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Character Dance Shoes

Character dance is formally considered a type of classical ballet, but the movements are reminiscent of traditional European folk dancing. The shoes that are worn for character feature a small heel and a strap across the instep to secure the shoe to the foot. Style, color, and shoe height are all considerations when choosing character shoes.

How high should the heels be on character shoes?

Although the height of your shoes depends on several factors, many dancers choose 2.5 inches. However, dancers who want the appearance of a longer leg choose 3 inches. Consider these factors, which might influence your choice of shoe height:

  • Your choreography. Dancers who will be performing complex choreography involving a lot of turns and jumps might want to stick with a 2.5-inch heel. If you'll be doing a lot of walking and low footwork, a half-inch higher might work.
  • The time period. Note the time period in which your dance is set and aim for historical accuracy. A lower or higher heel might be more appropriate given the time period and setting.
  • Your strength and technical ability. Keep in mind that it's more challenging to dance with a higher heel. If you don't have the necessary ankle strength for a 3-inch heel, choose a lower shoe. You want to stay safe and appear strong. Choosing a shoe that's too high will affect your movement quality and draw attention to your weaknesses. Additionally, a shoe that's too high can increase your risk of injury.
How do you decide between a soft or hard sole?

Whether you wear them for a classic folk dance or for musical theater, your character shoes affect your performance. The choice of a soft or hard sole is a personal one. A dancer's shoes need to be flexible while offering critical foot and ankle support. Soft-soled character shoes allow for a more thoroughly pointed foot and smoother landing from jumps. On the other hand, a hard sole provides more support, lowering your risk of injury.

How do you extend the life of character shoes?

Character shoes can be costly, so you should take steps to preserve them.

  • Stay off the street. Avoid wearing your character shoes outdoors. The soles of character dance shoes are designed for use only onstage or in the studio because the bottoms of character shoes are not rubberized. As a result, the untreated leather bottoms of your shoes can be damaged by asphalt and concrete. However, their smooth leather soles allow you to move onstage without sticking.
  • Keep your character shoes dry. To extend the life of the soles and uppers of your character shoes, you'll need to keep your dance shoes away from rain, wet towels, sweaty clothes, and leaky water bottles.