How to choose the right dance shoes?

You've taken a trial class and caught the dance bug? It's probably time to think about your equipment and I suggest you start with your feet...

For dancers, it is important to choose the right outfit but also and especially the right shoes. 

Some are leather, some are canvas, some are full-sole, some are bi-sole... so which ones should you choose? Which shoes will dress your feet for a classical class? A Jazz class?

What to look for when choosing a pair of ballet shoes

Many dancers mistakenly think that any type of shoe can be used for dancing. In reality, it depends on the type of dance you will be doing. For example, ballroom dancers need smooth-soled shoes to be able to glide across the floor, while jazz dancers need hard-soled shoes to provide grip and stability when jumping and spinning.

If you are new to dance, it can be difficult to determine what type of shoes you need. Here are some tips to help you choose the right pair of dance shoes:

  1. Decide what type of dance you want to do.
  2. Think about the type of floor you will be dancing on.
  3. Choose comfortable, well-fitting shoes.
  4. Make sure the insoles are appropriate for the type of dancing you do.
  5. Try on several pairs of shoes before making a purchase.

When choosing a pair of dance shoes, the most important thing to look for is comfort. You're going to be spending a lot of time in these shoes, so you don't want something that will hurt your feet.

Finally, make sure the shoes fit properly. They should be snug, but not too tight, and they should have some room for your toes to move freely.

The different types of dance shoes available

There are several types of dance shoes on the market. The type of dance you will be doing will determine the type of shoe you need.

Which shoes for jazz dance?

In Jazz dance, there is, most of the time, no need for slippers. This dance is a blend of different cultures, particularly African, and has a preference for barefoot dancing. 

Moreover, dancing barefoot improves proprioception (perception, conscious or not, of the position of the different parts of the body and of our position in space). 

It also stimulates the sense of touch and improves awareness of the ground. 

But to avoid burns during turns and slipped steps, it is possible to equip the feet with pedilles, a half shoe that protects only the front part of the foot. There are different types of pedal shoes available today. In addition to half-slippers, you can find so-called "complete" pedals that cover the entire foot but do not become a slipper.

The pedals are generally flesh colored in order not to "break" the line of the instep which is an important artistic criterion in dance.

For those who do not like to have their feet in contact with the ground, don't panic! 

There are still shoes for jazz dance! 

These are Jazz boots, sheet metal or leather slippers, usually black with small heels. 

The boot allows to hold the ankle well, the heel allows not to solicit too much the tendons of Achilles during the movements. 

What about classical dance? 

When you think of ballet, you immediately think of pointe shoes. 

Pointe work is a ballet technique in which the dancer holds the arch of her foot on the edge of the rigid part of the shoe and keeps it in that position. She gives the impression that she is carrying her body weight on the ball of her foot while she is supporting the arch of her foot. Before going on pointe, the ballerinas must have muscular strength of the ankle and the foot as well as a sufficient technique before going on pointe. All this work is done over several years and on demi-pointes. In classical dance, it is essential to have dance shoes and half-pointes to prepare for the pointe. 

The half-point is worn from the earliest age. They also have for role to "go out the instep". 

The slippers are worn by both girls and boys. 

They are usually pink or beige for girls and gray or black for boys. Unlike Jazz dance, we do not dance barefoot in ballet.

And the shoe size in all this? 

The best thing to do is to try on your liner before you buy it. The foot fills the liner but is not tight. The half toes are equipped with elastics that tighten the foot in the liner.

Often during the fitting, the elastics are not sewn, it is thus necessary to keep it in head and to take care not to take too tight shoes. No elastic for the jazz boots, but laces.

Finally the best advice we can give you to choose well is to take the shoes that you like and that you feel good in 🙂 

Maintenance of your ballet shoes

Once you've chosen the right pair of dance shoes, it's important to take care of them so they last longer. Here are some tips:

  1. Always remove your shoes after dancing and store them in a cool, dry place.
  2. Do not wear your dance shoes outside - they are for indoor use only.
  3. Do not expose your shoes to excessive moisture or heat as this may cause them to warp or shrink.
  4. If your shoes are wet, stuff them with newspaper and let them dry naturally.
  5. When your shoes start to show signs of wear, take them to a professional shoemaker for repair or replacement.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your dance shoes last for many years!

My advice as a teacher?

Generally, for children just starting to dance, but for adult beginners, it is often advisable to wear full-sole shoes. The full sole provides better balance. The good stability it offers when working "flat" allows for efficient work of the foot strike. The bi-sole shoes are generally worn by dancers who already have a good technical control. Once the sole is chosen, the choice of the material comes next.

  • Leather shoes provide better stability. They are soft but quite strong and will last for many years. However, it is important to choose your size carefully when you want to buy leather shoes because they do not really adapt to the shape of the foot and are less flexible than canvas shoes.
  • Canvas slippers offer dancers greater freedom of movement. They relax more easily than leather shoes and adapt to the shape of the foot. They are flexible and therefore more "fragile". They will wear out quickly due to foot work and will need to be changed more often. It is possible to wash them in the washing machine unlike leather slippers.

Whether leather or canvas, the slippers do not have a right or left foot. It is not possible to put them on backwards during the test!

The Wellness expert for Oktofit :



I have been dancing since I was 4 years old, I followed the teacher's course at Studio Harmonic in Paris and I currently teach in the East of France.