You probably asked yourself this very question too at one point, most likely at the beginning of your dance journey. Oh, and what an important and smart question that is!
Wearing the wrong type of shoe can make dancing in heels that much more difficult, uncomfortable, impractical and can unintentionally make your dancing look messy - yikes! We care about you and it is our great responsibility as teachers to make it perfectly clear about what type of „equipment“ to choose, that is why we decided to write this guide with all the necessary information for you (spoiler alert: and even a discount code!). You don’t have to figure it out on your own anymore, here we are guiding you through this. No more frustration or desperation. We are sure, that this will once and for all, solve all the problems you may have surrounding your heels. I know - life changing, right?!
... and 5, 6, 7, 8!
There are a few basic guidelines you have to follow when choosing your dance heels. If you follow them once, it won’t be hard at all choosing a shoe anymore in the future. It will be like 1+1!
Hands down, the most important thing, not only so we can be mentally more focused on the actual training but also to spare our physical bodies, is COMFORT. Aren’t we all looking for that in heels? - when we are dancing a choreography but also when we are simply just walking or posing. Your body will thank you in the long run.
After many years of trial and error, to then having so many AHA moments, we now accumulated enough experience to know what we are talking about. Some options are simply better than others. These are some of our recommendations:
Rule #1: Appropriate Shape
Generally, there are two types of different heel shapes: flared and stiletto. The flared shape is more suitable for latin and ballroom dancing. Flared means the heel gets wider at the bottom. The stiletto shape is more suitable for street jazz or hip-hop style based heels classes. So now that we know that, we know where we belong: in the world of Stilettos!
Stilettos are super sexy because they have a thin heel. These are the type of shoes you need to look for! However, if your heart desires to choose a flared heel, it’s okay to start with those as well.
Don’t go anywhere chunkier than a flared heel. The chunkier the heel, the more surface you might have to stand on, which logically means more stability, however, a lot of times it’s even more difficult to dance in a chunky heel and it simply won’t look as elegant. If you can, don’t take a dance class in a chunky heel.
Stilettos it is!
Rule #2: Appropriate Height
The choice of heel height is really personal. You need to feel comfortable in your heels, whether in terms of stability or self-confidence: so choose a pair of heels whose height make you feel beautiful and confident!
Anything between 7 to 11 cm is suitable and works fine, depending on what you are used to walk in. The higher and thinner the heel, the slimmer and more prominent your silhouette will be. A 10 cm stiletto is the ideal medium heel height. You can start with 7 cm and dance yourself up to 11 cm, or even more if you can - but remember, the higher the heel, the more you need to be able to stretch the wrists of your feet! Contrary to popular belief: we are training athletes, technical dancers & growing performers - your talent, ability & skill set isn’t defined by how high your heel is. Be a smart dancer instead!
If you’re a beginner and 7 cm still feels too high for you, as much as we want to inspire you to go for a flared heel which will make you handle the height easier, regardless, we recommend you starting with a lower height stiletto heel. Dancing in anything else has a very different feel to it and might even look a bit clumsy. YOU GOT THIS, babe.
Rule #3: Ankle Boot
If we haven’t mentioned it yet, usually we go for a heeled ankle boot - a shoe that reaches above the ankle. The tighter the shoes hug your ankles, the better. We love a good hug! Straps and adjustable laces here are super useful as they tend to support your ankles a lot more. YAY!
You could even go for knee-high or over-the-knee type heels if that’s your style. More advanced heels dancers can definitely dance in pumps. A pump brings a whole different vibe! If you can dance in these, you can dance in any high heel. But make sure that the peroneal muscles (the muscles on the outside of your ankles) are strong enough for a pump.
PRO TIP: Strengthen your peroneal muscles by going up on your tippy toes and down with control as many times as you can while brushing your teeth. Yup. We need those a lot for dancing in heels.
Rule #4: Peep Toe
A peep toe is perfect, that’s it. If you happen to not know what that is, it’s when the toes are visible. A peep toe gives you the full freedom to really point your feet. Alternatively an open sandal heel can work too. Pointy toes is where it gets tricky. Shoes that have a pointed toe can limit you from actually pointing your toes, sometimes your whole leg can look like it’s not a line. And we always want to create beautiful lines. If you are a trained heels dancer, you are welcome to wear pointed toe shoes, but we don’t necessarily recommend beginners to do so. PSA: get yourself some peep toe heels, just to be safe!
While we’re at it, refrain from getting shoes that have the actual heel of your foot exposed. It takes away some of that stability you worked so hard for. Make sure your heel is covered, that way especially in floor parts your heel can’t slip out of the shoe - same thing could happen in pumps.
