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3 Types of Shoes for Modern Dancing

5 min read

Modern dance combines several styles at once. Looking closely, you will notice elements of ballet, classical dances, jazz, and even oriental martial arts. The main thing in such a dance is self-expression through fast movements and plasticity, which goes almost beyond the limits of human capabilities. Many elements require a firm grip on the floor and constant control of contact with the ground. That is why dancers usually perform barefoot. However, there are specialized shoes for contemporary dance, which do not restrict your movements, but at the same time, protect against possible injuries. You will learn how to choose such footwear from this article.

Why You Need Special Shoes

Modern dance is a unique style that requires complete dedication (both emotional and physical) from artists. Its distinguishing feature is that dancers usually alternate between sharp, tense movements with sudden relaxation of muscles, falls with rises and high jumps, abrupt stops (often on straight legs), and balancing on the tips of their toes. The dancers’ skills are a synthesis of various contemporary dance techniques.

To help artists perform all these complex movements, brands offer special shoes. Although there are no strict requirements for dancers’ clothing and footwear in modern dance, you should take care of your own safety. Reliable and high-quality shoes (even though they differ in shape from regular shoes and sneakers) give sufficient support for the feet and, at the same time, provide a reliable grip on the floor.

Types of Modern Dance Shoes

The criteria for choosing footwear for Latin or European dances are quite straightforward. But how to find the right shoes for modern dancing, and what to look for when trying them on? To get started, you need to know there are three main models that you can choose from depending on the characteristics of your performances and your comfort:

  • dance socks (not to be confused with everyday socks);
  • half-sole shoes;
  • foot thongs.

Based on the names, you can understand that they cover the feet differently. The first is maximally closed; the second is maximally open. Which of them do you need?

Dance socks

As we wrote above, it is better not to dance in regular socks to avoid injury. However, modern manufacturers have begun making special socks that support your joints and give a good grip on smooth surfaces. They have a compression effect, that is, they gently massage your feet, increasing your endurance. Moreover, they are padded and perfectly absorb shocks from jumps, reducing the leg load. These socks are made of modern materials that wick moisture away and are coated with antibacterial agents.

As with regular shoes, when choosing dance socks, you need to pay attention to the size. Since they have compression properties, they pull the foot slightly more than regular ones. That is why professionals advise choosing products one size larger, especially if you have wide feet or ankles. You may just be experiencing some discomfort due to the compression; Then, you also need to choose a larger size. When trying on, make sure all toes touch the floor when you stand straight.

Half-sole shoes

In some dance styles, most of the movements are performed on the toes. Modern dance also applies to them. That is why many dancers opt for models that only half cover the feet, leaving the heels open. They are somewhat reminiscent of pointe shoes, but unlike the latter, they do not have hard inserts.

It is believed that such models are more aesthetic, as they reveal the beautiful curves of the dancers’ feet. At the same time, they are held on the heels by straps, which, if worn frequently, can stretch and lose their elasticity, aggravated by the so-called “disappearing heel.” When buying, be sure to pay attention that the straps have a silicone coating on the inside. It prevents slipping and securely fixes shoes on the heel.

Half-sole shoes, like dance socks, should fit snugly around the foot. At the same time, you should not buy such models a size larger because they stretch a little during wear and begin to hang out on the leg. It, in turn, can lead to discomfort and injury.

Foot thongs

They are sometimes also called dance paws. They are small pieces of leather or durable fabric with many straps. They intertwine with each other and form holes for all toes. They keep your toes and heels free, giving you a great floor feel and providing the balls of your feet with extra support. Thanks to the soft pads, you can land softly on the floor after jumps and not rub blisters during long sessions. The fabric from which such shoes are made is rubberized, which means it does not slip on smooth surfaces.

Even such shoes have a size guide, so when choosing the right model, you can focus on the size of your everyday shoes. Try on the product before buying, and make sure that the straps do not tighten the fingers too much, disrupting blood circulation and hindering free movement.


Many manufacturers produce two types of modern dance shoes: with and without traction. In this case, traction means floor grip. This factor may be important depending on the flooring you are planning to dance on. You don’t need traction if your classroom has a carpet or some other fleecy floor covering. You cannot do without a reliable grip if the floor is perfectly even and smooth. Keep in mind that over time, the traction on the socks loses its original qualities and needs to be refreshed. There are specialized sprays that support the characteristics you need.

Try Every Type to Choose the Most Suitable One

Modern dance is not only the right movements but also your personal emotions. Choose a shoe type that allows you to express yourself freely. To do it, experts recommend trying different models in real conditions. It is the only way to choose the one that suits you best. Light and free improvisations are possible only when the shoes provide comfort and support to the feet.

Please share your experience of choosing modern dance shoes in the comments. Which type do you like best and why? How did you find your ideal model?

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