Dance and culture are interrelated—many cultures use dance to tell a story, and the many steps often get passed down through the generations. Whether you’re looking to explore a new culture or find a fun new exercise routine, try out dance! Since there are various dance styles—ballet, jazz, Irish, hip hop, ballroom, etc.—that means there are also many types of shoes to go along with them. Before you settle on a dance style to learn, understand the different types of dancing shoes!
If you’re looking to start classic ballroom dancing or learn Latin dance, you will need a pair of ballroom shoes. These shoes differ depending on whether they’re for men, women, or for classical or Latin dance. Often, these have a heel, and women’s shoes have more height compared to men’s shoes.
Ballroom dance shoes come in various styles, materials, and colors, but in Latin ballroom dancing, one thing that remains the same—women’s shoes are usually open-toed, strappy, and apply pressure to the ball of the foot. Why are heels significant? It helps give the dancer better balance since the toe leads. It’s also important for the aesthetic since it elongates the dancer’s legs.
Tap shoes allow a dancer to make rhythmic sounds when their toe or heel hits the ground. This type of shoe has metal taps attached to the bottom to allow for these sounds. They’re quite similar to jazz shoes and often worn for jazz dancing.
Irish Dance Shoes
Typically used in traditional Irish dance, dancers wear either hard or soft shoes. Ghillies are a type of soft shoe that looks quite similar to ballet slippers—however, the lacing is different. While female dancers wear ghillies during many dances, boys wear shoes that look similar to jazz shoes and allow for rhythmic beats. Once a dancer gains experience, they graduate to hard dance shoes.
Men’s hard Irish dance shoes have fiberglass on the heel, allowing the dancer to make taps and other rhythms as they move their feet to the beat of the music.
As there are many different types of dancing shoes, those practicing jazz dance or individuals in musical theater often wear jazz shoes. Usually, this type of shoe does not have much of a heel and allows dancers to move around with ease, which is vital to the slick movements we see during jazz.
As a beginner, ballerinas use ballet slippers made of satin or leather with plenty of cushioning at the toe; however, as a dancer gets more advanced, they get to wear pointe shoes. Like ballet slippers, these have an elastic strap and laces, but this shoe allows them to walk and dance on their toes!