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Shoes for Dance and Music Performers

If you are a dancer, you tailor your shoe choice to the physical requirements of the dance, your costume, and the surface you will be dancing on.

If you are a musician in costume, you tailor your choice to your costume and your comfort.

Think twice and three times before you dance barefoot in public places; one splinter of glass, wood or metal, or an outside surface heated to frying-pan temperature under the sun, may not only put an abrupt end to your performance but keep you off stage for days or weeks!

"I wear shoes for safety. Too many barefoot dancers got serious infections from supposedly minor injuries - like cuts from broken beads. For proper dance technique, one should not wear heels more than an inch high or it changes the body's postural dynamic and strongly affects how the muscles - especially in the legs - work and develop... If you want to be able to dance your entire life, do not be a slave to fashion. Wear shoes, but stay away from platforms and high heels, no matter how glamourous they look. Higher-heeled ballroom dance shoes were designed for a dance form with a kinesiological dynamic very much other than that of Oriental dance."

Soft-Soled Shoes

Ballet Slippers

These come in canvas and leather styles. The full sole gives a bit more support to the arch; the split sole creates a better line. Canvas shoes will not stretch: buy them to your size. Leather shoes will stretch; buy them tight.

Princess Farhana suggests making the soles a bit more durable by having a shoemaker apply a thin layer of dance rubber put on over the swede sole; this will also give the sole more traction, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the dance surface. Shira suggests asking the shoemaker to apply a rubber layer and then add a leather layer in order to allow the foot to pivot freely.

Egyptian Dance Slipper

A soft slipper with an elasticized edge (no strap), a plastic sole, and a pointed toe (which gives a more high-heeled look without the heels). Gold and Silver slippers are especially popular.

Half Sole Shoes

These look like the front half of a soft shoe, sometimes with cutouts for toes and sometimes not. There are many varieties. Type half sole dance shoe into Google or Amazon search and take your pick.



Gillies are the sandals often seen on Irish dancers; the body of the shoe is cut into tabs, which are laced across the foot and around the ankles. Princess Farhana suggests swapping the cord with ribbons that match your costume, and consider adding dance leather on the sole.

Hermes Sandals

These are also lace-up sandals, but without the tabs: the lacing starts at the sole near the toe area and criss-crosses up to the ankle (or higher).

Heeled Shoes

Lebanese belly dancing requires high-heels; the customers expect it. Flat-footed has become acceptable for Turkish and Egyptian dancing. If you want to use heels, buy ballroom shoes, which are designed to support a dancer's foot while dancing.


Atlanta Belly Dance sells Egyptian dance slippers.

Carlson, Mark. Footwear of the Middle Ages Web, January 19 2015. Mr. Carlson writes for reinactors who make their own shoes. Probably more suitable for musicians than dancers. Many many diagrams of shoe patters, as well as exhaustive instructions on technique and materials. seems to have assimilated

Morocco, Ask Aunt Rocky. RDI Publications, 2011. Print.

Princess Farhana. "Best Foot Forward! A Bellydancer's Guide to Footwear." Jareeda Magazine, 2008. Print.

Shira. To the Tip of Your Toes: Costuming for Your Feet. Web.
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