Investing In A Pair Of Character Heels 

There are many dance heels on the market.  I am going to focus on shoes that are best for general jazz, tap and musical theater dancing.  Heel sizes vary and should be determined based on your technique and training.  A lower heel is great for dancer new to heels, but can make the legs look shorter.  A heel that is too high can inhibit your dancing.  Find a heel size that’s right for you.  Generally, Broadway dancers use 2″-2.5″ heels on stage. 
 
I highly recommend buying shoes in person from a reputable dance store.  Buying online may save a few bucks, but for just a few dollars more, you will find the perfect shoe and fit in the store. 
 

I also recommend adding rubber the soles of your shoes before dancing in them.  It will help you feel grounded and more secure on stage.  Don’t dance on any of these shoes straight out of the box.  Invest a little more and have a cobbler add dance rubber.  More on this later…

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Junior Footlight Shoe

The Starter Shoe (for young dancers)  

The Jr. Footlight $41 Tan/Black

The FootLight™ has a soft upper with elegant, clean lines a supportive “arch cookie” for enhanced comfort. It offers a low heel for dancers that are just starting out.  You can’t beat the price, but it should be noted that these shoes are made with a plastic heel and PU, not full grade leather.

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Manhatten Shoe

The Pre-Professional Shoe

Manhattan Character Shoe $75 Tan/Black  

When you ready for a slightly higher heel, this shoe is a great choice.  Made with soft, supple leather, a foam cushioned insole and non-slip heel counter. This shoe has a 2.5″ plastic leather wrapped heel. A great shoe for dance competition or community theater.  This shoe is compatible with tele-tone taps. Taps are not included.

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Professional Character Heel

Closed Toe T-Strap $250 Tan/Black  

These shoes are made with top grade, full grain leather, hence the price tag. However, they are built to last. I’ve had mine 20+ years. They are hand stitched and have a full leather lining which will allow you to break them in easier and allow for a more perfect fit.  These shoes have a slightly higher 2 ¾” heel.  The t-strap adds an elegant touch!  They are also compatible with tele-tone taps.  Taps are not included.

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Latin Ballroom Heel

Aida Karina Tan Satin (Prices Vary)

This competitive ballroom latin shoe has a rounded toe and a flared 2.5″ heel.  The wrap around ankle-arch strap offers additional support. Most ballroom shoes have suede soles, so I suggest adding rubber to the bottom.  

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Bloch Split Flex Shoe

The Affordable Split Sole  

Bloch Split Flex $94.50 black

There are many split soles on the market. I have personally tried the Block Splitflex T-Strap and love the fit.  This shoe is suitable for character dance and interdisciplinary demi character work.  This affordable shoe offers support yet allows the dancer to create beautiful lines.  However, split soles are NOT for everyone.  I recommended these shoes for the advanced dancers with strong ballet and jazz technique. 

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LaDuca-The King Of Broadway 

Phil LaDuca, has worked as a dancer and choreographer for over 20 years. LaDuca shoes are made of the finest Italian leather and ensure the support and stability a dancer needs while affording the extreme flexibility that a dancer desires. 

LaDuca Elizabeth Soft Sole

LaDuca Elizabeth Soft Sole

Tan/Black $220

This shoe is for the advanced dancer that has extensive ballet and jazz training. Extra straps not only give the Elizabeth a sassy edge but they make her the most supportive LaDuca shoe. Made for Elizabeth Parkinson in Movin’ Out, this shoe has two straps at the toe box and crossing straps over the instep. Elizabeth makes sure even the most acrobatic dancer has the necessary support to fly through the air and land with confidence. This shoe has a 2.5” heel. Elizabeth has a soft suede sole to ensure maximum foot articulation.

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LaDuca Annie Can Can Boot Soft Sole

LaDuca Annie Can Can Boot Soft Sole 

$355 Tan/Black

These are by far the most expensive shoes on the list. However, if your foot has stopped growing, it’s worth the investment.  I’ve had pair of can can boots for over 20 years and with the exception of a little wear on the outside, these boots are like new and still fit like a glove.  The LaDuca French Can Can boot, was designed for Broadway legend Anne Reinking. The Annie combines supportive under-calf styling, a rounded form with a traditional toe cap, and a side zipper that aides in quick and easy changes. Annie has a soft sole for maximum articulation.  The Annie Can Can boot has a 2.5” heel. 

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Shoes with Rubber Soles

Suede or Dance Rubber Soled Shoes 

While I was in NYC, I only danced in heels with rubber on the sole. The Capezio Cabaret Shoes pictured left (which unfortunately they don’t make anymore) are from the Broadway Show “Little Me” with Martin Short (1998) which I still wear to this day. Both the sole and the heel have dance rubber.  If I tried to jazz dance non-rubbered or soft soled shoes, it would feel like I was dancing on ice. I personally recommend rubber on the bottom of any heels for competition dancers and any jazz/musical theater dancing. It might feel a little “sticky” at first, but the rubber will start to wear slightly over time, and it will eventually be the perfect blend of grip and smoothness on the dance floor. “Golosh” Dance Rubber is used by most Broadway shows and tours. It is meant to be applied by a professional Cobbler. Some cobblers may know this dance rubber to be called “Cat’s Paw”. Either one works!!!


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