Shoes have transcended functionality and have become an active fashion statement. They are no longer just a form of protection, but an essential part of our everyday attire. Heels, Keds, Uggs; they come in many styles and shapes and colours; some people even have an entire wardrobe dedicated just for shoes. For many centuries, different shoes were made for specific purposes like work shoes, dance shoes, mining shoes, factory boots and the like.
Dance shoes are perhaps the most culturally enriched footwear out there. Traditional dancers come with their dress code inspired by the culture they belong to; this extends to their shoes as well. Dance shoes are both functional for the dance as well as are symbolic of the land it originated from and its people. With many Australians exploring their take to dance forms, be it for health reasons or a cultural experience, it is essential to know about the very tool of the trade.
The Australian ballet is one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world; ballet has become one of the most popular forms of dances in Australia. Ballet shoes or slippers aid in making the different movements fluid and flawless. Canvas and satin are the fabrics commonly used to make ballet shoes. The soles of these shoes are thicker at the heel and the balls of the feet. The soles near the arch of the foot are thinner, allowing more flexible movements. These shoes either have elastic straps or satin ribbons to fasten it onto the dancer’s feet. Pointe Ballet shoes are available for more advanced ballet dancers. These help with movements that require balancing on the toes and add grace to the more intricate moves.
Another well-known dance form is tap dancing. Tap dancing uses the percussive sounds caused by the hitting of the shoe against a hard surface as the rhythm to the choreography. Tap dancing is all about the shoes. Tap shoes have a metal cap at the heel, and the arch of the shoe makes the distinct percussive sounds on the soundboard used by tap dancers.
Jazz style dancing is creating more and more interest in Australia for its music and history. Jazz dance teaches a lot of flowing movements to accentuate the breezy music. Jazz shoes can either have a split sole or a full sole. Jazz shoes come with a patch of suede near the bottom to augment the flowy moves of the dancer. The shoes are fastened traditionally with laces, but elastic models are also available.
Athletic Dancing Shoes
These look like regular sneakers but have a split sole to pull off those jumps and turns. Contemporary or freestyle dancers use these shoes. Athletic dancing shoes also provide maximum comfort to the feet, being entirely covered with pads to ensure maximum safety while performing the complex yet awe-inspiring moves of b-boying or shuffling.
Dancers use foot thongs when dancing barefoot. They are skin-coloured slip-on shoes which only cover the balls of the foot. These types of shoes are necessary for lyrical styles of dances which require more free-footed movements. They ensure that the skin of the foot doesn’t hurt while dancing and also protect the soles of our feet from friction.
Shoes, like clothes, were invented for covering a part of our body and protecting it from the environment. They too have evolved with generations of people improving upon its design, uses and style and continue to do so, even today. While modernization takes over the world of fashion footwear, it is dancing shoes that hold out as a relic from earlier times, still embodying a modernized culture.