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Dance Shoes – What You Need to Know

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Dance Shoes – What You Need to Know

To the untrained eye, dance shoes seem like just another pair of shoes. A lot of new students will put off buying the proper shoes for far too long. Whatever you do, don’t wait!  Could you imagine showing up to play 18 holes of golf with your buddies wearing all the right gear, but missing golf shoes? Would you forego those oh-so attractive shoes when you go bowling? There is something to be said about wearing the proper footwear for the sport; ballroom dancing is no different.

Being an experienced dancer, I have danced in both regular street shoes as well as high heels. Usually the next day I’m reminded of why Ballroom Dance shoes are so important. I will always wake up with a spot somewhere on my foot that hurts from the stiffness of street shoes. I also find that both my legs and knees will hurt. This is due to regular shoes sticking to the ground when you execute turns.  Regular shoes create a delayed response in how your foot swivels in relation to your body, putting extra load on your joints. When I’m wearing my dance shoes, I can turn smoothly and let my movements flow.

Proper dance footwear is very important.  As I’ve gotten older, I have come to realize just how critical they are. Yes, Mom…you were right, yet again. Dance shoes are pretty unique; you can’t buy them at a regular store. You can only buy them at a Ballroom Dance shoe store. One of the things that make the shoes so unique is that the bottoms are suede. The suede makes it easy to spin, turn, and twist without the floor seeming too slippery.

Dance shoes are also flexible, allowing you to point, kick, and move properly while the shoe bends with you. My students always say they are surprised at how comfortable their shoes are, and that’s because of the flex. While flexibility is important, it’s also essential that the shoe is not too flimsy. For the support required, dance shoemakers put a “shank” in the arch of the shoe. The majority of women’s shoes also have some sort of ankle strap that keeps the shoe firmly on their feet.

Thankfully, dance shoes are all lightweight, which prevents your legs from getting tired as quickly. This is an important feature, especially for men. When learning to dance, male students are always worried about stepping on their partner’s feet. No matter how good of a dancer you are, at some point it’s bound to happen. Getting stepped on by a man’s heavy dress shoe or boot is no joke – proper dance shoes definitely lessen the pain.

Chances are once you see the selection of dance shoes in the store, you will be overwhelmed by the various options and styles. For the men, I would recommend a basic, black leather lace up shoe…they should be easy to spot. Compared to women’s shoes, there isn’t as much variety in the men’s lines.Note: there are men’s dance shoes with a “Latin heel,” which feature a 2-inch heel. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing those unless you compete in big time Latin competitions. For everyday lessons, dancing, and even competitions, the standard black units are fine. You will also see patent leather, which looks a lot like the typical wedding shoe. These are typically only used for Ballroom competitions.  They have a very dressy look that compliments the men’s tail suits. Some of the shoe companies have gotten a little more creative recently, tooling options that look more like street shoes, with a wingtip or braided design. These are all great shoes – as long as they are really dance-specific shoes.

For the ladies: your first instinct will be to buy black shoes, which are fine for dancing nights out on the town. However, you will want to purchase a nude or tan pair, preferably with an open toe and straps. This is an all around good shoe that you will be able to wear to lessons, out dancing, and even at competitions.

These are the shoes of Ballroom dancers. The idea behind it is it gives you a long leg line. Dance floors are, more often than not, brown in color and black shoes will stand out. You want people to watch your body, not your feet. This is similar to why Ballerinas wear pink/nude ballet shoes…it makes for pretty dancing.

You will see close-toe style pumps as well. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing these unless you are competing in a Smooth Ballroom Dance Competition. The shoes tend to be a bit stiffer and are definitely not for everyday use. When I was competing, I had to wear that style and my toes were squished in the closed toe – my big toe hasn’t been the same since.

Don’t worry though – this was only at a highly competitive level. Ladies’ shoes will come in a variety of heel heights. A 2.5 inch heel works great for pretty much everything. The 3 inch rhythm shoe is also fine if you are used to heels, otherwise, it isn’t necessary. Anything taller than that, in my opinion, will make balancing and dancing more difficult.

With all of this being said, I do believe there is some magic in dance shoes. You will not only dance better, but also feel better – that alone is worth the investment.

