A long time ago, before shoes, humans walked barefoot on land. The earth, sand, mud, everything would press against our arches and support them as we walked. Now a day that simply isn’t the case for the vast majority of us and our once healthy arches begin to flatten as we wear unsupportive shoes or dance barefoot.
Many of you have seen me belly dancing in Orlando, FL over the years with my dance paws, or wearing slippers during workshops and have asked me why, so read below to see why.
As belly dancers shoes are something we need to pay more attention to. Why? Because for most styles, we are dancing barefoot on flat surfaces for hours and hours every week. This leads to a lot of knee torque for dancers who spin a lot in their shows, flattened arches, and pain. If you teach, the number of hours you dance without support go up even more.
In modern styles of belly dance we are seeing more and more spins being done and concerns about knee health arise as we do not use shoes to give us less resistance with the floor. This is why I am going to recommend practicing, taking workshops, and even performing with some variations of footwear.
If you love using spins like I do, I recommend performing with dance paws, or ballet slippers. While this may not remedy the arch support issue, it does save your knees during your performance.
During practice try adding an arch support insert into your ballet shoes and experimenting with how best to tighten your shoe so it stays in place. Some girls wrap the middle of their foot around the arch support so it stays on place. Others place velcro or a soft adhesive.
While this may not be as free as practicing with bare feet, it will keep your body healthier as your arches and knees will be much happier and ultimately better for you lower back.
If you decide to perform with dance paws at a show make sure to get a size that feels nice and tight on your feet. Anything that doesn’t squeeze is going to be too lose and slip off when your turning. I learned this the hard way. Make sure to test them at the dance store by you and feel how nicely they turn on the floor.
I know using shoes is not authentic in many styles of belly dance, but the dance has evolved, and as the envelope continues to be pushed and a higher degree of strain placed on our bodies due to more modern infusions being added into the dance, this is becoming a necessity for many.