Belly Dancers..If The Shoe Fits
Belly dancers perform in a variety of settings, and choosing a shoe becomes just as important as selecting a costume—and maybe more so. If you are merely putting on shoes in order to
meet your audience in between belly dance performances or after a performance,
you probably can choose any type of shoe that would match your costume. You can
choose a simple, comfortable shoe or a very extravagant, jeweled or gilded one
that suits your costume, your style of dance, or the formality of the event at
which you are dancing.
However, if you intend to dance in a shoe, there are several things you should consider before you go shopping.
What's the shoe's purpose?
· Protection from foreign substances?
· Must it be a solid foundation for dancers?
· Will you be making quick turns or pivots?
· Will you be dancing in these?
If you dance or rehearse a lot, may consider shoes made specifically for dancers or ones that are very well-fitted. You don't want to risk a foot or ankle injury because your shoe
slid on the stage or your ankle turned in the shoe. On the other hand if you are anything like HipMix.net's twitter follower @youthbellydance you'll go sans shoes. "No shoes for us, we like the connection we feel with the earth.
Most dancers who switch to shoes usually start with a sandal of some kind. Some dancers just use a lyrical shoe or a foot thong that only protects the ball of the foot. These foot coverings do not cover the entire foot and can leave the heel and arch open to injury. Soraya Internationally reknown professional Middle Eastern Dancer in N.J said “I don't like wearing shoes, but if I must, I choose Capezio half-soles."
There are many flat soled sandals available with large leather straps or delicate leather laces. One popular type is the “Hermes” or "Greek sandal" with a thong between
the big toe and the second toe and leather laces that wrap around your ankles.
Another barefoot fan Tarryn Rego, a belly dance performer and teacher from South Africa adds “We prefer barefoot, but the shoes we use mostly are leather Greek sandals"
Some prefer South Asian Khussa shoes, usually made of satin or leather with traditional Ropa beading. These have no right or left shoe so they will fit either foot and will mold to your
foot as you wear them. Your toes should also fit snugly to the tip of the shoe. Another type of sandal is the Scottish Ghillie. These are flat soled, tongue-less shoes that lace up, with
the laces wrapping around the ankles. They usually just come in black or tan.
Ballet Type Slippers
Some dancers like Dawn, a belly dancer from the UK move right into ballet type slippers, which come in leather, canvas, and silk. "I wear ballet slippers so my feet don't get black and it doesn't hurt so much if I step on a bead or sequin fallen from someone's
belt" Dawn adds.
Most ballet slippers come in either a full sole or split
sole. Full soles may offer more resistance to a dance surface than a split sole, especially for inexperienced dancers. The split sole, however, offers a more flattering line of the foot when the toe is pointed.
Leather dance shoes are better for dancing on wood floors than canvas or silk because they provide more traction. Leather will stretch during use so they should fit snugly. Canvas or silk shoes often have more pleats in them and will accommodate a wider foot, but they should fit a bit looser than a leather shoe.
A surprise answer came to us from AJ Reardon, a belly dancer from Tuscon, Arizona. “I
prefer (dancing) barefoot. If I need shoes for health/safety, I wear a pair of Vibram
Five Fingers moccasins."
UK's Turkish belly dancer Melisa Yavas, stands tall and glides beautifully in heels "Yes I do, I
wear them for health and safety and I also love them!" Dancers who switch
to heels usually start out with a small 1” heel and work their way up to a higher one.
Often, these are what are called character shoes or ballroom dance shoes. They have 2-2 ½ inch heels that are thicker than a street shoe and sometimes are slightly wider at the bottom of the heel than at the top. These shoes come in a variety of styles and colors and are usually very durable.
Switching To Shoes
If you are used to the stability of your own feet, dancing in shoes may take some getting used to. Always rehearse in the shoes you have chosen for your costume. If possible,
rehearse in the space you will use for your performance. That way, you will be
able to see how your shoes react to the flooring and whether there are any
Make sure that your shoes fit comfortably but snugly. This insures that you will have confident control when you dance and will lessen the chance for injury or blisters. You can also have a shoemaker cover the bottoms of your dance shoes with a non-stick surface that
Whatever your choice in dance footwear, you can be assured that your precious feet will be
protected and will continue to be the stable foundation you need as a dancer. Chime into the HipMix.net Belly Dancer Poll: What Shoes Do You Prefer?