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All About Ballet Shoes
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Choose the Perfect Ballet Shoe

The golden rule of choosing dance shoes whatever the style of dance is comfort. This is absolutely essential in order to ensure you give your best possible performance. In ballet, having a comfortable pair of ballet shoes is no less important than any other style of dance.

With such a wide variety of ballet shoes available, it can often be very confusing knowing which ones to choose – especially if you’re just about to start learning. There is a plethora of styles available and if you’re a novice, you need to make sure that you choose the right ones. Most dance schools have a uniform and it’s highly likely that your ballet teacher will require you to buy a particular pair of ballet shoes so it’s best to talk to them first. For those of you who want to get a head start or don’t have a uniform, here is a helpful guide to make sure you choose the best ballet shoes for you!

Step 1: Type of Ballet Shoes

Soft Ballet Shoes

There are two different types of soles available with soft ballet shoes – split sole and full sole.

Full Sole:

  • Reaches from the toe right down to the heel without a breakfull sole -1
  • Offers the extra support required by beginners
  • Encourages the foot to work harder in order to achieve “pointe”. Over time, this will develop and strengthen the muscles in the arch of the foot enough to allow the dancer to progress to split sole ballet shoes.

Split Sole:

  • Has a break in between the ball of the foot and the heelSplit sole-2
  • Provides more flexibility of the foot
  • Gives a much nice line which can help result in a more polished performance.

 

Once you have progressed to the split sole ballet shoe, you are just one step away from advancing to the pointe shoe. This type of shoe has a different structure to the soft ballet ballet shoes - pointe shoe construction shoes discussed in this article. They have a “box” and “shank” which together support the dancer’s foot allowing them to stand on the  tips  of their toes and move around the performance space as though weightless. This highly rewarding skill takes many years of hard work and  commitment.

 

 

 

 

 

Pointe Shoes

 Demi Pointe:

Demi pointe have some features of both the soft ballet shoe and the full pointe shoe:demi-pointe-3

  • The toe box is softer and the sides or ‘wings are not as deep as in a pointe shoe
  • Demi pointe shoes have no shank so are more flexible and do not have the support required for pointe work
  • Demi pointe shoes are used to make the transition from soft to pointe shoes, but should not be used for ‘en-pointe’ performances.

Pointe:

Pointe shoes vary in size and fit to suit individuals, but all have the same internal structure: Pointe -5

  • the box is a hard enclosed space at the end of the shoe, designed to support the toes
  • the end of the box is flattened  to create a platform enabling dancers to stand ‘en pointe’
  • the shank is a piece of rigid material which provides support for the arch of the foot whilst ‘en pointe’
  • most pointe shoes are only made in flesh colours, so that the dancer almost appears as though they are performing barefoot

Step 2: Type of Fabric

The next thing to consider is the fabric from which ballet shoes are made. The vast majority and most popular ballet shoes are manufactured from leather and canvas though satin ballet shoes are also available which are very attractive. Though ballet looks very dainty and delicate, ballet classes require a lot of endurance and your ballet shoes will need to be equally hard wearing

Satin:Satin -6

  • The most aesthetically pleasing appearance
  • Ideal for special occasions
  • Lacks any give therefore is unable to stretch and mold to the shape of your foot.

Canvas:Canvas - 7

  • fairly durable and will outlast most pairs of satin shoes several times over
  • will retain their shape
  • can sometimes snag and form holes
  • they are machine washable making them easy to maintain
  • Some dancers also feel that they allow them to better feel the surface of the floor through the shoe than other fabrics.

Leather:leather - 8

  • hard wearing therefore will usually last much longer than any other of fabric
  • they require the dancer’s foot to work harder to stretch which helps develop the strength of the muscles in the feet and legs
  • More expensive than canvas or satin.

If you’re not sure which ballet shoes to choose, leather is almost always the best choice. However, if you’re not ready to spend that little bit of extra cash just yet, it’s a good idea to start off with a pair of canvas ballet shoes. If you decide that you enjoy ballet classes, then you can always buy a pair of leather ballet shoes when your canvas ones need replacing. Remember though, before you go out and buy any ballet shoes, check with your teacher to see whether there are any particular shoes they recommend.

