The most important elements of a dancer’s attire are their shoes. If you just signed up your child for dance lessons, be prepared to purchase a few items according to the class’s dress code, including special dance shoes. Here are the types of shoes our students wear here at Dance Academy USA.
Ballet shoes or slippers are made of canvas, leather or satin and feature a full or split leather sole. A thick sole at the heel and ball of the foot provides cushioning, while a thin sole at the arch allows for flexibility. Elastic straps hold the shoe to the top of the dancer’s foot. Girls’ ballet shoes are usually pink while boys’ are black.
Pointe shoes are a type of ballet shoe for advanced dancers. They feature a box and platform at the front to allow dancers to walk on their toes. An elastic strap secures the shoe to the top of the dancer’s foot while ribbons tie around the ankle. Only female ballerinas wear pointe shoes. Male dancers stick to leather or canvas slippers.
Tap shoes feature metal taps on the toe and heel that create a percussive sound when they strike the floor. A soundboard is integrated into the sole of the shoe on which the taps are secured. The tonal quality of a tap shoe depends on the tap’s size, shape, weight and material. Tap shoes are usually black.
Jazz shoes are form-fitting, slip-on footwear. They feature a low heel, split sole, and suede patch on the bottom for easier turning. An elastic design or laces secure the shoe to the dancer’s foot. Jazz shoes most often come in nude and black.
Foot thongs, or half dance shoes, are nude-colored slip-ons that cover only the ball of the foot. These are often worn during contemporary/lyrical dance lessons instead of going barefoot to reduce friction and prevent injury.
Athletic Dance Shoes
Athletic dance shoes look like ordinary sneakers at first glance, but they have split soles to allow for greater flexibility. Many also feature a “spin spot” to make pivots and turns easier. These shoes are worn during hip-hop and breakdance classes. Students should have a dedicated pair of athletic dance shoes that they only wear to dance lessons.
The Importance of Proper-Fitting Dance Shoes
Size is critical when selecting shoes for your child’s dance lessons. Leaving too much room to grow increases the chance of injury or developing ankle/knee problems. Remember that new jazz shoes and ballet slippers stretch as they wear in, and the foot shortens when a dancer points their toes. For this reason, you should fit dance shoes like socks rather than leaving room at the toe. Your child’s dancer instructor can advise you on achieving the perfect fit.