3 types of dance shoes

Dance shoes are very different from street shoes because they are designed to be lighter and to fit the foot of the dancer correctly. While there are a multitude of dance styles, there are only three main types of dance shoes. So what are the differences between them?

3 types of dance shoes

1. Ballet shoes

Probably the first type of shoes that come to mind when you think “dance shoes,” ballet shoes, or pointe shoes, are worn by ballet dancers when doing pointe dancing.

  • They are lightweight shoes made for both male and female ballet dancers to help them stay perfectly balanced on their toes.
  • They were developed for dancers to appear graceful and weightless, and to stand on their toes for extensive periods of time.
  • They come in leather, satin and canvas varieties, canvas being the most inexpensive of the three, and commonly used for rehearsals.
  • Satin shoes are generally used for performances exclusively, because they wear out quickly.
  • The type of ballet shoe a dancer chooses depends on their experience level and personal preference.

2. Jazz shoes

Jazz shoes are intended to provide dancers with the necessary foot flexibility to perform on stage.

  • They are used in jazz dance and other styles of dance including acro-dance, acrobatic rock-and-roll and hip hop, and are available in both low-rise and high-rise styles, as slip-ons or lace-up oxfords.
  • Split-sole jazz shoes allow for enhanced shoe flexibility and make it easier for a dancer to bend and flex their toes.
  • Some shoes come with a rubber sole that offers extra cushioning and absorbs the shock during jumps and other advanced moves.
  • Most jazz shoes are made of leather or canvas, and some have thicker heels for better shock-absorption.
  • Some have an additional suede patch under the ball of the foot to make quick turns easier.

3. Tap shoes

Tap shoes come in a variety of shapes, styles and colours. They are made from materials including leather, canvas, wood and plastic.

  • More inexperienced tap dancers typically begin with Mary Jane-style tap shoes, whereas more experienced dancers usually prefer flat leather oxford tap shoes.
  • Tap shoes with heels are also available. These tend to be a little more difficult to balance on because they put more weight on the ball of the foot and the toes.
  • More advanced dancers usually opt for split-sole tap shoes, which allow more flexibility for performing advanced tap steps.

The right shoe

In order to perform well, dancers require support and balance from their dance shoes, as well as protection from the shock of their movements, which can be intense. Different types of dances require different shoes.

If you're beginning a new type of dance, just be sure you've got the right shoes to start you off on the right foot.

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