Live, Love, Dance and Enjoy!

BALLROOM DANCE IS A SIZZLING WORKOUT FOR SUMMER!

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EXERCISE TIPS: DANCE YOUR WAY INTO SUMMER

Let’s face it. The elliptical can get boring, running can wear on your joints, and making time to navigate all those people at the gym is just plain difficult. But this summer, it may be time to ditch your normal workout routine and explore a new and fun way to get in shape!

Health care professionals are starting to take notice of what ballroom dancing enthusiasts have claimed for years: dancing is great for your health! And it’s starting to catch on across the board.

Whether you favor the fast paced foxtrot, or the flow of the waltz, the cardiovascular, weight loss and overall muscle toning benefits of dancing score “perfect 10’s” across the board.

From a strictly athletic point of view, dancing also can be an incredible workout. It merges aerobic (like cardio) and anaerobic (like strength training) exercise, while increasing your overall stamina! You also will build leg and core strength, all while steadily burning calories and fat throughout the course of your dance lessons.

If you want to take your ballroom dance workout to the next level, there is one dance that stands out when it comes to dance health benefits.

Experts say that salsa dancing can burn up to 10 calories a minute, without the negative side effects of high impact exercises like running. That means, in an average 30 minute class, you can burn upwards of 300 calories, or 600 in an hour!

Dance is a Lifestyle Choice

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Dance is a Lifestyle Choice

When someone asks a dancer if they have any hobbies, they often say no. If the person persists and says, “But you dance, right?” the dancer might reply yes, but dance is more than a hobby. It’s a lifestyle choice.

Those who enjoy a dancing lifestyle experience many physical, psychological, and social benefits, whether they are young or old, frail or fit, and healthy or medically impaired:

Better Balance

Many studies have concluded that dancing can improve balance, even in elderly people, and improvements in gait, walking speed, reaction time, and cognitive and fine motor performance have been noted. According to a review published in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, dancing may help people struggling with the rigid muscles, slowed movement, and impaired balance characterized by Parkinson’s disease.

Mood Booster

Dancing has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress, and actually boost self-esteem, body image, the ability to cope, and an overall sense of well being, and best of all, the benefits last over time. The authors of a meta-analysis of 27 studies on the effectiveness of dance movement therapy wrote that dancing should be encouraged as part of the treatment plan for people suffering from depression and anxiety.

Heart Health

If dancing is vigorous enough to get the heart rate up, it can be a good form of aerobic exercise. For people with stable chronic heart failure, interval waltzing has been found to improve heart and blood vessel function and overall quality of life as much as a moderate aerobic exercise program did.

Weight Control

On the average, a 150-pound individual burns about 240 calories per hour dancing, 200 calories per hour for slow dances like tango, around 350 calories during faster dances like swing, and more than 500 calories during an hour of step aerobics dancing. One study even showed that dance helped control “emotional eating” in obese women who turn to food as a response to stress.

Find a Style to Suit

There are many different types of ballroom dance; so finding a style that suits you in terms of intensity, difficulty level, music type, and whether or not a partner is involved should not be too difficult:

  • If you want an upbeat, calorie-burning style of dance, give tap or swing a try.
  • If you want something more reserved, waltz might be an option.
  • Foxtrot is a good choice for beginners, while quickstep can be fun for more advanced dancers.
  • If you like your dancing spicy, try salsa or mambo.
  • Want to dance with passion? Tango may be for you.
  • If dancing with out a partner appeals to you, there is line, belly dance, ballet or tap and folk dancing.

Exercise with Benefits

Though other forms of exercise can have many of the same benefits, dancing is more appealing to most people, so they are more likely to stick with it. A study comparing tango dancing to mindfulness meditation found that 97 percent of participants chose to receive a voucher for a tango class rather than one for mindfulness meditation, and although both activities reduced depression, only dancing reduced stress levels. In another study, attendance was higher with waltzing than conventional exercise, possibly because “dance is a form of exercise in which movement, social interaction, and fun are mixed together,” the researchers concluded.

There’s really no downside to incorporating dance into your lifestyle and regular physical activity routine, and don’t overlook the social benefits: dancing is a great way to spend quality time with a partner and/or meet new people.