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Can Dance Shoes Be Worn Outside?

It's officially warm and dance studios are having classes outside. At our store, we're always being asked, "can my child wear their dance shoes outside?"

For dancers, as for any sport, it's important to have the right equipment. When attending outdoor dance camps, dancers don't have access to the sprung floors found in their indoor studios to provide safety and protection while they're practicing. We want to use dance shoes for dance, rather than street shoes. These shoes help protect our feet from dancing barefoot on rough surfaces, which can cause blisters on your heels and toes.

Can dance shoes can be worn outside the dance studio?

The answer is yes! …well mostly, but there are some things to keep in mind.

What Should I Know About Dancing Outside?

Can You Wear Dance Shoes Outside?

Wearing appropriate clothing such as clothes and shoes is essential. Take note of where you are dancing, the weather, and what type of surface you will be dancing on. It's important to note that the shoes will wear faster and you will get fewer hours and use out of them when they are worn outdoors.

If you're using a pair of dance shoes outdoors, don't use them inside too.

Similar to street shoes, it is best to wear your old shoes outside or buy a new pair for outdoor use only. The dirt, rocks, mud & grass from the outdoor environment will destroy a dance floor if they are used back in the studio.

If you don't want to buy new shoes to use outdoors, replace your inside shoes with new ones and use your old shoes outside only.

Fit is more important than ever when you dance on uneven surfaces.

Remember, dance shoes should fit snuggly. Dancers should be able to rely on their shoes for safety. Too much extra fabric around the shoe, especially around the toe, creates tripping hazards and can cause injury. Dust and debris on the ground are enough for dancers to worry about, but they shouldn't have to fear tripping over their shoes.

How do I know if shoes don't fit right?

When the dancer is able to rise onto demi-pointe and back down without the heel of the shoe shifting on their feet, or worse when their heels are sticking out of the shoes completely, that's a sign that they have too much room in them. Dancers should be able to focus fully when attempting each step, so a loose-fitting dance shoe is undesirable.

Of course, shoes that are too tight are also a problem. If your feet have grown beyond the shoe, it's better to let them go than risk injury.

I like to fit large to accommodate growing feet.

If you're worried about providing growing room in a dance shoe, leather shoes are a great idea since they will stretch as the dancer wears them. And leather is more durable in harsh conditions.

That said, wearing any shoe outside will cause it to deteriorate much faster, so you might consider a fit that is more comfortable snug since the shoe may not last long enough for the feet to grow a half size.

How do different materials perform outside?

Just like everyday sneakers or dress shoes are meant to protect our feet, all dance shoes are made out of materials meant to cushion the dancer's feet.

Canvas Dance Shoes

When canvas is worn outside, it will become really dirty. This is because canvas material absorbs water and dirt. Canvas material is thin and allows for breathing room, which dancers love. Canvas is generally more slippery on a dance floor which is why most canvas shoes use suede to create traction.

However, the canvas will develop holes relatively quickly wherever toes are pressing on concrete or asphalt separate from the suede bottom.

Leather Dance Shoes

Leather dance shoes are made to fit comfortably and provide a sleek look for practice and performance. Leather shoes naturally stretch when worn. These dance shoes are sometimes made with suede on the inside to provide grip when dancing.

Leather is a more durable material than canvas and will be able to withstand the harsh elements while protecting your dancer's feet.

Suede Soled Dance Shoes

Suede soles are commonly found on the bottom of most ballet shoes. Suede is flexible, durable, and lasts longer than other soles — it’s good for the dancer.

Suede creates traction on the dance floor which is important to keep the dancer comfortable when turning. Suede will wear down and become smooth when worn inside. However, when it isn't used in a studio, it will rip, tear and become worn down unevenly.

What About The Types Of Dance Shoe?

All dance shoes are designed to naturally damage faster when they are worn in harsher conditions. It is important to protect the toe, heel, and everything in between when dancing on a new uneven surface. Dancers are used to a flat even surface in an indoor setting.

Most styles of dance shoes will come in multiple materials, and even vegan options designed to suit the dancer's needs.

Wearing Ballet Shoes Outside

Ballet Shoes

Ballet is all about technique, turnout, and elegance. These dance moves come from a dancer's traction with the floor. The constant wear between ballet shoes and the dance floor causes the shoe to wear down slowly. Now imagine doing a grand battement on the pavement! It'd be like nails on a chalkboard!

Oftentimes, you'll see dancers with holes in their canvas ballet shoes because their toes have busted through them and the canvas has worn down. This goes to show how thin canvas ballet shoes are, even though many people agree that they show a more gracious line.

You can find these products and others like it in our Ballet Slippers Collection.

Wearing Jazz Shoes Outside

Jazz Shoes

When walking every day in street shoes, our weight is usually distributed over the whole foot. Jazz shoes have a small-inch heel on the back of them, which is why your first pair could feel uncomfortable. These heels help to position the dancer's weight over the ball of their foot. The bottom of the jazz shoe is often rubber with a grip to prevent the dancers from slipping. These rubber soles help jazz dancers keep their movement grounded and secure. The shoe has a rubber sole and heel, with the middle of the shoe made of just material, which allows for extra support in the dancer's arch.

Jazz shoes provide extra support which comes in handy when dancing on pavement and gravel.

Traditional dance shoes are made of suede and leather, but these materials also don't allow for a lot of traction when dancing on concrete or asphalt surfaces.

You can find these products and others like it in our Jazz Shoes Collection.

Wearing Dance Sneakers Outside

Dance Sneakers

Using dance sneakers outside is pretty ideal, as you get the flexibility of a dance shoe, so you can point and the foot is articulated for the teacher to see and make any needed correction. With the durability of a dance sneaker. it's a great combination of a shoe that is made for dance, but also great for wearing on various outside surfaces.

The worry with wearing non-dance sneakers for dance is that the dancer can develop "lazy feet". By not having the room built into the shoe to fully extend the point of the foot during dance training, the structure of the shoe can cause bad form in the foot over time. Bad form is always harder to correct later than to avoid in training.

You can find these products and others like it in our Dance Sneakers Collection.

Wearing Contemporary Shoes Outside

Contemporary shoes such as turners, half soles, and foot-paws are the opposite of street shoes.

Wearing Lyrical Dance Shoes or Turners Outside

Contemporary Turning Shoes

Turners cover half of the dancer's foot and usually have elastics attached to the back of them, to keep the shoe on the foot. Turners are close-toed, which keeps their toes out of the way when they turn.

The So Danca half-sole exposes the dancer's heels and allows them to turn in style.

Wearing Foot Paws & FootUndeez Outside

Foot Paws & Foot Undeez

Foot-paws & FootUndeez are open-toed and provide protection for the sole of the dancer's foot.

All of these contemporary dance shoes will naturally wear down in a studio environment and are typically made using four-way stretch canvas and a plush elastic and silicone-lined second elastic. These shoes use a suede sole which helps create traction between the cloth material, the dancer, and the dance floor.

Usually, dancers will wear out their contemporary shoes before they outgrow them on a dance floor. The wear on these shoes only increases when they're worn in the street parking lots.

You can find these products and others like it in our Modern & Lyrical Dance Shoes Collection.

Limit Use of Dance Socks Outside

Dance sicks are absolutely not for outdoor wear on most surfaces for obvious reasons. However, dance socks are a great option outside with a portable dance floor or on smooth surfaces with some give, similar to an inside dance floor.

Dance socks cover the toe, heel, and ankle. A lot of dance socks act as a barrier between and are made specifically for a smooth dance floor. If dance socks are used to practice on foam, gravel, or other surfaces, these socks will become worn quickly and lose their traction and be ruined.

Are dance socks like normal socks?

No, dance socks are designed specifically for use on a smooth, clean floor. There are three different types of dance socks. Each sock provides comfort & and compression.

The Traction Style

Traction Socks

The Traction style eliminates the fabric bulk and uncomfortable seams underfoot that exist on all other dance footwear. Like a shoe, the traction is designed to wear down until you reach your preferred level of grip. Once it goes past that level - there are traction refreshers to bring it back to the level you need. 

You can find this product and others like it in our Dance Socks collection.

The Non-Traction Style of Dance

Non-Traction Dance Sock

The non-traction style of dance socks don't have the traction element but have compression technology and a snug fit in the toe to accentuate the dancer’s point while dancing.

You can find this product and others like it in our Dance Socks collection.

The Capezio Life Knit Sock

Capezio Life Knit Sock

The Capezio Life Knit Sock has strategically placed compression points to reinforce and lift and cushioning to improve performances. This style is a perfect medium between a sock with and without traction.

Each of these socks is designed for the dancer's preference. The flexible and sleek look to the socks goes with any style. The socks can be worn outside so long as they aren't being used directly on gravel and pavement.

You can find this product and others like it in our Dance Socks collection.

What You Absolutely Need to Know

The most important thing to know when wearing your dance shoes outside is to keep the dancer comfortable while protecting their feet and joints! Choose the best shoe to support the foot and cushion impacts on the outdoor surface, and be careful of uneven imperfections that could cause injury. No matter the style, material or fit of the shoe, it is important to buy shoes that the dancer will feel comfortable in so that the fit of their dance shoes is the least of their worries.

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