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The History of Dance Shoes

Posted by Tina Lee on

The History of Dance Shoes

The History of Dance Shoes

If the clothes make the man, the shoes make the dancer. Showing off your fancy footwork will require a special pair of shoes. That’s what dance shoes are for. 

Modern dance shoes come in various styles and most styles are geared toward certain dance forms. You have ballet shoes for ballet dancing, tap shoes for tap dancing, and ballroom dance shoes for Latin or ballroom dancing!

A Look Back at Dance Shoes’ History


The concept of dance shoes may seem like a contemporary one but it’s in fact, a very old tradition that started way back in 18th century Europe. 

Special shoes for dancing was conceptualized during the height of ballroom dancing’s popularity in European courts from the 16th century to the 19th century. Back then, only the most affluent families would attend these social gatherings wearing the most elaborate ensemble. Of course, since these events involve hours of dancing, attendees would wear special dance shoes that tend to match the fancy threads. 

As ballet started emerging in the European courts and theatrical performances, dancers began wearing a special type of dancing shoes, heel-less slipper-like shoes that were made specifically for ballet dancing. Before these dance shoes became popular, male and female dancers would wear the same heeled shoes.

By late 1800, only wealthy women would wear heeled dancing shoes at fancy parties while the heel-less ballet shoes became the norm amongst ballet dancers. The iconic design of the modern ballet shoes that we know today was based on the design of the heel-less dance shoes that were a hit in the age of the Renaissance.

 

Ballroom and Latin Dance Shoes’ History

Ballroom shoes are categorized into Classic ballroom and Latin-American ballroom shoe styles. Between these styles, Classic ballroom dance shoes tend to have lower heels for even weight distribution. 

Because Latin dance demands a combination of fiery footwork and tightly choreographed routines to evoke sensuality and passion, it requires a special type of dancing shoes. In its earliest history, Latin dancers wore heeled shoes made with suede soles. The suede soles allow the dancers to glide and slide on the dance floor without falling. 

Traditional Latin Dance Shoe Design

Unlike conventional shoes, Latin dance shoes are more flexible to allow freedom of movement on the dance floor. The shoes are often padded to protect the feet from straining and injuries. The soles are meant to grip the dance floor while the heels are designed for gliding, spinning, and tapping. 

The male dancers would often wear lace-up dance shoes made from leather with an inch of heel or so. Women, on the other hand, would wear open-toed pumps or heeled sandals with straps. The height of the heels vary but generally, Latin ballroom shoes have higher heels compared to European ballroom dance shoes. 

For the ladies, the dance shoes have heels that are up to 3 inches in height while men’s Latin dance shoes have 2-inches heels. The shoes’ arch is higher than classical ballroom dance shoes to ease toe leads and hip movements. This design is meant to put the weight of the wearer on the toes rather than spreading the weight evenly across the foot.

Modern Latin Dance Shoe Designs

Latin dance shoes also come in an array of styles, most are designed to match the slinkiest party dresses. In the current Latin scene, dance shoes have evolved into a fashion statement, a stylish accessory that complements the social dancing environment of Latin dance. The shoe designs are never bland, often gleaming with sparkly hardware to match the spiciest outfits. 

Sleek, strappy dance shoes are also popular in Latin dance because the style complements the sultry music and choreography. These designs are very similar to normal heels except they’re made for dancing! 

As far as the heel height goes, the choices are endless. You can find Latin dance shoes in a dizzying array of heights, heel widths, and styles, there is something for everyone. 

Whatever look you’re going for, comfort and fit are two things that you should prioritize when shopping for dance shoes. Feel the Yami difference with every step, our stylish dance shoes give you the perfect fit for total freedom of movement on and off the dance floor.