Step 3: Try the Ballet Shoes on!ballet shoes -  try fit

Once you have decided on your chosen fabric and type of sole, you will be getting close to finding the right pair of ballet shoes. Before you make your final choice you will need to try them on.

  • Put on your ballet shoe
  • put your leg out straight forward with the toe pointed forward and touching the floor
  • Is there ample space for a good pinch at the back of this foot?
  • Is there enough room for the toes to wriggle around a little but not enough space for the foot to move around inside the shoe?

If the toes are jammed into the end of the shoe, then you need to go for a bigger size.

Step 4: Consider the Elastics

Finally, you need to consider the elastics. Most ballet shoes come with elastics included but they may not be attached. This is because every dancer has slightly different shaped feet which means that the elastics need to be in a slightly different position. Some beginner shoes come with the elastics pre-attached which is great for novices. If the elastics you choose aren’t attached then it’s important to attach them to ensure that they offer your ankles better support and protection.

To do this;

  • Place your ballet shoe on a flat surface with the sole facing down.ballet shoes -  fix elastic 1
  • Keeping the sole of the ballet shoe flat, fold down the heel of the shoe against the lining, and on the outer side of the shoe use a pencil to lightly mark where the folded upper meets the binding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stitch one side of the elastic onto the lining and binding but be very careful not to put the needle through the ballet shoe upper.ballet shoes -  fix elastic 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Put on the shoe and pull the elastic over the instep, mark where the elastic meets the binding and stitch the elastic to the other side.ballet shoes -  fix elastic 3

Following these steps will ensure that the elastic is sewn on in the correct place and your ballet shoes are as comfortable as possible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dance Gear Direct are experts in providing dance wear with over 30 years’ experience. For more information about our extensive range of ballet shoes please visit our website http://www.dancegeardirect.co.uk.

We also provide Pointe shoe fitting by appointment, in our shop. Call 0121 420 1999

 

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What are Summer Dance Schools?dance school 1

Summer Dance School  programmes can run from as little as a week to the whole of the school holidays, with most being residential. They are an excellent way for children to learn and explore all types of dance. Many, dancers find them a refreshing experience, with a new approach to learning from exciting new teachers and choreographers and often progress quickly as a result.

Most summer dance programmes will offer a wide range of dance genres including Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern and Hip Hop. Emphasis is generally placed on overall dance technique and working to advance the dancer’s artistic skills. Some summer schools, however, are rather more specific in their genre, such as high-end ballet classes. These aim to polish a dancer’s skills, perhaps in preparation for entry to a dance academy. Summer schools like this, usually take the format of daily classes in techniques, such as classical ballet and repertoire work, focusing on enhancing students’ overall technique and aim to fulfil their desire to improve and advance in their chosen genre.

What do I look for when choosing a Summer Dance School?dance school 2

Choose a summer dance school which offers a programme which best fits your child’s wishes and needs, but which will stretch them at the same time. This of course will depend on the age of your child and what type of dance they want to focus on.

A younger child could benefit from a programme which offers a range of classes, and different styles of dance; whereas an older student may prefer to choose a more intensive programme, which will challenge them and help to strengthen their abilities.

 

Another consideration is whether you and/or your child is happy to stay away from home. Residential schools tend to be more intensive and therefore require a greater level of commitment and dedication. These tend to be more suited to older children.

Why do Summer Dance Schools take place?

Dance teachers incorporate summer dance programs into their studios for various reasons. Most of which allows them to;

  • Focus on the individual needs of a child
  • Incorporate many of the important aspects in training, such as strength, and
  • Increase the child’s knowledge of dance.
  • And of course to meet the needs of thousands of school children, who would otherwise stop dancing during the long summer holidays.

In addition to the benefits that dancers may gain, summer schools also allow colleges and dance academies to get a glimpse of the potential talent they may have auditioning, and to get an idea of a dancers’ potential suitability for their courses.

 

What are the benefits of attending a Summer Dance School?dance school 3

 

Apart from the obvious benefit, that dancers usually learn valuable techniques in a short but intense period; other benefits may include:

  • A chance to meet other like-minded and motivated dancers
  • A welcome break from their regular dance school
  • Allows dancers to connect a little more with their individuality, away from the regulation of  their  school dance classes
  • Mixed abilities of students take part
  • And best of all, a chance to have lots of fun!

