If you are interested in learning about dance shoes, the first thing to note is that it’s a big job. There are as many types of dance shoes as there are different types of dance (well, not quite, but it sure isn’t far off it). Dance shoes are all about facilitating the type of dance that is to be performed, either by making it easier on the dancer’s feet or, in the case of ballet pointe shoes or tap-dancing shoes for example, to add to the aesthetic impression that the dancer makes on the audience.

Caring for Dance Shoes

Dance shoes are highly specialized products, some of which have been developed thanks to years of dancing tradition, whereas others make use of the latest innovations to aid the dancer in their craft. In this latter case, they resemble sports shoes, in the former they are quite unique. On account of this, dance shoes and the precise methods for taking care of them are very varied.

The level of care for dancing shoes naturally depends upon how much dancing is done in them. It is not uncommon, for example, for dancers to have a pair of shoes which they practice in and another which they perform in. The performance shoes, naturally, will only be occasionally worn and therefore require much less diligent care.

Of course, caring for dance shoes also shares a lot in common with caring for any other type of footwear. For example, dancers will still make use of a shoe deodorizer spray, replace insoles, and so on. Moreover, given the vigorous physical exertion which dancing shoes can sometimes come under, these duties might have to be completed far more often. ShoeFresh, a company producing shoe sprays for foot odor, advise that their products are often heavily in demand for the more vigorous types of dancing.

Different Kinds of Dance Shoes

So, having introduced the diversity of dance shoes, it’s time to look at some of the most famous among them.

Ballroom Shoes

Ballroom shoes – designed for the often loose but vigorous art of ballroom dancing – are attractive shoes designed to project a real elegance. They can be either classical or Latin American ballroom shoes. The difference lies in the heel, with classical ballroom shoes having a low heel for an even distribution of weight about the foot while Latin American ballroom shoes having a higher heel designed to put weight towards the toes.

Tap Shoes

Tap shoes are designed, of course, for tap dancing. And to create that distinctive clack that is so essential to the form, they have metal “taps” attached to the toe area. A thin fiberboard known as the soundboard is incorporated into the sole to really get that satisfying percussive noise.

Ballet Pointe Shoes

Ballet pointe shoes are not easy on the feet, and ballet dancers typically train for years before they get their first pair. As well as emphasizing the arch of the foot and providing a little hard protection around the toes, they are supposed to give the appearance of the dancer’s feet being seamless extensions of their legs.


Gillies are used for Scottish Highland and Irish dancing. They are made of leather that conforms to the shape of the foot. What makes them distinctive is the exceptionally long laces which extend some way up the leg when the shoes are laced up.

From foot thongs to dance sneakers and flamenco to jazz dancing shoes, there are many more besides the shoes we have covered here. Nonetheless, as this list has hopefully shown, dancing shoes are as beautiful and varied as the dancing itself.

Posted by Jane E. Ortiz

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