The secrets of… Strictly dance shoes

October 21, 2010

Ballet, Strictly Come Dancing

Ballet NEWS

Ola Jordan (and Paul Daniels) wearing Latin dance shoes Photograph : BBC Pictures

In the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing series 6, Camilla Dallerup lifted the glitterball trophy with her celebrity partner Tom Chambers in 2008. Who could forget their show dance ?

So, in response to your questions about the dance shoes worn on Strictly, who better to ask for some insider secrets than former champion, Camilla ?

Ballet NEWS, Strictly

Camilla Dallerup Photograph : Lee Collier

Camilla tells me that, “amazingly, the shoes are surprisingly comfortable. The dance shoes we wear for ballroom and Latin dancing have been developed over many years by top shoe manufacturers and world class dancers. They are designed to give us support in the right places & to be balanced correctly.” 

This is especially important in the Latin dances, where the shoes are “designed to follow the foot when stretched. The Latin shoe feels completely like an extension of your foot and you are hardly aware that you are wearing it. If you were to do Latin without wearing a Latin dance shoe I would say that there are moves that you wouldn’t be able to do very well because of the shoes.  Equally, when you wear the correct footwear it can enhance the movement and make it easier to arch and stretch your feet.”  And you’ll have heard from the judges how important a pointed foot is, and how it completes the all-important line of a dancer when correctly performed.  

Camilla lets me in on some secrets, “one of the interesting things you will find is that the ballroom dancers normally wear a lower heel than the Latin dancers. That is because in the Latin we need to have our weight further forward onto the balls of our feet, and you will find that even the men’s heels are little Cuban heels (higher than the ballroom) to make sure that they have their weight forward on the ball of the foot.”

Camilla says that “in ballroom this is not the case. Because of the hold and how close you are to one another it is not necessary to have the weight that far forward and actually it would be difficult for two people to move around the floor effortlessly if they did. For women the Latin shoe heels are normally around 3 to 3 1/2 inches and ballroom heels 2 to 2 1/2 inches. Ballroom dancers normally feel happier with a bit of a smooth floor to glide across while Latin dancers like a more sticky/oily floor to use when dancing into the floor.”

Last week Head judge Len Goodman suggested that Michelle Williams should try a lower heel, and if you remember that was all about correcting the position of her weight.

Ballet NEWs, Strictly

Pamela Stephenson wearing ballroom shoes

I asked Camilla what the shoes are made from, and she told me “the soles are made of suede so they last a long time and you can brush them with a special steel brush to make them non-slippery, or leave them and they get more slippery.  Many Latin dancers put castor oil underneath to get a great non-slip shoe.”

I know that a lot of people are concerned about the shape or size of their own feet and about how suitable they may be for wearing dance shoes, especially if you also have bunions to content with.  Camilla has very sensible advice, “I have been very lucky with my feet and not had any bunions, as I have always worn the correct footwear when dancing and sensible footwear when off the dance floor!”

You can see photographs of the Strictly dancers here, and you can study their shoes. If you would like to know more about Camilla’s dance shoes, they are made by DanceAmo.

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4 Responses to “The secrets of… Strictly dance shoes”

  1. Anne Sanderson Says:

    Nice to have a technical article on a very specific subject like this.

  2. Ballet News Says:

    thanks Anne. There is a lot more on the way !

  3. Raymond Says:

    Your article was very imformative. Especially your tip about appling castor oil to the dance shoe to prevent slipping.


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