If you’ve ever ventured onto a ballet site, you’ll know that discussion of foot types is ‘the’ topic. However, it’s rarely mentioned in the world of Latin and Ballroom. This is a shame, because every teacher and dancer knows that feet have structural personality quirks that are as individual as the dancers that belong to them.
Understanding these differences, and working with them, is the key to great dancing. Here are four of the most important points, and how to counteract them.
1) Toe length
Toe length is all about weight distribution, and this is linked to stability. As a general rule, the more even the toe length, the more stability a dancer will have. Note the term ‘general rule’ here! Firstly, weight distribution is something that can be tackled by a variety of influencers, such as posture and ergonomics. Secondly, toes are just one part of a very complex part of the body, so there is little point fretting about length. What matters is recognising what you are working with, and finding the right tools and technique for the job.
If you are working with uneven toes, the key is to get the correct length of shoe, and to ensure that the shoe sole is stable. Too much flexibility will be a hindrance, and could lead to injury.
2) Heel Cup
Hands up everyone who has slipped around in a poorly manufactured heel cup! Whether you have a male or female physiological design, heels are a biological wildcard that can wreak havoc on a dancer’s performance. Most shoe heel cups are manufactured to a standardised 1950s prototype, so if you come in at a little wider or narrower than the norm, most performance ballroom shoes will offer you the combination of reduced control and increased injury risk. Injuries are stress related, and typically affect the ankles, knees, hips, and spine.
If you find your shoes a little loose around the heel, consider an ergonomic design. Ray Rose has several solutions. All of the Artsport professional dance shoes are carefully tapered, and the x-range has advanced ergonomic features.
3) Arch Support
Orthotics are now a fundamental element of high-quality dance shoe design, so arches of all shapes are fully supported. In a professional dance shoe, the support of the arch of the foot is instrumental as this is where several important points of force transfer are located. To achieve the best synergy between a foot and shoe, design is everything.
Until the 1850s, the notion of ‘left and right’ shoes didn’t exist. Today, that seems surreal. In the future, people will probably glance back and think that our ideas of feet symmetry are strange. Foot development is related to many factors, such as gait, injury, and genetics. Shoes are sold in identical pairs, and this is still the industry standard. However, an understanding of asymmetry can be used to a dancer’s advantage. If you understand your feet, you can start to match them with the best possible shoes. Look for high-quality materials that will balance points of stress, and a design that is both natural and supportive.
If asymmetry is an issue for you, pick up the phone. There are always solutions, and slight manufacturing tweaks can make a big difference.
Our passion is supporting dancers through their shoes. If you want advice or information, please get in touch today.
Image source: wikipedia.org