Since summer 2010, I’ve been sporadically dancing in ballet slippers. Although barefoot is my favorite, I like them sometimes, for when I don’t want my feet to get dirty or when it’s cold or just when we’re doing a bunch of turns. Once broken in, they are remarkably comfortable and I love how my particular pair (a split-sole with a lycra middle) conforms to my foot. However, I don’t think they’re attractive. My efforts to dye them close to my skin tone has been fruitless, and they just plain aren’t cute as is. I’ve coming around to seeing that shoes are sometimes necessary, but I want to dance in shoes that match whatever I’m wearing. One of my goals is to learn how to do Middle Eastern dance in heels. They’re much more elegant looking than any other dance shoe option I’ve seen (half-soles, Hermes sandals, etc.), and even though some of the shoe options would probably be pretty invisible, I’d rather know my footwear is attractive.

One small caveat is that I really don’t wear heels anymore. For about 8-9 years or so of my life, I wore heels, high heels. I don’t think you would’ve seen me in anything shorter than 3 inch heels, unless it was raining and galoshes were needed. However, when I was 23, I noticed my toes were having issues. They were becoming crooked and stiffer; my shoe choices were what I decided needed to change in order to avoid exacerbating the problem and possibly needing surgery. I converted to flats and have basically worn flats or wedges with very small angles since. My toes have improved, so I think the footwear was the culprit.

Last night, I put on a pair of character shoes I own from when I tried Flamenco. Not the most attractive shoes, and I don’t think I’d wear them for performance, unless it was folkloric, but they certainly have their benefits. The heel is about 2 inches, so not sky-high but certainly nothing trivial. They have a thicker heel, which is easier for balance. And most importantly, they’re here so I don’t have to spend extra money on something I’m not sure if I like.

After adjusting to wearing the shoes by just walking around my apartment in them, I tried some drills and light dancing. The verdict is mixed. Turns, which are not my forte, were much harder. The bottoms of the character shoes are much slicker than my ballet slippers or my bare feet, so it is easier to get around but harder to know how much force is needed to make the turn. Other moves were not bad. My weight placement felt weird, but it wasn’t as dramatic of change as turns were.

Heels still seem like the best option for me if/when I perform in a place where the floor isn’t good, but it’ll be a long time before I feel really comfortable dancing in them and probably even longer time before I really feel comfortable doing any kind of spins or fast turns in them.

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Barefoot has been my pick for dancing since I began. I like the feeling of the ground beneath my feet while I dance.

However, the many turns/spins in the choreographies I’ve been learning have been rough on my feet. While I’ve experienced no pain, I have come home to discover the skin is ripped off or sagging  off the ball of my feet from the spins. I figure that it isn’t good, even if there is no pain. I’ve bit the bullet and decided to wear ballet slippers. I considered other options, like FootUndeez, but I figure that I’d rather have my entire foot protected.

I’ve been slowly adjusting to wearing shoes. I don’t love it, but the well-being of my foot is the more important than the minor weirdness of wearing ballet slippers. Spins are easier, which is nice but will be an adjustment.

The shoes are likely not to be a permanent fixture in my life (I don’t wear them for my other Middle Eastern dance class and I can’t wear them for Bharatanatyam), but they’ll probably make their appearance every now and then.