your dancing space’s floor. Your top priority should be the dancers’ safety. Paying close attention to their feet and knees. Clear the space of any objects they could stand or trip on, dust, uneven spaces, or slippery items.

Alternatives To Ballet Shoes

When selecting an alternative to ballet shoes, it is helpful to ensure that it will tick most or all the boxes of the purposes of authentic ballet shoes. Your alternative shoe should:

  • Support the foot
  • Use thin fabric to allow movement and feeling
  • Have a non-slip sole that still allows the foot to pointe
  • Have elastics or ribbon to hold the shoe onto the foot
  • Protect the foot from debris and mess on the floor
  • Allow ease of turn, jump, etc. to avoid strain to the knees

We have selected our top five options for you to use instead of ballet shoes. Let’s look at them in a bit of detail.

1. Dancing Barefoot

Dancing barefoot is possibly the best option if your dance floor is clean and clear of debris. Dancing barefoot gives you the freedom to move your feet through all the positions needed for each step. The downside to dancing barefoot is possible sticking when your feet become sweaty.

When a dancer’s feet become sweaty, executing turns and even tendu can become more challenging. If this happens, you may wish to keep your foot slightly off the floor or use a towel under your foot for the particular steps.

Suppose you are dancing barefoot and experience sticking with specific movements. In that case, it can be fairly helpful to place a towel or cloth under your foot for that particular step or exercise. The towel will help your foot move on the floor, and the towel fabric will likely help keep your foot on it.  

If you use this option, remove the towel before continuing with allegro work, as having a towel on the floor could be a tripping hazard.

2. Socks

After dancing barefoot, the next best option is wearing socks. If you choose this option, check the floor before dancing to ensure it is not slippery. The best type of sock to use for dancing is cotton. Cotton is slightly less slippery, especially when your feet begin to sweat.

If you are slipping while dancing in socks, try to uncover your heels. Uncovering your heels may provide you with enough grip to keep upright and enough slide to perform your turns and more.

3. Bloch Socks

Bloch socks are a kind of sock designed for dancers. They have padded heels, arch support, and grip and brake lines. They are a slightly pricier option for ballet dancers wanting an alternative to ballet shoes. 

Bloch socks are comfortable and are not likely to slip. They tick most of the boxes of the purpose of ballet shoes.

4. Half Or Lyrical Shoes

Half or lyrical shoes are often used for rhythmic gymnastics. They look similar to flat ballet shoes, though they only have the front of the shoe covering the toes. The rest of the foot is bare, and elastics keep the shoe in place.  

This option is not entirely flawless since the elastics are seldom enough to keep the shoe on for the duration of an entire ballet class. To secure the half shoe further, you may wish to place an additional elastic around the top and bottom of the foot.

5. Foot Thong

If you are dancing in a class, check with your teacher before purchasing a foot thong. Foot thongs are also known as foot undies, and they are relatively expensive. Foot thongs are placed over your toes and slightly further up your foot. The rest of the foot is left bare.

Foot thongs sometimes come with a sole, much like a ballet shoe. They work well for allowing you to turn and slide your foot when necessary while still providing the flexibility and grip of dancing barefoot. 


There are a few options to make use of instead of ballet shoes. The most accessible and most inexpensive idea is to dance barefoot. If you are dancing at a studio, chat with your teacher about your ideas for ballet shoe alternatives. If you are dancing at home, ensure your space is clean and safe to dance in, whichever choice feels best.

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