If Ballroom dancing is your passion, finding the right dance shoes to assist your development as a dancer should be high on your agenda. Choosing the correct shoes can be likened to choosing a dependable dance partner; both work with you to support your performance. Feeling comfortable in your shoes is essential for projecting confidence and assurance in your dancing, but with such a vast array of brands, styles and designs available, it can be difficult to know which shoes to invest in.
Here are our five top tips on how to buy dance shoes that will enhance your technique and help you to dance in comfort for longer.
1) Invest In Quality
No matter how advanced your ability, specialist dance shoes are designed to cushion and protect the feet and joints from injury. Dancing in poorly constructed or ill-fitting shoes can cause a variety of painful conditions, from minor problems such as blisters and bunions to severe injuries such as stress fractures, muscle and tendon injuries. While specialist dance shoes are more expensive, they are made from superior materials to last longer, feel better and care for your feet while you dance.
2) Match The Shoe With The Dance
Ballroom dance shoes are designed to accentuate the different characteristics of Standard and Latin dance styles. Standard dance shoes for women have a closed toe and sides with a slim or flared heel, whereas Latin dance shoes are generally a flexible, open toe strappy sandal, designed to shift the dancer’s weight forward onto the ball of the foot.
For men, both Standard and Latin shoes resemble a laced oxford, however Standard dance shoes have a 1 inch heel, while Latin shoes feature a 1.5 to 2 inch Cuban heel and are ergonomically designed to create the illusion of length through the leg.
It is also important to consider where the shoes will be worn. All genuine dance shoes for indoor wear will have suede soles to assist smooth motion through turns. Shoes for competitions must meet style regulations to conform with formal traditions, whereas shoes worn for social dancing simply need to be stylish and comfortable.
3) Find The Perfect Fit
All dance shoes must fit correctly to prevent the foot from sliding inside the shoe, as this can cause the dancer to lose balance or for the shoe to come off. Once strapped or laced into the shoe the foot should not be able to move but should still have flexibility of movement to allow for pointing wiggling the toes. Essentially, the shoe should feel like an extension of the foot.
As dance shoes crafted from fine quality materials are designed to mould to the foot with wear, most manufacturers recommend choosing a dance shoe that is half a size smaller than a regular shoe. However, if the shoe feels instantly uncomfortable or prevents movement it is too tight. For ladies, in Latin dance shoes the toes should be positioned at the edge or just over the edge of the shoe. This is because more of the sole is exposed when the toes are pointed, and excess length could cause the dancer to trip.
If you are buying the shoes online, check whether the shoes are sold in European, UK or US sizing. Most importantly, never attempt to dance in shoes that feel uncomfortable as they could inflict damage on your feet.
4) Choose A Comfortable Heel
Dancing in shoes with a heel takes practice. Even small increases in height can affect balance and posture as additional pressure is placed on the balls of the feet. Heel shapes also affect the level of stability provided by a shoe, with flared heels providing a greater surface area for support. As higher heels require increased ankle and muscle strength, always choose a heel height you can dance in comfortably and progress gradually if a higher heel is needed to facilitate the correct posture. Choosing specialist shoes with protective integral orthotic support will support your arches correctly, to reduce pressure and discomfort.
5) Choose A Reputable Brand
Taking the time to read reviews, recommendations and endorsements can help you decide which brands to consider. Brands worn by professional Ballroom dancers at championships are a sound indication of quality, reliability and comfort. Dance competitions can also be the ideal opportunity to try on leading brands sold by dancewear resellers, to help you find suitable styles and sizes prior to investing.
Ray Rose Ballroom Dance Shoes
At Ray Rose, we design and manufacture two exquisite ranges of specialist dance shoes; our ArtSport range, for professional dancers and our Sapphire range, for social dancers. Ray Rose shoes are available from leading dancewear resellers around the world or directly via our website, where you can browse our stylish choice of Standard, Latin and practice dance shoes.
We wish you every success in finding your perfect pair of dance shoes.