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  1. #1
    Master BHUZzer Bahtya's Avatar
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    Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    This is a serious question. I notice some dancers wear heels and others are barefoot. Why do some dancers wear shoes? And if you do wear them, are you always dancing on the balls of your feet or can your weight be evenly distributed? Or does it have to do with a certain style?

    Tell me your own reasons and preferences. I am curious.


  2. #2
    Mega BHUZzer maliaraqs's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I have one restaurant I wear them in because the floors are quite dirty. I also bring them with me to private parties in case they surprise me with a grass or concrete dance floor! Everywhere else I dance barefoot.

    And I much prefer no shoes since I have better balance barefoot and can more easily do level changes. That being said, leather-soled heels do make spins easier on wood floors.


  3. #3
    Ultimate BHUZzer laura 2's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Dancing in shoes definitely throws my weight and balance off. There are certain moves I have to be very careful about doing in heels (like the big hip circle where your hands sweep the floor). And since I wear ballroom shoes, there are some floor/stage conditions where I find the suede bottoms stick atrociously (scuffed up plywood, or linoleum flooring on a humid day) and it's like trying to choo-choo shimmy on sandpaper.

    I love how they look with a beautiful costume, though. Bare feet and a gorgeously beaded and elegant costume seem kind of mismatched to me - I think a nice pair of heels really compliments the glamorous look. And as a "fun sized" dancer, I can really use the extra height. So I still try to dance with them when I'm familiar with the floor surface at the venue.


  4. #4
    Established BHUZzer yaalini's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I wear shoes when performing, almost always. Now, they're not ballroom shoes, just simple ballet canvas shoes.

    They help protect my feet from dirt, glass, beads, rocks, hot stages (one Ren Fair performance had no shading on a wooden stage - I would have had burns on my feet were it not for shoes!) and other floor hazards. Not 100% of course - if I step on rocks or glass I'd still get cut, but not nearly as badly.

    I agree that glam costumes can look a little off with bare feet. But I'm not comfortable dancing in heels. I'm on ball all the time, but it's low-ball - in hard shoes you can hear my heels hit the ground...


  5. #5
    Advanced BHUZzer jengal55's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I dance in shoes almost all the time now, but mainly to protect my feet. Restaurant floors aren't always the safest for bare feet. I bought ballroom shoes so I feel like it distributes my weight really well, and I like how tall they make me feel- I am a shorty!

    I did have to get used to the change in the range of hip motion. It actually forced me to stretch out my side muscles more for mayas and what not. ..g.:


  6. #6
    Master BHUZzer amarasdance's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I started wearing shoes because I got a restaurant job. The restaurant I dance in doesn't have a stage, so it's all dancing around tables. I don't want to step on a knife, someone's dropped hummus, or anything else yucky or dangerous. And since I like my skirts grazing the floor, it brings them up off the floor for the restaurant, which keeps them in better shape. Especially in MN winter, where everyone who comes in is tracking in snow, ice-melt chemicals and salt from the street- I don't want to step in it, and I don't want it on my costumes. I don't know if there are any health code issues with a barefoot dancer- they don't allow barefoot customers (I think there's a thread about this, actually).

    I do like the look of shoes- I feel very glamorous in my fancy shoes. I am also "fun-sized" - more hobbit-sized, actually, so I like the height. But yes, it does throw my balance off. I greatly prefer to dance barefoot, and at most other performances, I don't wear shoes. My 2 1/4" heels throw my balance off less than the 3" heels do, but it's much easier with no shoes, for me, at least.


  7. #7
    Master BHUZzer nasila's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    There was a period when most dancers in Egypt wore shoes - it became very "in" - because it showed that a dancer could afford the shoes. Now generally in Egypt dancers tend to go barefoot.

    I don't like wearing shoes, but you have to protect your feet. Heels make some dance moves/styles look incredibly dorky (like Saidi!) and I don't like the look of them at all, so I've been wearing tan ballet shoes when dancing on any questionable surface. They are not particularly pretty, but they beat holes in your feet while allowing for maximum range of motion.

    I do wear ballroom shoes (just 1.5" heels) to dance with my partner, however, and I noticed it's easier to do low level changes with them than without.
    Last edited by nasila; 03-15-2009 at 05:19 PM.


  8. #8
    Master BHUZzer Souzan's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I wear ballet slippers or jazz shoes in class and at workshops. The soles are flexible enough that you can feel the floor through them. For performing it is usually Pedinis or sometimes for the barefoot look I wear full sole foot undeez that cover ball of the foot and the heel. Especially on a stage where the dancer before may have left some glass beads underfoot.

