I often think that I should have purchased stock in Capezio, in particular their dance shoe section. A dancer’s most valuable asset are the feet, so while they must be coveted and cared for, what they put on those feet for each dance genre is as important. Without the click clack of the tap shoe, the dance wouldn’t be the same, and those wonderful ballroom shoes that allow the dancer to glide and makes their feet look good? Couldn’t do without them. But why so many different dance shoes you ask? I asked the same question. My daughter started out with ballet slippers, life was simple. For 3 glorious years, we purchased ONLY leather ballet slippers. Then she added jazz, and the decision was easy because the regulation jazz shoes for her studio were the lace up ones. Modern dance was the next genre added and I felt like we had hit gold since this dance type required NO shoes!! Tap, then hip hop, then character shoes were soon added. Oh! Let’s not leave out Pointe shoes, I remember the elation when she heard those glorious words “You are ready to go en Pointe”, and then the pleasure and thrill of the pointe shoe fitting, and then….the tally at the cash register. I really should have purchased stock in Capezio.
Let’ talk dance shoes:
Ballet Slippers: These days you can purchase first ballet slippers at many retail stores, and while this may be a convenience you must make sure that a proper fitting is does. Your young (or older) dancers slippers should fit snugly but not too tight, don’t think you can pull it snug with the drawstring. That is not the purpose of the drawstring. Dance shoes are not street shoes and shouldn’t be treated as such, don’t think “I’ll buy them a little big so that she/he can grow into them. This goes for all genres, but especially with slippers because your teacher will need to see when you flex and when you pointe.
Pointe Shoes: If your dancer sticks with ballet & graduates to Pointe shoes, Congratulations! Pointe shoes allow dancers to stand on the tips of their toes for long periods of times. There is a science and physics to the shoe, nothing I could get into elaborately on here (I’m no expert) but it is important that the dancer is properly fitted for the shoe. This means trying on several brands until the right comfort and fit are achieved. Pointe shoes are not ready to wear out of the box, there is some sewing of ribbons and elastic to be done, another reason why the fitting appointment is important. The dancer receives training on how this is done correctly. Why the shoes tend to be sturdy, based on the wear, muscle strength, and other factors, the shoes need to be replaced faster than other types of dance shoes.Every pointe shoe is hand-made and because of this the shoe can cost anywhere between $50-$100.
Tap Shoes: “On the Good ship lolllllllipop”………that’s the first song that comes to mind whenever I think of tap shoes; a young Shirley Temple, tapping away in her cute Mary Jane tap shoes. Young tapers normally start with Mary Jane style of tap shoes. As the tapper advances, they can opt for the split sole shoe which allows for more flexibility.
Jazz Shoes: Jazz shoes are available in both leather and canvas, and a multitude of styles (lace, slip on, sneaker). Teachers will usually let their class know their preference in jazz shoe, but any jazz shoe should provide flexibility to perform the dance moves. Like with the other shoes, the jazz shoe should fit Make sure the dancer has good arch support and allows for bending, and allows for lots of spring!
Hip Hop Shoes: NOT to be confused with the jazz sneaker. Hip hop mimic most athletic shoes in that they are sturdy. Tennis shoes, or the thinner canvas shoes are NOT a replacement for hip hop shoes either. Again sturdy is key.
Ballroom Dance Shoes: Cha Cha cha…..the ballroom dance looks more like a normal dress shoe and surprisingly has a thinner sole than normal street shoes. It is crucial to have a non-slip sole, but not a rubber sneaker type of sole as that can cause knee injuries.
The theme here is basically making sure you have the right footwear for the dance style (or styles) you choose. It’s imperative to have fittings to make sure the shoe fits well so that you can prevent any injuries.