What do you need to take to a Summer Dance School?

 

Most summer dance programmes finish with a dance display or competition, so an eye-catching leotard or tutu is a must. Apart from your usual dance wear, accessories are always good to have along with a fashionable but practical dance bag. Dance Gear Direct have a fantastic selection of ’Dance Gear’s’ made-to-order dancewear, along with a variety of dance bags and branded items from Bloch, Capezio and Roch Valley.

 

If your dance wardrobe is in need of a refresh, how about browsing the latest selection of bags, dancewear and accessories online at  http://www.dancegeardirect.co.uk  

and get ready for your dancing holiday!

 

How do I find a suitable Summer Dance School?

Many Summer Dance Schools advertise online, or your regular dance school maybe holding a summer programme or can recommend one. You may find also this link of use in locating a suitable dance school programme this summer; www.summer-schools.info/performing-arts/dance

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What are dance sneakers?

Dance sneakers are a type of footwear designed for dancing. They are specially designed to support the feet, but still allow for bending, spinning, and movement. Dance sneakers should only be worn for dancing; they are not intended for general use, because they often do not provide enough arch support for daily walking.

What types of dance sneakers are available?

There are different dance sneakers available for different types of dance, such as street and hip-hop.

sneak1Often, dance sneakers are designed with a split sole. This means that there is sole support in the front, underneath the toes and ball of the foot, and the back, underneath the heel of the foot. There is no sole in the middle of the foot under the arch, however.

This split sole design allows the foot to bend much more freely when dancing. Some feature straps along the side to give the arch a small bit of support. Other types of dance sneakers have a very thin, extremely flexible sole over the entire sneaker.

Some dance sneakers feature additional benefits, such as smooth spots on the soles to make spinning sneak2easier, or notches in the heel to make it easier for a partner to lift another dancer. Sneakers are typically lace-up; slip-on shoes are not common. The sneakers are typically made of leather, canvas, or suede; leather and suede shoes tend to be more expensive than others. Again, the style, type, and features of the shoe vary depending on the type of dance for which it is intended.

What features should I look for in a pair of dance sneakers?

Dance sneakers are designed with keeping the dancer’s demands such as the flexibility and comfort during the movements. They employ innovations such as;

  • Dynamic Resistance Technology [DRT]; this makes use of lightweight materials like sleek leather along with mesh upper. This gives good breath ability to the feet with comfort
  • sneak3Smooth spin circles for the quick effortless turns and the finger notch in the heels provide the confident partner lifts
  • Variable lacing system and this gives a foot hugging fit to the dancer
  • Grooves on the forefeet increase the flexibility in the movements
  • The insole can be removed during the required time and cleaned; they are made up of Ethylene Vinyl Acetate [EVA] to provide the supplemented support to the feet
  • The mid sole is always made up of Poly Urethane [P.U] and this gives the perfect cushioning to the feet. This allows the dancer to be more convenient during action.
  • The split sole design gives the best arc support and enables excellent orthotic inserts
  • Light weight non-marking outsole gives the mandatory shock absorption to the dancer and they also add to the agility of the person.

What types of dance are dance sneakers used for?

Dance sneakers are used for many styles but are particularly popular for:sneak4

  • Break dancing
  • Hip hop
  • Street dance

Where can I purchase dance sneakers?

There is a wide range of dance sneakers available on the market from many major dance brands such as Capezio, Bloch, Roch valley and Dance Gear.

If you’re buying your first pair or if you’re not sure what size to choose, it’s a good idea to get them fitted at a local dance shop. However, if you’re confident that you know what size and style you want to purchase then you’ll find much more competitively priced dance shoes online. These sneakers are generally not found in general shoe stores.

Dance Gear Direct are experts in providing dance wear with over 30 years’ experience. For more information about our extensive range of ballet shoes please visit our website http://www.dancegeardirect.co.uk.

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Step-By-Step Guide on How to Choose the Perfect Ballet Shoe

A ballet leotard is a piece of dancewear designed specifically for dance. It’s skin tight, covers the torso leaving the legs and usually the arms free, and its main purpose is to allow for complete freedom of movement.

