Any dancer knows how crucial the right pair of shoes is for performance. After all, it’s hard to execute turns and leaps when you’re suffering from a scratchy lining or flimsy elastic that just won’t stay in place. Rather than let you spend hours searching online for the perfect pair, we’ve done the shopping for you and rounded up the best dance shoes for every kind of dance class. For ballet, you’ll want a ballet slipper that hugs your foot without gapping when your toes are straight. Leather styles are great for beginners since they tend to be stiffer and help you build muscle, while more experienced dancers may prefer canvas styles that enhance the arch. For jazz class, you’ll want a flexible, full-foot silhouette. Ballroom dance pairs have soft suede soles for smooth moves, but that is not the case for footwear used for hip-hop routines, which should offer more traction for staccato movements. Character shoes provide a durable base that won’t limit your mobility on stage and tap shoes should include dual taps on the sole to allow you to make the desired sounds. Read on to shop all our top picks for all categories of dance.
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1. Capezio Daisy Ballet Shoe
Capezio has delivered quality dance shoes since 1887 (even the pros wear their styles), and this ballet shoe from the brand lives up to that reputation. It’s made with soft yet sturdy leather, a bar-tacked drawstring that won’t easily pull out and a treated suede outsole that resists moisture.
Pros: From the inside, a daisy print lining adds a fun touch, while a satin ID tag will help you keep track of your pair. These shoes come in narrow, medium and wide widths, as well as three colors: classic pink, black and white to suit your preference.
Cons: These tend to run small.
2. Linodes Jazz Shoe
These genuine leather jazz shoes offer great quality for the price. They’re soft, flexible and durable enough to last multiple classes and performances.
Pros: While nearly every jazz shoe features a split sole design, this pair is special in that it includes a slight insert to support the arch. The fabric lining is smooth to the touch. They come in both black and tan.
Cons: These tend to run big and wide in the toe box.
3. Stelle Character Dance Shoes
Complete with memory foam cushioning, a soft breathable lining and just the right amount of height, these character shoes will keep you comfortable during salsa, musical theater class and more.
Pros: Although these shoes are not made of real leather, the imitation material is durable. The ankle strap keeps your foot locked in place, while the round, roomy toe box makes the style great for people with wide feet.
Cons: The outsole isn’t as grippy as it is in other name-brand options, so this style may not be ideal for dancing on slick hardwood floors (it’s best suited for painted stages or asphalt outdoors).
4. TTdancewear Ballroom Dance Shoes
TTdancewear’s pair has quick-release, buckled straps for easy on and off.
Pros: Available in 2.5-inch and 3-inch heel options, these dance shoes come in a variety of colorful rhinestone-adorned styles for your most festive dance costumes.
Cons: These may run small.
5. Theatricals Lace Up Tap Shoes
Theatricals’ classic oxford-style tap shoe includes a cushioned sock lining for a comfortable feel.
Pros: Made with a nonskid rubber patch to prevent falls, these tap shoes use screw-on taps with soundboards, a heel counter and a 1-inch heel.
Cons: This pair may not be as flexible as other types of dance shoes.
6. Sansha Motion Dance Sneakers
Hip-hop dance differs from classical styles given its more staccato movements and modern choreography. This means you need a more contemporary shoe like Sansha’s sneakers.
Pros: Though they resemble an everyday style, these sneakers are made to dance in; they have a split sole for a full range of flexibility with a rubber sole to reduce slips and add traction. The mesh panels mixed with the suede uppers create breathability for comfortable wear.
Cons: These may run small.
7. Bloch Split Sole Ballet Shoes
Bloch’s split-sole ballet shoes have been trusted by the dance community since the 1930s and worn by new ballerinas and principal dancers.
Pros: With securely crossed elastic straps and added front and rear leather sole pads, these ballet shoes are made to adhere to the arch of the foot seamlessly. Shock-absorbing cushioning in the heel helps with jumps and mobility as well.
Cons: The brand recommends starting two sizes down from your normal street shoe size.