Fear of Falling
I think that everyone at some time has felt anxious about falling on the dance floor; whether it be fear of being injured or fear of embarrassment. Everyone has had at least one “slip” or near miss that has made us wary of falling. This fear can prevent us from dancing our best as we often restrict our stride to maintain control. The great news is, there are a bunch of tools we can add to our inventory to build confidence on the floor.
Part 1: Dance Shoes - The Dancer’s Instrument
A dancer’s instrument is their shoes; and like any instrument, they require care and attention. Here are some key points to consider when acquiring Dance Shoes.
Wear shoes that Fit
I can’t stress this enough. Unlike regular shoes, close enough is not good enough when it comes to fitting a dance shoe. Shoes need to be firm, but comfortable. Your feet and ankles should not slide in the shoe. If your foot can move around then you risk injury. The fit can be improved by using insoles or binding tape, by tightening straps and buckles, wearing thicker socks, or using clear shoe bands. If the shoes are consistently rubbing and causing blisters, try shoes in a different style; such as a lower cut at the back, or a wider fit across the toes.
Shoe heels are made of different types of plastic. Some with softer plastic provide excellent contact with the floor and do not easily slip. Some shoes (often cheaper brands), have very hard plastic heels which easily slip on the floor. To counter this, try attaching soft rubber heel grips to the shoe or heel tips with suede on the bottom. Alternatively, you can add a square of suede directly to the heel of the shoe. If the height of the heel makes you anxious, try a lower heel or a different style of heel. Heel placement should also be considered - the further back it is on the shoe, the greater the stability.
Refurbish the Suede
If you find your soles are wearing out before your shoes are (I wish!), instead of replacing your comfortable worn-in shoes, try replacing the suede on the sole. This will increase the longevity of your shoes and improve traction.
Part 2: Adapt to the Floor
Achieving the ideal consistency of wax on the dance floor is every Studio Manager’s dream (and nightmare!!). No one wants a floor that is too sticky or too slick and every dancer has their own definition of an ideal floor (and are generally quite vocal about it!). A sticky floor can result in trips, a slick floor can result in slips.
Having the right instrument (i.e. shoes) goes a long way to building our confidence when moving on the dance floor, however, it does not always alleviate our fear of falling due to unpredictable dance surfaces. From a dancer’s perspective, there is not a lot we can do about the floor, but we CAN manage how our shoes perform on it.
Here are three useful tools to keep in your dance tool kit:
Anti-Slip Wax Powder
If the floor is too slick, try rubbing Anti-Slip Wax Powder into the sole.
If the floor is too sticky, add some Talcum Powder to the sole.
And finally, Shoe Brushes are an essential tool used to remove excess wax from the bottom of shoes which may have become too hard and smooth. Brushing the sole also texturises the suede to increase traction on the floor.