Leotard1The ballet leotard is particularly well suited to dance because of its tight fitting – or formfitting – quality. This holds the leotard close to the dancer’s body to accentuate their physique whilst allowing them complete freedom of unrestricted movement. In turn, this allows the dance teacher, choreographer and audience to clearly see the placement of the dancer’s body which is highly important to provide the best possible performance.

Step 1: Choose your style

There are simply hundreds, if not thousands, of different designs of leotard available between which we can choose the one that fits us better. The most popular ones are:

pic2

 

 

Tank: This is the most basic of all leotards.It consists of a simple sleeveless tank-style torso.

 

 

Camisole: These are similar to tank leotards but have thinner shoulder straps which allow for more intricate designs such as double strap, criss-cross back, lattice back or rib back.

Cap Sleeve: This style of leotard has short sleeves and can have several variations on design such as an open back, ruche or polo neck.

Long Sleeve: As the title suggests, leotards of this nature have full length sleeves. Similar to the cap sleeve variety, the long sleeve leotard can have several variations on design such as an open back, ruche or polo neck.

pic3

 

Frilled or Skirted: The frill or skirt is usually attached to the leotard near the waist of the dancer. However, sometimes the skirt can originate from higher up the leotard such as on the Lyrical Dress where the skirt originates from just under the bust line.

 

 

Step 2: What fabrics are available?

When you think of ballet leotards, you probably think of cotton lycra or nylon lycra in black, white and pastel colours such as pink and blue. However, leotards actually look superb in a range of different fabrics too. Here we have some examples of the most popular ones:

pic4Nylon Lycra: It has a slight shine. It offers a wide variety of colours which means that even the most basic of leotards can be used to either contrast or harmonise with the themes explored by the dance.

Cotton Lycra: It has a matt finish. As well as nylon lycra, cotton lycra also offers a wide variety of colours with the same benefits.

Metallic and Hologram: These fabrics have a light reflective quality to create a glittery or sparkly effect.

Printed Fabrics: Leotards made from printed fabrics are available in prints ranging from tiger or zebra through to harlequin and rainbow.

pic5

 

Velour: It has the rich appearance and feel of velvet.

 

 

 

Step 3: What’s my size?

If you want to know if a leotard fits you or you want to know if you’ve bought the right size, you can follow the next steps in order to find it out:pic6

  1. Try it on and move around.
  2. Bend forward, backward and maybe to the sides too.
  3. If the straps on the front of the leotard don’t move too much then it’s likely that the leotard is a good fit.
  4. Other good tell-tale places of a well-fitting leotard are between the legs and under the arms. If your leotard pulls under the arms or between the legs when you try it on you need to choose a larger size. If, however, your leotard is baggy in any way, try a size smaller

Step 4: What about children leotards?

The importance of choosing quality leotards cannot be underestimated in providing the correct fit for your child. More and more dance teachers are allowing their students to wear their own choice of leotard, so there is a range of factors to consider when buying yours so we thought we’d outline a few of them here:

Firstly, does your school follow a regulatory body?pic7

Before you purchase your dance leotard, check with your dance teacher whether your school follows a certain regulation such as RAD or ISTD. There are different uniform requirements for different exams, so your child may start in a short sleeved leotard but change to a sleeveless dance leotard as they progress through different grades.

Different styles make a huge difference

Fashion leotards with more intricate strap designs are generally more limited to adult leotards. However, an increasing number of leotards with fashionable designs such as criss-cross straps, spaghetti straps and low backs are becoming available to children which further increases your choice.

Ensure that you get the correct size

When your child tries their leotard on at home or in a shop, allow them to do a few simple movements to see whether there is any irritation and whether there is a suitable amount of growing room. If you get the leotard too large though, there may be the risk of the leotard falling down off the shoulders. Equally, if the leotard is too small it may cause some discomfort in areas such as under the arms.

pic8Capezio and Bloch Leotards

Capezio and Bloch provide excellent choice of style, design and quality to all their dance leotards and now provide a large variety of children’s leotards. A number of these are in cotton with a mixture of nylon to give better stretch but also breathability. More leotards are also available in different choices of colours, purple and pink colours are particularly popular with children. Don’t ignore other makes as well, Roch Valley do a variety of different styles for children.

Dance Gear Direct are experts in providing dancewear with over 30 years experience. For more information about our extensive range of ballet leotards, please visit our website http://www.dancegeardirect.co.uk.