Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Register
General
Blog Home All Blogs

If the shoe fits: Choosing the right dance shoe

Posted By Alycia Fong Yan, Wednesday, November 18, 2015

There are a large variety of different dance shoes to choose from, but which shoe is right for you, what did your dance teacher want you to wear, what will make you look good, and does it really matter in the long run? The difference in dance performance when wearing various shoe designs is not only something many dancers have experienced, but has been measured and shown to be true. There are several factors you need to consider when choosing a dance shoe: the fit of the shoe, the genre of dance, what you want your shoe to do, and what dance steps you want to perform best.


Having a shoe that fits properly will lower the risk of injury to the lower limb. If the shoe is too big or loose the foot can move around inside the shoe, while if the shoe is too small or tight the toes can become squashed and overlap each other, potentially leading to toe and foot deformation such as bunions. Although it is tempting to buy a shoe with a bit of “growing room”, in the long term it will be a much cheaper option to get properly fitting shoes and save on the healthcare bills further down the track.


Sometimes the choice of shoe for a dance performance or examination is out of the dancer’s control; either there are regulations to follow, or the dance teacher or choreographer wants a particular look for a performance. A shoe with a thicker outsole and more rigid upper, like dance sneakers, will not allow the toes, foot or ankle to point as well as they could when barefoot [Figure 1]. Regardless of how much effort is being put into pointing the feet, if the shoe does not allow the movement, the pointed feet and ankles are not seen.


Dancers can be at risk of repetitive impact-related injuries and cushioning in the shoe may help. But don’t simply go for the shoe with the thickest sole and visible cushioning. Advances in technology have made the shock absorbing materials thinner and more effective, so the newer models will actually be more shock absorbing even if they are more streamlined.


Jumps in high heeled shoes can feel heavy and cumbersome and research has shown that jump height is reduced when wearing high heeled shoes compared to flats or bare feet. This is because the capacity for the feet and ankles to propel the dancer into the air is reduced.


Select the shoe that meets the style of dance, but know that your performance may be different from when you are dancing barefoot or in a different pair of shoes. Like any form of training, a gradual increase in exposure to new footwear will allow the body to adapt movement patterns. Rehearse in the same shoes that you will perform in as early as possible to help improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury.


Alycia Fong Yan, PhD

Exercise and Sport Science

Faculty of Health Sciences

THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY


Recommended Readings

1. Fong Yan A, Hiller C, Sinclair PJ, Smith RM. Kinematic analysis of sautés in barefoot and shod conditions. J Dance Med Sci. 2014;18(4):149-58.

2. Fong Yan A, Hiller C, Smith R, Vanwanseele B. Effect of footwear on dancers: a systematic review. J Dance Med Sci. 2011;15(2):86-92.

3. Fong Yan A, Smith R, Hiller C, Sinclair P. Maximum height of a dance jump in different jazz shoes. In: Bradshaw E, Burnett A, Hume P, editors. 30th Conference of the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports; Melbourne. Australian Catholic University, Melbourne: Australian Catholic University; 2012. p. 428 - 31.

4. Fong Yan A, Smith R, Hiller C, Sinclair P. The effect of jazz shoe design on impact attenuation. Footwear Sci. 2013;5(sup1):S124-S5.

5. Fong Yan A, Smith RM, Vanwanseele B, Hiller C. Mechanics of jazz shoes and their effect on pointing in child dancers. J Appl Biomech. 2012;28(3):242-8.

6. Tuckman A, Werner F, Bayley J. Analysis of the forefoot on pointe in the ballet dancer. Foot Ankle. 1991;12(3):41-6.

7. Kravitz SR, Murgia CJ, Huber S, Fink K, Shaffer M, Varela L. Bunion deformity and the forces generated around the big toe : a biomechanical approach to analysis of pointe dance, classical ballet. In: Shell CG, editor. The Dancer as Athlete: The 1984 Olympic Scientific Congress Proceedings. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publisheers, Inc.; 1986. p. 43-51.

8. Pearson SJ, Whitaker AF. Footwear in classical ballet: a study of pressure distribution and related foot injury in the adolescent dancer. J Dance Med Sci. 2012;16(2):51-6.

