For a different style of dance, there is a different kind of dance shoes. The choice of dance shoes can also depend on the surface that will be performed on. The types of dance shoes are: ballroom shoes, tap shoes, dance sneakers, foot thongs, ghillies, ballet shoes, pointe shoes, flamenco shoes and jazz shoes.
Ballroom shoes can be categorized in ladies and men’s ballroom shoes or classical ballroom and Latin American ballroom shoes. Classical ballroom shoes have a low heel that allows the weight to be distributed evenly across the foot. Latin American shoes have higher heels that put weight onto the toes.
Ladies classical ballroom shoes are court shoes with two-inch heels. Men’s classical ballroom shoes are lace-ups with one-inch heels. Sometimes the ballroom shoes are made of fabric that can be colored to match the dress. Ballroom shoes sole is made of suede material.
Ladies Latin American ballroom shoes are up to 3-inch heel, strapped and are open toed. Man’s Latin American ballroom shoes have up to 2 inches shaped heel.
Tap shoes have metal taps attached to the bottom of the toe area and heel. These metal tap make a loud sound when hit against the hard surface during the performance. Tap dance is known for using the sound of tap shoes striking the floor. The tap on the shoes creates a form of percussion. Thin fiberboard called soundboard is integrated to the sole. The taps are screwed into this soundboard or glued. Screws can be tightened or loosened to make different sounds. Glue also influence tonal quality. Tonal quality depends on the material the tap is made from, tap shape and tap weight. The tap can be the concave or convex shape. Some taps are thinner and lighter and have a small footprint area, but others are thicker and heavier and fill out the edge of the shoe more.
Dance sneakers are light sneakers with reinforced rubber on toes area. In this way, a dancer can stand on the toes in ballet manner.
Foot thongs cover foot partially on ball area to provide less friction. They are just flesh colored slip-on when dancing barefoot. They protect foot skin from injuries and make turns easier.
Gillies are used in Scottish highland dance, Irish dance, and Scottish country dance. Ghillies are soft shoes, made of leather that forms to the shape of the foot and has crisscross laces. They are often black. They are similar to ballet shoes. Ghillies have full leather sole or two-part sole. They have very long laces to wrap around the ankle, foot and often around the sole and then tied them up.
Scottish highland dancing is accompanied by bagpipe music. It evolves step dancing on the balls of the feet and arms, hands, and upper body movements. It is competitive dance and dancers are competing across the world. Scottish ghillies for the highland dance are used by women and men. They have to be a bit bigger than a foot, because of the thick socks.
Irish dance is recognizable for its rapid leg and foot movements while body and arms are stationary. Irish ghillies are used by women. Men wear black leather shoes called reel shoes.
Scotish country dance is a social dance of a group of couples dancing to a predetermined choreography. Scottish ghillies for the country dance are used by men.
Ballet shoes are soft shoes made of leather, canvas or satin with full or two-part leather sole. The sole is thicker at the heel and ball part and thinner at the arch part for flexibility. They are secured by elastics at the top of the foot.
Pointe shoes are used when ballet dancer performs pointe work. These shoes developed as a need of ballet dancers to appear weightless, lightfooted and graceful while jumping and looks lightweight like defying gravity. Elements of ballet pointe shoes are a box, two ribbons and an elastic band, shank, sole, fabric cover and accessories.
Flamenco shoes are worn by flamenco dancers and have the ability for percussive footwork. Female flamenco shoes have a heel, and men have short heeled boots. These shoes have nails inserted in the heel and toe area to produce the sound.
Jazz shoes are used in jazz dance. These shoes have a short heel, two-part sole, laces to secure to the foot and suede patch for better turning. Jazz shoes can also be used in other dance genres like acrobatic rock’n’roll and acro dance.