    Souzan


  9. #9
    Official BHUZzer Nabila-Nazem's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I wear shoes for all of the above reasons stated, but also because I have to. I have a leg-length discrepancy, and going barefoot causes sacrum misalignment, putting me at risk for significant back and lower limb issues. I have to have all my shoes, both dance and street shoes, fixed in some way to adjust for this. I wear shoes both to perform in and for class, and I wear one appropriate-height slipper on my short leg when barefoot or in socks at home.

    With all of the various shoes Capezio alone puts out, let alone all the others so many dance shoe companies put out now for ballroom, salsa, tap, modern, and hip-hop, I haven't had a problem finding glamorous-looking but fairly low (and sturdy) heels in finishes or unnoticeable neutrals to suit any costume I might ever wear.

    Good shoes are not cheap, but they are well worth the price.


  10. #10
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Heels do change your balance, but I quite like dancing in them. If you have a decent pair, ie ballroom shoes, you can place your weight on your heels, so you don't have to be on your balls all the time. You also want a shoe that is not so high that you can't go into a higher releve while wearing them, and dance shoes will have a flexible enough sole that you can do that without losing the shoe.

    I like a shoe with a T-strap or ankle strap. I have a high instep and a high releve and shoes don't like to stay on otherwise.

    I love to dance in them. I go through phases.


  11. #11
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    As others have said, I sometimes wear them for protection and for the extra glam look with the costuming.

    It is a bit of a style thing. Typically, Turkish and Lebanese dancers wear high heeled (sometiemes ridiculously high-heeled) shoes.

    Egyptian dancers go both ways. I'm told Farida Fahmy came down hard on at least one American workshop class because many of them didn't have shoes. Farida, for those who don't know, was Mahmoud Reda's star dancer, and I also remember hearing that at Reda workshops you'll burn your feet up in a few hours if you don't have some kind of footwear, because of all the turns and direction changes.

    So, in Eygptian style, if you're being specific, I'd say bare feet are appropriate for Beledi, Ghawazee etc. but if you're doing Reda-style Sharki some kind of shoe is more 'authentic' and maybe even necessary. I think the majority of the raks sharki dancers in Eygpt are barefoot most of the time, Golden Era through modern, but I'd need backup on that...

    It is absolutely easier to spin and pivot in shoes with a suede sole made for dancing.

    Yes, it's possible to lift up the heel OR drop weight into it, but if you have a high heel it feels very different at first and takes some getting used to.

    I teach in low-heel teacher shoes (because I do it so many hours a week and my studio floors are hard, I need the cushioning for my joints). So wearing a 2" cuban heel ballroom shoe isn't a giant leap for me. Sometimes I dance in a pair of gold-painted teacher sandals, or ballet slippers. Sometimes barefoot. Depends on the length of my costume skirt, the venue flooring, and the overall look I'm after.


  12. #12
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    p.s. I wear them in the restaurant always. It's a health thing. No one else would walk around a restaurant with bare feet -- not customers or staff -- and it would seem a little gross if they did. To me.

    The restaurant manager where I dance likes us to be very aware that it's a restaurant first, dance venue second. We're not allowed to toss our hair, either.


  13. #13
    Advanced BHUZzer SuzanneAzhaar's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Shoes, shoes, shoes. Steep learning curve~ have a wonderful video from thirteen years ago of handsome firemen taking care of my feet with the flesh burned off from a very hot stage.

    If you attend a class, ask the ladies what their local resource is. Also try Capezzio's on line.

    Capezio Dance Brands :: Footwear :: Lyrical, Modern, Gym

    This is just the beginning. Make sure you practice in whatever shoe you chose. If your studio has hardwood floors, speak with your instructor before purchasing heels. There may be a policy against heels worn on their hardwoods.


  14. #14
    Advanced BHUZzer SummerSahar's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Ladies, I think I have a solution for the shoe vs no shoe dilemma:



  15. #15
    Established BHUZzer Kash13's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Summer, those are truly hideous!

    I hate dancing in shoes, even ballet flats, I don't like the way my toes get restricted. But I am trying to train myself to wear them as sometimes my troupe dance on dodgy surfaces.


  16. #16
    Established BHUZzer ghazallah's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Well, somebody above beat me to it, but I'll just throw in that some of us have deformed feet for one reason or another and need the support whatever we're doing.

