My little three-year-old daughter is in her second year of taking dance from me and she recently declared,
"I want to take ba-yay."
I paused, a bit confused . . . oh, ballet.
“You already take dance with me! We do lots of ballet in our classes and some other fun things as well.” I reminded.
Looking frustrated she persisted, “I want to take ba-yay and wear SHOES!”
The only reason she wants to take ballet is because of the shoes.
They are pretty and fun. However, I require my dancers to dance with barefeet. She is not the first dancer to be disappointed by this, but there are good reasons to not have little dancers wear shoes! Here are some of them that I have observed over the years:
1. Proprioception and balance—a direct connection to the floor enables little dancers to better know where their body is in space and how they are connected to the floor. This is important as they develop balance and motor skills.
2. Tactile—A lot of dance is not only the connection of the foot to the floor but also the sensation of the feet as they jump, slide, and brush. The nuances of the foot and toes brushing against the floor when dancers learn something like a tendu is extremely beneficial in addition to the sensory development.
3. Cost—as a mom, I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg keeping up with the growth of multiple children's rapidly growing feet as they grow out of ballet shoes. If it isn’t beneficial to them, as a mom I think it is not worth the cost.
4. More dancing time—less time helping little ones with the inevitable difficulties that come with shoes means more time dancing!
As for my three-year old, I told her she has to graduate from my studio (which happens when they are five) and THEN we will get her those ballet shoes she longs for.
Some other great teachers and educators agree with me! Check out their posts here: