Just like any other style of dance shoes, jazz shoes are designed specifically for use in a dance studio. Split sole jazz shoes usually have a very thin sole which is made from suede which is not suitable for outdoor use. This is because suede soles are easily damaged by abrasive surfaces such as tarmac or concrete used on pavements. In addition to this, the split soles are designed to support only the toes and heels in order to allow optimum flexibility for the dancer’s foot. This means that there is little or no sole underneath the arch which is not ideal for walking. Even if you wear full sole shoes, it’s best to resist the temptation to walk to and from dance class in them as they will pick up grit and dirt which can damage the dance studio floor.
When it comes to choosing jazz shoes they’re available in a wide range of styles, colours and fabrics. The main fabrics available are leather and canvas. Leather is usually the most expensive option but it’s also the hardest wearing making it the most recommended. It will also mould to the shape of your foot over time which makes leather ones very comfortable and also very attractive to look at. Canvas is also relatively hard wearing but shoes made from this fabric are not quite so easy to care for as those made from leather. This is because canvas cannot be wiped down in the same way that leather can be which means that it can be easily marked or stained. It is also difficult to remove any debris from it which may be picked up from the studio floor. On the other hand though, it is light and comfortable and offers a cheaper alternative to leather.
Jazz shoes are also available as lace-ups or slip-on. It’s worth trying both to find out which style you prefer and also to find out which ones offer the best fit. Some dancers find that lace-ups can rub a little or dig into the foot so therefore prefer slip-ons. This is by no means the consensus though so it’s really down to your own personal choice.
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