How to Extend the Life of Your Dance Shoes
Recommendations from Chicago Dance Supply
Canvas shoes (ballet and jazz):
Canvas shoes are preferred by dancers who like to “feel the floor”. They’re less expensive but wear out faster than leather. Here are some things you can do to help preserve your canvas shoes:
1. Alternate right and left ballet shoes to change pressure points.
2. Dry out shoes completely between wearings in a mesh shoe bag outside of your regular dance bag.
3. Keep in mind that canvas stretches less than leather when you are getting fit for shoes. Do not fit your shoes too small.
4. Clip toenails often to avid premature wear and tear on the inner liner.
5. Wash your shoes in cold with a mild detergent in a washing machine. Air dry. Keep in mind that your shoes will shrink slightly after drying, but then mold back to your foot after one wear.
6. Use pancake makeup on tan shoes to even out discolorations or to match your tights for performance.
Leather shoes offer support and an aesthetically pleasing look in which the shoe molds to the foot. Though more pricey than canvas, leather is durable and cleans easily. Consider the following when you wear leather dance shoes:
1. Keep in mind that leather will stretch ¼” with wear. Get professionally fitted for shoes.
2. Clip toenails often to avoid premature wear and tear on the inner liner.
3. Label your ballet shoes shoes “left” and “right” to get optimal molding of the leather to your foot.
4. Use saddle soap to clean the leather and polish to shine.
5. Use a silicon oil or polish to keep patent shoes from sticking and cracking.
6. For more even distribution of forces, use socks or nylons.
7. Dry your shoes completely between wearings in a mesh bag outside of your regular dance bag. Use shoe trees, balls of paper or shoe forms to retain the shape of the shoe while drying.
8. Put a dryer sheet in the shoe to freshen.
Suede sole shoes:
Suede is commonly used on the soles of ballet, ballroom and jazz shoes. It gives enough traction on wood floors for quick, controlled movements but allows for sliding and easy multiple spins. Here are some things you can do to care for your suede soled dance shoes:
1. Use suede soled shoes indoors. Avoid beer and other liquid spills in dance clubs.
2. Dry shoes completely between wearings.
3. Use shoe trees, shoe forms or balls of paper to retain the shape while drying.
4. Use a steel wire brush to clean the debris from the sole of the shoe.
5. If the shoe must be worn outdoors or on very uneven indoor surfaces, consider rubberizing the soles. You will still be able to enjoy the benefits of a light, flexible dance shoe which can be then used in or outdoors.
In general, pointe shoes made from natural fibers are designed to last for about 10 hours of dancing. Shoes made from synthetic fibers will last much longer. Many factors will influence this time frame, but there are several things that you can do to help maintain your shoes:
1. Dry your shoes at least 36 hours between wear time. Never try to reharden your shoes (eg. Jet glue) without drying them completely first.
2. Buy two pairs and alternate between them.
3. Take out your toe pads after use and dry your shoes in a mesh bag outside of your regular dance bag.
4. Pull drawstrings parallel to the floor instead of pulling straight up which can tear the drawstring casing or the drawstring itself.
5. Use moleskin to protect the box tip.
Tap Shoes (Jennifer Pfaff, Chicago Tap Theatre):
“The biggest thing I learned from it is wear socks!:) Regarding the screws: If you have a loose or stripped screw, just send it in to get fixed, otherwise be prepared to have a screwdriver in your pocket at all times.”