    I always wear shoes. The only time I'm barefoot is when I'm asleep or in the shower.


  17. #17
    Established BHUZzer LeylaFahada's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I've never tried heels, but I have a pair each of ballet flats in metallic gold and silver. They are flexible, blend in the the costumes and don't change my dancing too much. I got them at Target!

    After stepping on a lit cigarette (and I was wearing the foot undeez kinda things at the time) and burning myself badly, I'm not too keen on being barefoot anymore, though I do prefer it.


  18. #18
    Master BHUZzer zamora's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    i avoided this thread yesterday, but ok.
    i/we do not waer shoes due to earth/spirtual reasons.we bring a brpoom if following a mess on a stges.we dance barefoot at ren faire too, but that is on grass in the gypsy camp, at our encampment.


  19. #19
    Advanced BHUZzer NancyAsiya's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Summer- I think I'm going to have nightmares about those things chasing me!! lol

    I am usually wearing some sort of foot wear. When I was doing Tribal stuff I had jazz shoes for outdoor events and gymnast slippers for indoors. I wear the slippers for class when its on hardwood floors, keep the toes warm and I don't get stuck to the floor as my feet warm up.

    I only recently started dancing in heels, turned out it wasn't as difficult as I though it would be. They are about 1 1/2" inches high so just enough to keep me from stepping on the hem of my skirt but not enough that it bothers my knees (I get bursitis below my right knee).


  20. #20
    Advanced BHUZzer elisagamal's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    the very first time I performed in a restaurant I cut my foot on a broken bugle bead. I've worn shoes ever since. restaurant floors are GROSS, and often we have to change in the back and walk through the kitchen... ick. I've seen dancers blister their feet on hot stages at outdoor festivals. I've been hired to do bellygrams at machine shops, an auto dealer garage, a fish packing plant, construction sites, hospitals, a baseball field, grocery stores, swimming pools, on grass, on the bow of a tippy boat, in the middle of the street...

    the bulk of my dancing is not on nice clean well-swept theater stages, so for me shoes are an absolute must for protection. I will certainly dance barefoot of the surface is suitable, although sometimes I'll wear shoes anyway to keep my toes from getting caught in my skirts.

    I wanted to add that there are a lot of choices between barefoot and heels, and even between ballet slippers and heels. I've worn hermes sandals for over 15 years. they work with cabaret or folkloric and on any surface, especially if you have them resoled with smooth leather. and you can order ballroom shoes with low chunky heels that are almost like dancing in flats, but with all the glam still. you can also order them with street soles instead of suede to make them more versatile. tina sargent of centerstage dance can custom order shoes for you in dozens of styles, hundreds of fabrics, many heel heights, and with street or suede soles - for a great price! she has a thread going in the retail swap meet page - check it out. :)


  21. #21
    Master BHUZzer nasila's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    I'm told Farida Fahmy came down hard on at least one American workshop class because many of them didn't have shoes.
    This could be more cultural. Feet are "dirty" to many, so if you're not on stage you should be wearing shoes. Most dance troupes of all types seem to require some kind of footwear also.

    Off to check out Tina's stuff...


  22. #22
    Master BHUZzer Sonja2's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Restaurant feet made me get shoes too. I kind of like them, now!


  23. #23
    Established BHUZzer Candi's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Quote Originally Posted by nasila View Post
    This could be more cultural. Feet are "dirty" to many, so if you're not on stage you should be wearing shoes. Most dance troupes of all types seem to require some kind of footwear also.
    ...
    Its a class thing. This happened when Farida Fahmy taught over here too. She was horrified at all of us in bare feet. Only low class dancers have bare feet apparently according to what she said.

    I do dance in shoes sometimes but I prefer bare feet-its what you get used to. I don't dance in shoes enough for it to feel natural.


  24. #24
    Advanced BHUZzer CalgaryBibi's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I almost always wear shoes (usually metallic dance flats that I buy from our local bellydance store). I wear shoes for several reasons.

    1. Right where my baby toes meet the bottoms of my feet, I will develop splits in the skin if my feet experience much friction. I will suddenly feel as if I have glass in my foot, and when I look, there will be basically an open wound at the base of my baby toe. Not only does that hurt, but it also leaves me more vulnerable to infection or disease.

