Dance shoes are essential dance supplies for all dancers. Whether your dancer is just beginning dance classes or a pre-professional dancer, quality dance shoes are an absolute necessity in order to progress as a dancer.
In this blog post, we are sharing five hacks to help you extend the life of your child’s dance shoes.
1. Get Your Dancer Professionally Fitted for Dance Shoes
Let’s get real. It’s 2019. Shopping online and having products delivered directly to your front door is very convenient and time efficient. We also know that shopping online for many products can also be more cost efficient. However, there are some specialty products that you should always try to purchase in person. Dance shoes are specialty products that should be reserved for purchasing from a dance supply store. Dance shoes are sized differently from regular street shoes and often require conversions when fitting.
Professional dance supply consultants are trained to know how to properly fit the feet of all dancers. They have many techniques to help your dancer find the correct size dance shoes. A professional shoe fitter will know how to make sure your dancer has growing room in their dance shoes.
Although dance shoes are made to fit snugly, you never want your dancer’s shoes to fit too small or just right. It is good practice to purchase dance shoes (except for pointe shoes) with a little bit of growing room.
Being professionally fitted for dance shoes and having a little growing room in the fit of the dance shoes will help extend the length of time that your dancer wears the shoes.
Allow the professional shoe fitters at Ultimate Dancewear to assist you with this first hack. We perform free professional shoe fittings for every dancer for all styles of dance (e.g., ballet, pointe, tap, and ballroom).
2. Purchase Quality Dance Shoes
In addition to shopping online, we understand that it is very tempting to purchase dance shoes from discount department stores, such as Walmart or Target. However, the quality of dance shoes from Walmart or Target versus the quality of dance shoes from a dance supply store differs greatly.
Most dance shoes found in discount department stores are made from bonded/blended leather. Bonded/blended leather is a very low-grade leather whereby the leather is manufactured by binding small pieces of leather together with other non-leather material. As a result, these low-grade leather dance shoes tend to feel as stiff as cardboard and are uncomfortable to the foot. This can cause soar, achy feet, and technical failure for your dancer. Now, imagine your dancer trying to dance with cardboard shoes. Would you agree that this would be very uncomfortable?
Unlike the dance shoes that are found in a discount department store, the dance shoes found in dance supply stores are made from genuine leather. Dance shoes made from genuine leather creates a soft feel and a range of flexibility. One of the primary purposes of the use of dance shoes is to enhance dance movements. Therefore, you do not want your dancer’s shoes hindering their progress because the shoes are too hard and uncomfortable. Your dancer will not endure as long in a low-grade leather dance shoe as they would in a higher-grade leather dance shoe.
Feel free to visit us at Ultimate Dancewear to examine the difference in the quality of the dance shoes from the discount department stores and the dance shoes from our dance supply store. If you want your dancer to have dance shoes that are going to last, invest in good quality dance shoes.
3. A Mesh Bag is a Dance Shoe’s Best Friend
Dancing is a sport and a form of exercise. As a result, dance shoes are filled with pounds of sweat, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Over time, sweat, dead skin cells, and bacteria work to break down dance shoes. A mesh dance bag is used to slow down this process.
Did you know that dance shoes have so much sweat in them that they can take up to 48 hours to dry completely? After every dance class, have your dancer remove their dance shoes from their enclosed dance bag and allow the dance shoes to dry in a mesh bag. A mesh bag contains small holes throughout the bag to allow air to circulate in and out so that the moisture will dissipate. The larger the holes in the mesh bag the greater the flow of air throughout the bag.
You may be wondering why not just take the dance shoes out and allow them to air out without a mesh bag. Like a regular dance bag, a mesh bag also keeps dance items organized in one place. Also, please note that your dance bag should be a breathable bag and not a plastic bag. A plastic or non-breathable dance bag will create a damp environment and will work to shorten the lifespan of your dance shoes.
4. Clean Dance Shoes Properly & Never Place Dance Shoes in the Dryer
Dance shoe manufacturers generally advise to refrain from washing dance shoes. We also advise against washing dance shoes. Although dance shoes, especially canvas dance shoes, can get pretty dirty, it is important to remember that your child’s dance shoes are canvases that showcase all of their hard work.
If you want to wash your dancer’s shoes, we recommend that you only wash the shoes right before a dance performance. Do not wash their dance shoes for dance class.
Wash canvas (cloth) dance shoes in the washing machine in cold water with a mild detergent. Then allow the shoes to air dry until they have completely dried. Do not place canvas dance shoes in the dryer! Please be mindful that canvas shoes will shrink slightly (like denim jeans), but will stretch to your dancers’ feet after they start to wear them again. Use your handy-dandy soap and water or leather shoe cleaner to wash leather dance shoes. Do not place leather shoes in the washing machine or in the dryer!
Properly cleaning your dancer’s shoes only when necessary and avoiding placing them in the dryer will help prolong their lifespan.
5. Never Wear Dance Shoes Outdoors
It is important to understand that dance shoes are not regular street shoes. The soles of dance shoes are created with the intent to be used on wooden or padded floors. Although dance shoes are created to be durable shoes, dance shoes are not materialized to withstand the rough exterior textures of concrete or gravel.
Do not allow your dancer to wear their dance shoes to and from dance class. Wearing dance shoes outdoors will diminish the longevity of the dance shoes. Always have your dancer wear their regular street shoes to and from dance class.
Dancers are to place their dance shoes on once they are inside of the dance studio or theatre.
Wearing dance shoes outdoors will also damage dance shoes by creating rips, tears, and holes in the shoes.
Extend the lifespan of dance shoes and prevent the frustration of dance shoes being unnecessarily ruined by simply not allowing your dancer to wear the dance shoes outdoors.
Bonus Hack: Know When It’s Time to Get New Dance Shoes
We understand that you are not looking forward to having to purchase new dance shoes every year. However, it is important to remember that dance shoes are still shoes. Although dance shoes are created to withstand even the most enthusiastic dancer, it is important to remember that not even the strongest shoe is meant to last forever. Just like your dancer’s feet outgrow their school shoes every year, your dancer will also outgrow their dance shoes every year (and sometimes more than once within one year).
Growing feet = need for new shoes.
If you want to extend the lifespan of your child’s dance shoes, you must intentionally work to implement the hacks that we have shared with you. It is also important to understand that these hacks are only a starting point to help you begin practicing how to properly care for dance shoes in ways that will allow for longer use.
Follow us on Instagram to specifically learn how to extend the life of your dancer’s pointe shoes.
Above all, it is vital to understand that dance shoes are not meant to last forever. Once you fully grasp this reality, you will have a much easier time following the steps to prolonging the life span of dance shoes and you will also be ready to purchase new dance shoes when it is time.
We want to hear from you! Which hack(s) do you plan to implement or what hack(s) are you already implementing? Or maybe you have a hack to share that we did not list. Comment below.