Choosing Dance Shoes – for Ladies

by Can Aksoy on September 22, 2012

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Are Dance Shoes Different From Regular Shoes?

Notice how dancing in street shoes is painful and difficult? That is because regular shoes have heavy, inflexible, textured soles that make it difficult to move. Dance shoes have light, flexible, and smooth soles, allowing your feet to articulate and pivot. These shoes improve dancing and are an essential investment for dancers at any level. Here is a guide to choosing the right shoe for you.

Step 1: Choosing a Shoe Type

Ladies’ dance shoes come in two types: Latin sandals and ballroom pumps. Ballroom pumps are used in the ballroom dances because their lower heels and closed toes encourage heel extension while dancing. Latin sandals are used for the Latin dances because their higher heels encourage hip action and help you point your toe.

Try Ballroom pumps for dances like:
Waltz
Tango
Foxtrot
Viennese Waltz
Quickstep

Ladies Standard Shoes

Try Latin sandals for dances like:
Cha Cha
Rumba
Samba
Jive
Paso Doble
Bolero
Mambo

Ladies Latin Shoes

Only buying one pair? Go with a pair of 2-2.5” heeled Latin sandals. Although these shoes are designed for Latin dancing, the shoe’s lower heel will make them compatible with the ballroom dances.Dance Sneakers

Consider dance sneakers! Sneakers make long parties and rehearsals more comfortable. That said, because they are heavier and less formal than regular dance shoes, they are not a good choice for competition.

Step 2: Fitting Your Dance Shoe

A dance shoe must remain snug and firmly cup your heel even after it has broken in; loose shoes cause falls and twisted ankles. Try to buy a tight-fitting shoe that will remain snug even after it has stretched out. This will most likely be one or two sizes smaller than your normal shoes. Also, remember to experiment with different shoe widths to help create room for your toes without buying a larger shoe.

Step 3: Features

Even after choosing the correct type and fit, dance shoes still come with options:

  • Heel Size: Most dance shoes come in a variety of heel sizes. Generally, Latin sandals feature a 3” heel, while ballroom pumps have 2”-2.5” heels. Often, higher heels will make you lighter on your feet at the price of stability. Try on a few sizes to see what works best for you.
  • Padding: Dance shoes have varying degrees of padding. Remember, too much padding sacrifices the shoe’s flexibility and your ability to feel the floor!
  • Sole Length: Be sure to point your feet when trying on Latin sandals. If too much of the sole protrudes beyond your toes while pointing, consider a smaller size or different model.

Step 4: Look

  • Color: Most women select skin-tone, satin shoes because this color matches the majority of costumes and makes the leg look longer.
  • Adornments: Many shoes have rhinestones, charms, etc. Make sure that they do not interfere with your dancing and leave your clothing unharmed.
  • Straps: For very strappy shoes, be sure that the shoe firmly secures all your toes, especially your baby toe. It is also advantageous for ballroom pumps to have a strap across the top your foot’s arch. If your shoe does not have them, you can purchase clear elastic in-step bands.

Step 5: Accessories

Consider buying a few accessories to care for your shoes:

  • Shoe Bag – to transport your dusty and smelly shoes.
  • Shoe Brush – these wire brushes remove grime that cakes to the soles of your shoes.
  • Suede Cleaner – to help remove gunk from the soles of your shoes.
  • Heel Protectors – are clear, plastic caps that cover the tips of your shoes’ heels, extending their life. Be sure to select the heel protector intended for your shoe; different brands have differently shaped heels. Once you do find the proper pair, buy a lot! Many collegiate competitions require that all ladies wear heel protectors.

Further Advice

  • Dance shoes with suede soles should be used indoors on smooth floors. Dancing outdoors on rough concrete will tear up the shoe’s sole and end its life prematurely.
  • These shoes are very expensive! If you are ever unsure about your selection, ask for help from store employees and other experienced dancers.
  • Dance shoes often cannot be returned after you have danced in them. Get second opinions on your selection before you wear your new shoes on the dance floor.

Shoe Vendors

Ballroom Shoes USA
Very Fine
Champion Dance Shoes
Worldtone

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