I don’t know about other people but my earliest childhood memory involved shoes. I was exactly 4 years and 3 months old, and it was my first overseas trip – to Singapore. I couldn’t tell you who else went on that family trip, I don’t remember what we did in Singapore, but I do remember the shoes I wore. They were a pair of pink Mary Jane shoes made of material that felt like leather, and they had proper straps and buckles, not just velcro or elastic straps.
I don’t know who decided that young girls should love ballet and the colour pink, but I was no exception. Another shoe that I remember from my childhood (which were also pink) were my ballet slippers with pink ribbons that tie around the ankles. I love my ballet classes and I love my ballet shoes. I wish I had stuck with ballet lessons for longer, though even if I had continued, I would eventually grow too tall to be any good as a ballet dancer.
I don’t think people ever forget the things that bring them joy as a child, so as an adult, I signed up for an adult ballet class. Adult ballet classes are just as fun as when I was a child, and allow me to relive the joys of my childhood. I managed to buy myself a pair of ballet shoes (in pink of course!). Fortunately in New Zealand, I could find a pair big enough to fit me. I doubt I would have been able to in Malaysia. If you thought trying to make sense of European, UK and US shoes sizes were hard, you should try deciphering dance shoe sizes. There does not seem to be any uniformity, and different brands size their dance shoes differently. If you are buying dance shoes, just try them on. It’s easier that way.
Similar to traditional Chinese and Japanese clogs, ballet shoes also don’t come in a left or right side. But unlike clogs, with ballet shoes you pick which side you want to wear on your left or right foot and then label that side L or R. Eventually, the ballet shoes will mould to fit your feet.
I bought a pair of soft full-sole leather ballet flats by the Paul Wright label. This is an Australian label, but the shoes are made in Indonesia. Paul Wright was a professional dancer and a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet. He toured the world with companies such as the Australian Ballet, London’s Festival Ballet, New Zealand Ballet and Queensland Ballet. Paul Wright taught himself how to make dance shoes, drawing on his own dance background and knowledge of dancers’ needs to design his dance shoes. He started his company Paul Wright Pty Ltd in 1969. After retiring as a dancer in 1973, he concentrated on making dance shoes and dance wear. Paul Wright sold his company in 2006 to Spratz. Products under the Paul Wright label are still distributed by Spratz Dancewear.
As a street shoe, ballet flats is one of my favourite style of shoe. They can be worn with just about anything – skirts, dresses, jeans or trousers. Ballet flats look good, are comfortable and never go out of style.