9. Dozzi PA, Winter DA. Biomechanical analysis of the foot during rises to full pointe : implications for injuries to the metatarsal-phalangeal joints and shoe redesign. Kinesiology and medicine for dance. 1993;16(1):1-11.

 

 

 

Tags:  dancers  floors  shoes  teachers 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

Dancers have the answers when it comes to dance floors

Posted By Luke Hopper, Monday, January 26, 2015

 
Pictured: Luke Hopper, Talia Wheeler; Photographer: Ray Marsh of Harlequin Floors

So you are starting a new school or planning a performance tour, you check out the venue, look at the floors and some red flags go up. All of a sudden you have a difficult decision to make. Is this floor sprung and going to be ok for my dancers? Here are a few tips from some recent research that can help you if you have experienced this common problem.

Sprung floors are basically made to absorb and return energy during dancing. Absorbing energy can decrease impact on a dancer’s body and energy return can help jumps. The top surface of a sprung floor normally sits on a foam or basket weave structure so that it can move up and down with the dancer returning and absorbing energy. So the first thing to do when checking out your new floor, is try to get an idea of the floor structure. Unless you are lucky enough to have the actual floor details or specs, this often means getting on your hands and knees and trying to see what lies beneath. Doorways and barre posts are often good spots where you can get a good look underneath the top surface of the floor. If you think the floor structure might be ok then it is time to quiz your dancers.

Standards

First of all, there are standards that are apply to the manufacture of dance floors. These standards are typically developed from the sporting industry and have their limitations for dance. Dancers generally prefer a soft floor that falls within the upper ranges of the standards for shock absorption. Nonetheless, if you are going to purchase a new floor you should always ask the manufacturer if their products have been approved by the standards for your region of the world.

Dancers have the answers

When it comes to deciding if a floor is appropriate for dance, recent studies have shown that dancers know what they are talking about when it comes to floors. When interviewed as a group, dancers were able to give a good estimate of dance floor properties compared to the standard measures. Therefore asking your class or company dancers what they think of a floor is a really valuable way of getting a better understanding of a floor. Here are a few tips to help you along;

·        Every dancer will have a different sense of the floor.

Just like different dancers prefer different shoes. Therefore it is important that you get a group response about a floor. Individual dancer preferences for floors are not a reliable measure.

·        Let dancers make their own decisions.

This means getting dancers to develop and give their opinions anonymously. This way they don’t feel pressured into the ‘expected’ response.

·        Use specific and open questions.

Asking specific questions is important but also give the dancers the opportunity to express their own opinions. Often these dancer perspectives will make you stop and look at the problem differently.

·        Make sure the dancers use the whole floor.

Just hopping up and down on the spot is not enough to get a good feel for the floor. The dancers need to experience the whole floor space using lots of different movements. Choreographing a short routine for the all the dancers to test the floor with can be a good way of getting them moving.

·        Give yourself a comparison.

If you have access to another floor that you know meets the standards and is appropriately sprung, get the dancers to repeat the questions on the other floor. This will give you a better scale of how the new floor rates for the dancers.

Once you have the responses from the dancers it is ultimately your call whether or not to go with the floor. Although, hopefully the dancers have helped you with your decision. If you decide to use the floor but still have your reservations, make sure to structure the first classes and rehearsals at a low intensity. This will give the dancers the time to adjust to the floor and help you identify any problems along the way. No one wants to have to stop classes because of an inappropriate floor so working with your dancers in the interests of their own safety is important for a safe and effective dance environment.

 

Luke Hopper, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University.

Email: l.hopper@ecu.edu.au

Phone: +61 8 6304 8234

 

Recommended readings

Hopper LS, Wheeler TJ, Webster JM, Allen N, Roberts JR, Fleming PR. Dancer perceptions of the force reduction of dance floors used by a professional touring ballet company. J Dance Med Sci. 2014:18(3):121-30.

Hopper LS, Alderson JA, Elliott BC, Ackland TR, Fleming PR. Dancer perceptions of quantified dance surface mechanical properties. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology. 2011:225(2):65-73.

Tags:  dancers  floors  teachers 

PermalinkComments (0)
 
Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal