When you think of dance shoes, sneakers may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Dance sneakers are important for young children and adults who are just beginning with a particular style of dance. The extra support and snug fit helps prevent injuries and protect the most vulnerable parts of the foot that endure tremendous pressure during dance routines.
The common characteristics of a dance sneaker are a split sole that allows more flexibility when a dancer pivots on their toes, and either canvas, mesh, or suede uppers that move freely with the foot in motion. The benefit of these shoes is that dancers can learn complicated routines while protecting their feet from the strain and soreness often felt after long hours in more conventional shoes.
Most shoes of this type also have a PU midsole that acts as a shock absorber, and most sneakers have an elevated heel. Non-marking soles allow dancers to wear these shoes on any number of floor surfaces without worrying about generating scuffmarks.
Modern dance styles have created a market for sneakers that can be worn on stage. Jazz, contra dance, hip-hop, Latin, and aerobic dance adapt well to these shoes, since the styles and colors of the shoes themselves give costume designers lots of options. Zumba is another type of high-impact dance where the extra support provided by sneakers would be welcome.
It is reasonable to consider that cheerleaders and young ballet students would use dance sneakers as alternates when developing their bodies for greater strength and balance. School productions and community musicals that involve dance steps might incorporate sneakers to blend with modern styles and tastes while giving kids and adults a higher level of support for dancing.
Capezio, Bloch, and Shishi Tianshi are major brands that supply many different types of dance sneakers. The versatility between high-top and low-cut designs, as well as colors and materials allow these special sneakers to be used in a wide range of circumstances. Certain retail websites consider these shoes “dansneakers,” but they are, in effect, the same thing.
Two other factors in wearing sneakers for dance are both issues related to foot health. Dancers sometimes perform or practice barefoot on classroom floors, exposing themselves to bacteria and athletes’ foot, which are common among performers. Many dance enthusiasts also have bunions, corns, blisters, plantar fasciitis, hammertoes, and neuromas to deal with. The ability to wear dance shoes that easily adapt to arch supports and insoles are a welcome benefit.
Don’t assume that a good pair of dance shoes will solve all of your problems, though. Professional dancers and frequent performers take care of their feet, utilizing bandages, foot scrubs, pumice stones, and lotions to soothe, moisturize, and protect them. They use common sense, not doing too much too soon, or attempting long, difficult routines without practice and measured progress under supervision.
Most of all, they realize that dance sneakers are just one of many tools designed to help dancers perform well and stay healthy throughout their career.