Dance Shoes Buying Guide

One of the most important aspects of learning how to properly dance is having the appropriate footwear. Shoes that fit perfectly are just as important as sneakers in any other sport. You can train all you want, but if you don’t have the right shoes, a lot can go wrong – from slips and falls to strains and blisters which can cause downtime from dancing. And just like you need to pack these beauty items in your dance bag to look good, the right dance shoes will also complement your on-stage performance.

What Is The Perfect Dance Shoe For You?

When you’re looking for dance shoes online or at local stores, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options. Knowing your dancing style and shoe preferences will make the process much easier. Essentially, there’re three different types of dance shoes out there: ballet shoes which are the most common type, and for the other popular dance categories, you have jazz shoes and tap shoes.

Ballet Shoes

picture of a girl in a ballerina outfit and ballet shoes
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The two main kinds of shoes in ballet are flats and pointe shoes used for toe dancing. Back in the 17th century, the first conventional ballet shoe had heels, and throughout the years as the dance form evolved, it had gone past several designs. The contemporary ballet shoe may be traced back to the early 1900s, when Russian ballerina Ana Pavlova, a well-known artist at the time, designed the modern pointe shoe, by inserting extra support for the toes and creating the box.

Flat Shoes

Flats are regular ballet shoes that are usually made of canvas or leather. They’re very soft and because your legs have little support, you can’t go up on your toes and pointe. They’re often used by women during warm-up exercises. Sometimes when doing contemporary dances, pirouette shoes are worn. While whirling nonstop, the elastics around the sides and beneath the arch of the foot keep you grounded. Ballet shoes made of canvas conform better to the dancer’s arch than leather.

Pointe Shoes

In contrast to flats, pointe shoes are usually worn by women. They’ve two elements that regular ballet shoes don’t have, a box and shank. The tip of the shoe is made of a box with many layers of paper and cloth that are tightly packed. To make a platform, these layers of paper/cloth are bonded together and then flattened. Rubber and plastic can also be used to make modern versions. The rigid base for the dancer to balance is provided by the plastic.

The soles of pointe shoes are strengthened by an interior shank that runs between the outer sole and the insole. The shank is a stiff element that aids in the support and hardness of the sole, especially when the foot is arched and pointed. Leather, cotton, and satin make up the remainder of the shoe. Every shoe can be manufactured by request and handcrafted to match the individual needs of each dancer.

Jazz Shoes

picture of a woman dancing jazz dance
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Jazz shoes are widely used in a variety of dance disciplines, including line dancing, lyrical dancing, and pole dancing. They’re also popular as Latin and ballroom dance practice shoes.

Full Sole vs Split Sole Jazz Shoes

When browsing the range of jazz dance shoes online, you’ll notice that they are separated into two groups: full sole and split sole. Full sole shoes have a continuous rubber sole attached, and it’s especially helpful for developing foot strength and working through your pointe techniques, so it’s a terrific option for younger dancers who want to develop strong feet. The complete sole also allows for the insertion of an orthotic or insole, giving additional support when needed.

While the full sole gives the needed strength for the foot, the split sole provides more flexibility and are ideal for dancers who want to emphasize their arch yet appreciate the security and precise fit that shoelaces provide. The sole is meant to provide enough grip and security while also enabling them to spin and slide freely.

Pull-on Split and Slip-on Split Shoes

If you’re considering getting split shoes, then you’re not done choosing yet, as they are also divided into two categories: pull-on and slip-on. If you have narrow and thin feet, the best option for you would be the pull on split shoes. They have an elastic layer on top of the arch of the foot that provides extra support and security. Made of soft quality leather, the pull-on method eliminates the worry of shoelaces coming undone.

On the other hand, the slip-on split sole is preferred by individuals who like a more “boot-like” kind of shoe. It features a slightly higher fit on the top of the foot than the other jazz shoes in the line, giving additional coverage and increased ankle support. Elastic inserts on the sides of the shoe improve flexibility and fit, making it suitable for a variety of foot shapes.

Tap Shoes

picture of a person in a hall dancing in tap shoes
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The sound of tap shoes striking the floor is well-known in tap dance, and percussion is created by tapping the shoes. They come in a range of materials, like wood, leather, canvas and plastic. The materials are not as important for producing the distinct tapping sounds, but the height of the heel and the quality of the heel and toe plate.

Low Heel Tapping Shoes

The oxford shoes are a preferred choice for most beginners for gaining stability and lots of movements. This shoe has a more solid feel to it, reducing the dancer’s centre of gravity.

High Heel Tapping Shoes

In Broadway or musical theatres, a high heel shoe is a more desirable piece. This shoe gives a smooth and elegant look to the outfit and the weight of the dancer is felt towards the front.

Choosing the Right Fit for You

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When purchasing dance shoes, pay close attention to how well they fit and the comfort they provide. Since you’ll be spending so many hours in them, it’s only right to take your time when choosing.

Choosing a half-size or one size smaller than your regular shoe size should get you to your ideal fit. Just make sure they’re not overly tight, that you’ll lack the flexibility that leads to unwanted injuries.

The Importance of Having Different Kinds of Shoes and Styles

The instance of having different kinds of dance shoes is because of the many dancing styles out there. And the type of dancing shoes you choose might also be influenced by the type of surface you’ll be performing on. So choosing the right shoe is highly determined by the purpose of the dance.

Maintenance and Care of the Shoes

picture of a person putting on a ballerina  shoes
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The proper care of the shoes begins with the rule of exclusively wearing them inside the classroom or designated practise area. Avoid wearing them outside under all circumstance, since rough surfaces and water will degrade them.

To keep your shoes in great shape, you should polish them on a regular basis. Applying silicon-based oil to avoid cracking is also a good idea.

Because of all the surface contact, foot use, and everything else our shoes may come in contact with, they collect dust and stains. It is suggested that satin or other fabric material dance shoes be treated with repellents to assist and prevent further damage.

Sometimes even with proper care the dance shoes will crack and bend over time, especially ballet shoes. Professional ballerinas can change pointes regularly during practise sessions.