    2. I consider bare feet in public places to be very unsanitary. My daughter got a plantar's wart (I've had one, too, in the past, and they're not easy to get rid of). Hers developed into a colony, and she had to go for multiple, painful liquid nitrogen treatments with a dermatologist. When that didn't work, the derm. prescribed Aldara, a medication usually used on genital warts. It increases the area's resistance to the wart virus. It worked after several weeks, but it was very expensive ($185 for one month's worth). Ringworm is another concern. Ringworm spores can live in any kind of ordinary dirt, even small amounts of dirt on sidewalks or tracked in by shoes or boots, and they're microscopic. It's not as if someone can just look at their shoes and know there's something on them. These spores can be dormant for a long time until they are reactivated by moisture--even sweat on feet. So I prefer to always have something on my feet in public places. I even wear beach shoes on the pool deck and in the showers at the pool where I work out. To me, barefeet in public places are gross and unsanitary.

    3. As others have mentioned, we dance at all kinds of venues, and most of the time we aren't on nice, freshly washed stages. We might be in a community hall, where every else is walking with their shoes (think ringworm spores), on a street, in a park (dog poop, anyone?), on grass both wet and dry, on a sidewalk, in a restaurant or a banquet room (carpet (friction) with food spills, etc.). We've even been in festival tents that had puddles in the grass or, once, was awash in mud, with canvases spread over the mud (which ended up being tracked all over the canvaes). And, as others have mentioned, even a stage may have dropped beads, coins, etc. that can cut the feet or just plain hurt to step on.

    4. When I dance, I sweat. A lot. To me, sweaty feet are less secure and stable than shoes. I might slip if my feet are both sweaty and bare.


  25. #25
    Advanced BHUZzer stardancer's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I wear ballroom shoes with a 2 1/2 or 3" heel. I hate having my feet covered with black goo from the restaurant floors and constantly worrying what I might step on. Also the heels make my legs look longer and sexier. It wasn't hard to get used to wearing them. Ballroom dancers usually do a lot more footwork than we do. If they can dance in them then I sure as hell can too.....lol.


  26. #26
    Advanced BHUZzer nisaasaintlouis's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I nearly always dance in either dance slippers (Capezio Foot Undeez or something similar) or ballroom shoes. On a clean stage, which kind of footwear I choose usually depends on the costume I'm wearing. If I'm in a fancy gown it seems strange to me to not have nice shoes on.

    At other events where I can't be sure of the cleanliness of the floor I wear heeled shoes...but if it's a really gross floor I'll choose street shoes over my ballroom shoes because yucky floors (i.e. floors with liquid spills, etc.) are murder on suede soles.

    I always tell my students that your dance life depends on your feet...I learned my lesson the first time I got a chunk of glass embedded in my foot while dancing barefoot on a FILTHY restaurant carpet (DUMB).


  27. #27
    Advanced BHUZzer phillyraqs's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Besides the grossness of dancing barefoot on groddy restaurant floors, I am too lazy to paint my toenails on a regular basis!

    I practice in split soled jazz shoes, it keeps my feet in better shape - not as tired, more support, easier to turn.


  28. #28
    Established BHUZzer LeylaFahada's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    Quote Originally Posted by phillyraqs View Post
    Besides the grossness of dancing barefoot on groddy restaurant floors, I am too lazy to paint my toenails on a regular basis!

    I practice in split soled jazz shoes, it keeps my feet in better shape - not as tired, more support, easier to turn.
    Haha, I was going to add the same thing. I save a fortune in unpainted toes!


  29. #29
    Master BHUZzer zamora's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    I am too lazy to paint my toenails on a regular basis!
    that is so cute!


  30. #30
    Advanced BHUZzer TexasRuya's Avatar
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    Re: Dancing in shoes, why and how?

    One night & two gigs cured me of being a barefoot dancer. The floor of a bar behind a VFW followed by a huge private party dancing on the pebble concrete poolside, it painfully poking the absolute living tar out of my feet. I had beaded slides w/me & finally went & put those back on & finished out the night like that. In that instance no one seemed to notice or care and I was much happier as a result.

    There's so much yuck on floors (think about what people's shoes step in & then track across it, even just small bits) I just can't do barefoot anymore.

    I currently wear Aruba's Oasis sandals w/leather sole & they're great. I wasn't sure about the style at first, but I really like them a lot & they're comfortable. No problems so far in doing any movements or traveling steps. I dance on the ball of my foot as well as flat footed, depending on what I'm doing.
    Last edited by TexasRuya; 03-18-2009 at 01:46 AM.


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