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I love dancing in heels–among my favorites, the glittery 8″ lovelies pictured above. I love how dancing in heels instantly changes the way I move. But that movement didn’t come naturally, oh no. It took time, and just as important … it took an understanding of how my shoes are designed to *help* me dance! Let’s take a look:

  1. The rigid sole. Have you ever tried dancing in street shoes? They offer great support for everyday walking, but for dancing … not so much. That rigid sole fashioned from a single piece of hard plastic provides stability and support for pole dancers. It allows us to get up on our toes with help from the shoe!

    Think about it: when you get on your tiptoes in any other shoe, the shoe flexes with your foot. For some styles of dance this is a good and necessary thing. For pole, and for exotic dancers who spend hours at a time in these shoes (and who may or may not have the background of hundreds of studio hours spent training and conditioning the legs to withstand that sort of use), having that support protects the calves from fatigue.

    So take comfort in that stability and pirouette away. Get up on the toes and know your shoes aren’t going to give out on you. Hooray!!!

  2. The bit of fabric that wraps ever so slightly over the toe. Floorwork requires the ability to slide your feet around, and you can’t slide if your shoes are sticking to the floor! On platforms there is a slight wrap of fabric that covers the very top of the toe. When you’re on the floor and your toes are POINTED (POINTED!!!), that bit of fabric allows you to move your feet wherever the heck you want across the floor without getting them hung up in any way. Now, if you’re not pointing your toes … well then the rubber sole tread could bite you, hard. Point ’em!
  3. The angled front. This one is partly aesthetics, partly function. Without that angle platforms would look a lot more clunky. But the functional part is the real deal: too much shoe dragging across the floor makes for difficult floorwork. You will notice this is you’re only halfway pointing your toes. You know who you are.  😉  The angled front also feeds in to #4 below.
  4. The turned up edge on the sole. This is a big one, folks. Do your pirouettes always feel “sticky” — do you get hung up? Chances are you’re trying to turn on the large surface area of the sole. Get up onto that little turned-up helper and your pirouettes and pivots will be like butter
Last but not least: your best bet is to *condition* your feet and legs –and your BRAIN — to dance in heels. The reason dancers don’t feel comfortable in their heels is that they never wear them. Or they strap them on for one song and then feel like they’re clomping around. 
Put the shoes on and, with the help of your pole, get up onto your tippy-toes, onto that little turned up edge. Pivot around. Just stand there for a minute. 
Drop to the floor, POINT YOUR TOES, and feel how your feet slide around effortlessly. Use your core to stabilize yourself in this position. DON’T flex your feet and start dragging rubber in order to get the stability. It’s extremely counterproductive to do that! Core, core, core, core — that’s how you gain and keep stability in floor moves. 
Get a feel for how your shoes can support and help you, rather than hinder you! There are tutorials out there for conditioning your feet and legs (one of my favorite heeled dancers, Rachele Ribera, just put one out. Haven’t seen it yet but given her ability to make heel movement something ethereal, it’s probably worth a watch.)  
This video, with its close-up heel work, shows you just how effortless and glide-y (is that a word???) dancing in heels can be. See how little time she actually spends on the largest part of the sole? Yep. Feast your eyes on that magic. 🙂

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