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What are Dance Sneakers?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 21, 2024
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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.

There are different dance sneakers available for different types of dance, such as jazz and hip-hop. These sneakers may be purchased at athletic supply or dancing supply stores, and are generally not found in general shoe stores. They may also be purchased online, but it is a good idea to ask for assistance from an employee before purchasing a first pair of dance shoes.

Often, 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.

Dance sneakers typically only come in a few colors, including black, pink, or white. This is because many dance schools have strict rules regarding attire, both for practices and shows, and brightly colored sneakers are not often allowed. In addition, depending on the type of dance, some schools require students to wear a leotard and tights while practicing.

Some dance sneakers feature additional benefits, such as smooth spots on the soles to make spinning easier, 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.

Remember, dance sneakers should never be worn for anything other than dance. Not only can this damage an expensive pair of dancing sneakers, but it can cause injury or pain in the legs and feet. For walking or jogging, choose sneakers designed for the purpose, with a complete sole and full support for the arches.

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Discussion Comments
By golf07 — On Jul 26, 2011

Ever since I was a young girl I have wanted to learn how to tap dance. Once my kids were raised, I decided it was time to learn how.

I signed up for a class through our local community college and was happy to see that most of the people in the class were my age or even a little bit older. Many of them were just like me, and had no other tap dance training.

I looked at several different styles of tap shoes before ordering because we could order any style that we liked. I went with a pair of tap dance sneakers that were more casual than some, and I was surprised at how comfortable they were.

Right now they are sitting in my closet waiting for their next big chance to be used. I really need to sign up for another class to get some more use out of them because I am not ready to get rid of them yet.

By LisaLou — On Jul 25, 2011

I love the look of dance sneakers, and my daughter has a pair that she loves to wear for her dance practices and shows. She would love to wear them at other times too, but saves them just for dance.

I bought a pair of Capezio dance shoes for her online. We live in a small town and don't have much for resources for her dance clothes locally. I was a little concerned about buying them online because I wanted them to fit her right, but we were able to figure out what she needed and didn't have to exchange them.

I will probably start to order more of her things like that online. There are so many more choices and styles to choose from than what we had access to before.

By sunshined — On Jul 24, 2011

One of my good friends has a daughter who is very involved in dance. She is on a very good team that has traveled across the country for dance competitions.

I know that buying all of the dance clothes and shoes can get very expensive. She purchased a pair of Bloch dance sneakers for her daughter, and I couldn't believe how much they cost. Because she is growing so fast, she probably won't be able to wear them much longer than a year.

There are many dance items like this that can be found used and are still in good shape. You can save a lot of money this way as long as they match what the other team members are wearing.

By Oceana — On Jul 22, 2011

I have a really cool looking pair of Sansha dance sneakers. I wanted something other than basic black, but nothing too flashy, so I found a pair of white and black fashion sneakers.

The pattern is horizontal waves alternating between white and black. The pattern appears to move with my feet. The leather upper is perforated, and it provides really good air circulation. It’s hard to dance for long when your feet are hot, and these sneakers can keep me going a long time.

One neat feature on the bottom of these shoes is the spin spot. I can twirl around while balancing the front of my foot on this spot and receive support from the shoe.

By cloudel — On Jul 22, 2011

Dance sneakers may look like shoes for old ladies, but they sure do provide great comfort. I wouldn’t dance without them.

I have a thin black pair of Capezio dance sneakers made of supple leather. The edges are folded to add strength to the lean design. They have a split sole, and the patch on the forefoot is smaller for the perfect amount of flexibility and traction.

They have an arch insert made of stretchy neoprene. They also have an elastic sock lining and a heel with added shock absorption and stability. These slip-on sneakers are the most comfortable dance shoes I have ever tried.

By Perdido — On Jul 21, 2011

My friends and I decided to start a street dance crew for something interesting to do on weekend nights. To add to the entertainment value, we all purchased hot pink sequined dance sneakers.

The shoes have rubber soles that are thin enough to be comfortable while dancing. These shoes came with white laces. They are low-tops with a fabric lining.

We made a pact never to use our sneakers for anything other than dancing. For one thing, we don’t want to risk damage to a member’s foot and put ourselves out of commission for awhile. Also, we’d really like to try and keep them the same degree of clean so that we all match.

By orangey03 — On Jul 21, 2011

I bought some red and black dance sneakers when I joined a dance class. The moves involved a lot of footwork and spinning, so I needed something that would allow my foot to flex comfortably.

The sneakers have a really thick sole everywhere but in the middle, where they appear to rise up and meet the bottom of my foot. They are ideal for easy movements.

I have one pair of red laces and one pair of black ones that came with the sneakers. Since we don’t have rehearsals and participation is on an individual basis, there are no color regulations. In fact, I just bought a pair of glitter laces to use when I need extra motivation.

By Mae82 — On Jul 20, 2011

The article is right about never wearing your dance sneakers as casual shoes. I made the mistake of walking home in my dance sneakers and I got horribly sore feet for my trouble. There is no arch support in a pair of dance sneakers and they really do damage easily.

A good idea if you find yourself walking home in dance sneakers is to stay on the grass. The soft surface will really cushion your feet and protect your shoes from getting worn in the wrong spots. Avoid the cement and you should be OK. If you do accidentally damage your dance sneakers by wearing them when you shouldn't they can usually be repaired.

By animegal — On Jul 20, 2011

I started taking hip hop dance classes and were surprised to learn that the other girls were wearing dance sneakers. I didn't even know that these existed until I started taking a class and trying to dance myself.

For those who are looking to get dance sneakers for a class you should ask if your school could get you any discounts. At my school I was able to get 25% discount on a pair of really nice dance sneakers by asking my teacher where to go get a pair, and about how much they would cost.

On average dance sneakers are pretty pricey, so if you can get the discount your pocketbook will be a lot happier.

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