Welcome back to From the Top, Dancers! Today we’re going to talk about shoes! Yes, shoes! Ballet slippers, pointe shoes, tap shoes, ballroom shoes, ALL OF THE SHOES! But we’re not just going to talk about shoes, we’re talking about how to break them in! New dance shoes are always fun and exciting to buy but once you put those bad boys on your feet, whew!!!! It’s a whole new story. New dance shoes can be the definition of uncomfortable, but the good news is that they don’t stay that way forever. After dancing in them and getting some use out of them they become like a second skin. However, do we really have to wait THAT long for them to loosen up? Are there ways to get them to the point of comfort faster? The answer is yes, yes, YES!!! So, without further ado, here are few ways to break in almost every kind of shoe used in almost every kind of genre! Let’s get started!
Soft ballet shoes, or ballet slippers, are the first pair of shoes that you will receive when you start ballet training. They come in both canvas and leather material and there is actually a small debate over which material is better. However, no matter material you choose, the break in process for both is the same. To break in your ballet shoes, simply wear them around the house like socks every chance that you get. This way they will loosen up and form to the shape of your foot which not only makes them more comfortable, but they will also show the arch of your foot better!
Jazz shoes are made of all leather apart from the sole which is cloth material. They are very similar to ballet slippers since they are both soft, flexible and snug when you first get them. In addition to these two shoes being alike in terms of build, they are also alike in terms of break in process. The best way to break in jazz shoes are to (once again) wear them around the house so they can loosen up and conform to the shape of your foot with time. Like I said, we’ve got to see that killer arch!
A really effective way that I have found to break in tap shoes is by putting them on and bending the arch by lifting up to the ball of your foot, placing your foot back down and repeating this sequence on the other foot. This can also be done by simply taking your tap shoe and bending it back and forth with your hand! Be careful of those taps on the bottom though! Those bad boys can really hurt. Speaking from experience here…
After talking with some of the ballroom dancers that I know who have years of experience in this genre, I was able to learn some methods that they use to break in a new pair of ballroom shoes. One of the main methods that can be used to break in female ballroom shoes is by wearing a thin pair of sock with your shoes. This stretches them out and gives you a little bit of a cushion when wearing them while their brand new. Fellas, I haven’t forgot about you! The best method to breaking in male ballroom shoes is by putting on your shoes and taking your hands to bend the arch of your shoe while pointing and flexing your foot. Easy peazy, right?
And now for the big kahuna! Pointe shoes are most definitely an adventure to break in seeing as though the shoe is literally made of satin and wood. There are many, many methods that are used to break in pointe shoes, but the most common method is by taking your hands and bending the shoe back and forth with force. The goal is to hear the shoe pop! That glorious, magnificent POP! Too dramatic? Possibly but that’s only because when you hear that pop, that means that the shank, which is located in the sole of the shoe to support your arch, has slightly detached from the rest of the shoe. This will make your shoe far more flexibly, give you much more arch support and allow you to get onto your box easily. Which brings me to the next point (no pun intended), another way to soften your shoe and make it more pliable is by taking your foot and stepping on the front, flipping the shoe over and then stepping on the back of the box. This will keep it from being so hard and will also allow you to reach full pointe much easier
I hope this post has given you some new ideas on how to break in your next pair of shoes and if you already have a “break in routine”, try giving some of these methods a try and see if they are something you would like to continue using! I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend and remember….