PRO TIP: Always bring a pair of socks to wear no matter if your shoes are open, have a peep toe or else. Our feet sweat too and so it can get sweaty and slippery inside your shoe which will make you almost unable to dance - that's when your socks come into play.
Rule #5: Indoor Heels & Soles
No, we’re not talking about heeled house shoes, girl, but we’re not dancing on the street either. We are dancing in a studio (or on stage), so make sure to have at least one pair of heels only for the purpose of training and don’t wear them outside. Small stones or even glass might get stuck onto the heel of your outdoor shoes and this would ruin the floor in the dance studio. Be respectful!
In addition to that, you should choose a pair that has a suede sole.
PRO TIP: This is how you can tell if you have a high quality shoe that’s made for dancing or not! Suede soles are suitable for parquet floor - suede soles are softer than normal soles, which makes for instance pointing the feet easier. Turns are usually smoother too because you can glide more easily across the floor. Most heels come with a so-called „all floor sole“. These are regular soles as we know them, and are fine too. Don’t pick a shoe with a rubber sole, as these tend to be too sticky on the floor and can leave unpleasant marks. That’s a no-go!
Rule #6: No Platform!
Say bye-bye to the thought of getting platform heels, honey. Since we need to feel the floor with our toes at all times, it’s smarter to go for a pair without any platform - yes, they might be more comfortable to walk in on the street or during a night out, because the platform reduces the height of the heel, but it won’t help you at all if you want to actually take a dance class in them: platform → less grip → less stability and the stability is exactly what we want to achieve. The dangerous risk of your ankle snapping over is very high in a platform heel, so stay away from them! Also, especially during floor parts where you need to push yourself back onto your foot, a platform will be in your way.
WHO IS ?
What inspired us to write this whole blogpost is that we finally found the perfect store to buy the perfect dance heels. I KNOW! It’s crazy. We are so happy and excited to share this with you!
The store we want to introduce to you all is JOHEELA (@joheela_danceshoes). Joheela is an online retailer based in Paris, France. This young Parisian brand breaks the codes of dance heels. Their goal is to highlight women and men who dance in heels with trendy, resolutely modern, comfortable and customizable models, in order to bring out the best in each dancer. They provide shoes that are not just super stylish but that are specifically made only to dance in. And this is game changing for us! They are definitely a good choice because you can extend your legs and point your toes in these properly.
For certain, these shoes will absolutely enhance your silhouette, reveal your femininity, sensuality and character, like none other. We can promise out of our own experience that Joheela shoes are comfortable and they check off all our requirement boxes. You will almost forget about being in a heel when you dance: Joheela offers you a faultless comfort to allow you to dance with passion without worrying about hurting your feet. THANK YOU!
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Rule #7: Cute Design
Period. Most of our hearts skip a beat when looking at a gorgeous pair of heels, right? It may sound so obvious, but after reading about all those guidelines, it’s important to not forget to choose a pair of heels that you are completely in love with because they look so good. You have to feel confident and sometimes the shoe really helps you bring that out more. Pick a design that suits your individual style, express yourself with your shoe! There are so many different cute options to choose from. Come to class looking and feeling your best - whatever that means for you.
All these tips not only make your personal growth and experience in class better, it is also important for your teacher. If you wear a shoe like mentioned above, it is so much easier for us to correct you during class and then for you to be able to adapt right away. We want to be able to see your leg extensions and lines.
Be patient with your progress, as dancing, and not just in high heels, is a life-long learning process. Your feet need time to get used to the feeling and build the muscles. In the beginning your feet will hurt - A LOT - we’re not gonna lie to you, but after a while your hard work and the pain you might have felt will all pay off.
It is so important to invest in a good pair of heels to suitably train in. You will spend so many passionate hours wearing them, they are your constant companion through the growth and hard work.
Joheela is a shoe we can truly recommend. The amazing thing about this brand is that you are actually able to customize your heel so that it works best for you: shape, height and sole. Yes! Each dancer is unique and so are their shoes. You can enjoy a wide choice of styles and customization.
We are so grateful that there is finally a heels brand that we, as Vienna Heels, stand behind. Not only are the brand’s owners so very lovely, but they also represent all that we do.
No more worrying about what type of heels to get and where to get them. Vienna Heels and Joheela got you! Happy shopping!
Make sure to tag @joheela_danceshoes and @viennaheels if you post a picture of your lovely new shoes on Instagram.
We genuinely hope this guide has helped you a ton - if for some reason you have any further questions, you can always feel free to speak to us at our weekly heels classes or directly contact Joheela on Instagram if you need any help while shopping on their website www.joheela-shop.com
Your Vienna Heels Team