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Top Tips to Buy the Perfect Pair of Dance Shoes for any Dance Form | Beyond the Barre

Top Tips on How to Buy the Perfect Pair of Dance Shoe, Irrespective of the Dance Form

 If you ask any dancer what is the most crucial part of their body? Most will answer – feet! Just as musicians care for their instruments and maintain them in good working order, so do dancers.

Shakespeare very famously declared: “Apparel oft proclaims the man," that may or may not be true, but we at On1dancewear would like to announce: shoes certainly do make the dancer.

Whether you are a competing professional or a total beginner- a ballet dancer or jazz, good dance shoes are an absolute must if you wish to perform to your best and progress as a dancer.

Dance floors are notoriously fickle for a dancer’s feet. Too much grip, not enough grip, and random sticky spots – anything could lead to awkward turns or dangerous foot slips. It is here that genuine, top quality dance shoes can make all the difference.

Dance is just like a sport. You need to have the correct equipment to do well, and let your feet do the talking. The right pair of dance shoes can make a huge difference in your dance studio experience and even if you are a social dancer or a performer, the shoes make a lot of difference.

Buying dance shoes for any dance form could be tricky for first-timers. Size, style, heel height, material, everything that you need to look for is a lot of information to process, so let’s walk you through everything that you need to know.

Style of your Dance Shoe:

There are different shoes for different dance forms. American rhythm, Latin, Standard (Ballroom), American Smooth, Jazz, Tap dance or ballet- the usage decides the style that you should pick up. For example- Latin shoes usually have open toes and higher heels. Open toes because the height of the heel places the weight forward onto the ball of the foot, and sole of the shoe is flexible enough to point the foot while making sharp movements and turns.

Heels:

Most dancers would swear by not going for thick-heeled practice Latin shoe as your first pair. Only once you have some experience should you go for one. Unless you have some issue with your foot, don't go for practice shoe; instead, take the real deal from day one. Slim heels make turning easier, while flared heels are preferred where more stability is required.

Color & Material:

Color and material of the shoe could help you express your personal style. Usually, bronze, tan or flesh colored leather shoes are the first choice for practice. Canvas or leather shoes are a good start. Patent leather shoes are ubiquitous in competitions as they look really sharp. Male dancers often go for combinations of suede and leather too. These Calf Skin leather Black shoes with suede top lift add personality into dance and guys definitely don't want to be left out in that department!

Quality leather dance shoes are preferred over synthetic materials as they stretch and mold to the shape of the foot over time.

Check the Soles too!

Sole is as important as the shoe. There is a variety of options like chrome soles, suede leather soles, and smooth leather soles. While chrome sole can be used for any surface, suede leather works best with wooden flooring where it provides the right amount of grip and slide while moving across the dance floor. Don’t go for smooth leather soles unless you are an expert dancer, as they are too slippery. AVOID rubber soles at all costs as they cause too much friction, and you won’t be able to move freely on the dance floor.

The Size that Fits Right:

Proper fitting of your dance shoes is critical, and for that sizing is essential. Too big, and your footwork will suffer, and too small they would pinch and blister, making your dance lessons a painful experience. The general rule of thumb is to "go down a size from your regular shoes." The shoes shouldn't have any wiggle room once correctly laced up, but at the same time, they should be snug and not painful.

Price:

With prices ranging from $60- $250, any dancer would want to shop for dance shoes that last and also support long hours spent at dance lessons. The variations in the prices are mainly because of the difference in the quality and type of material used as well as how well the shoes have been crafted. Remember, you can't go too cheap, and you get what you pay for when it comes to picking up the right dance shoes.

Looks are not Everything:

You may want a fierce, sassy pair, but they’ll get ruined in the dance class, therefore, make sure you shop within your budget. Those stilettos might look like must-buys, but you will have to work your way up to those crazy-high heels for dancing.

In all fairness, dance shoes should be selected not only for appearance but comfort, support, performance, and protection.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to find the perfect pair:

  • Shop for shoes during the evening or late afternoon. Our feet tend to expand during the day and afternoon naturally is an excellent time to start shopping.
  • Take a pair of socks/leggings you would wear while you would be dancing. Wear the same while you try the shoe on.
  • It’s a myth that dance shoes need to be "broken in," and they will fit better as you wear them over time. Try and buy shoes that fit from day one.
  • Remember, sizes vary between manufacturers, so you are the real judge when it comes to shoe’s size or description when you are buying online. 
  • Width is as important as length. Don’t cramp your feet in narrow shoes. If the ball of your foot feels compressed in a particular shoe, buying one or half size bigger shoe won’t help. You must ask if it comes in a wider size. 
  • Check the inside of the shoes. Tags, seams or any material might irritate your foot during those long hours of practicing and dancing.
  • Check the soles out- Dance shoes mostly have anti-skid soles, the good quality ones also have a suede inner lining to ensure you don't slip or miss a step on tricky dance floors.
  • Calling out men who are reading this-Always pick up shoes that are lightweight and put comfort over style. A secure fit where your foot doesn't move, but it's not too tight either!
  • Tango and flamenco dancers wear higher heels, while lower heels are preferred for ballroom or Latin. If you are only going to buy a single pair for all forms, go for a medium high heel that will work for both. Ideally, a heel of 2 to 2.5 inches for women and 1 to 2 inches for men's dance shoes are preferred.
  • This one is for ladies-Avoid thin straps as they are less supportive and likely to stretch too much while you dance. Choose high-quality leather where the straps are closer together. Your shoes should have straps, so they don't come off or get loose when you move around. Mary Jane or T-Strap Style works best.
  • Dancers with narrow feet should not opt for a wide, open-toe dance shoe. While tango, you would prefer closed toe shoes to avoid getting stepped on by your partners.
  • You cannot, and should not wear your dance shoes for any other purpose except for dance. At least one pair should be kept safe only for dancing to ensure your shoes are as new as ever and last longer.

No one has crafted the "perfect dance shoe" yet, but there are some "near perfect" options for you. Look for a pair that provides comfort as well as support the first time you wear them.

Thanks to the popularity of Ballroom Dance TV Shows awareness about various dance forms like Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Samba, Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba, Paso Doble, Jive, Salsa has increased manifold. As a result, there are so many styles, fits, and options for dance shoes. With increased awareness, the demand for better design has gone up too. Most dancers prefer a balance of form and function when it comes to picking up the perfect pair.

Above all, the unique shape of your foot and your basic anatomy like the size of the toe, arch height, etc will determine the type of shoe you could dance in. For example, if you have high arches, T-strap style may not suit you as it can impede your range when you are trying to point your foot.

A pair of quality dance shoes will help you learn better and dance longer. A specialist supplier of dance shoes can help you pick the right one that fits perfectly.

Buying online is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get the dream pair of shoes and dance like a dream. Try now!

Resources-

Healthy Feet- https://www.health.harvard.edu/promotions/harvard-health-publications/healthy-feet

John

Danielle Hernandez

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About the Author

Danielle Hernandez has been in the dance industry for over 30 years. She landed her first professional dance job at the age of 11.

Danielle received her acting and musical theater training at the prestigious Musical Theater Works Conservatory, and she graduated from Rutgers University with a major in dance and minor in music.

In addition to training and competing with a dance company in NJ, Danielle also trained at Steps on Broadway, as well as Broadway Dance Center. At the young age of 15, Danielle fell in love with teaching dance and coaching competitive cheer squads and dance teams, bringing them to success with state, regional, and national championship titles

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