Shoes – part II: Dancing Barefoot (or almost)
The romantic image of a dancer with bare feet is one that appears quite often. The first suggestion a lot of people will give you is to go commando, so to speak. And while this is perfectly nice and comfortable, in our little corner of the World this is not usually a wise idea, as the weather is often damp and cold. If you have to dance on surfaces that are not scrupulously clean, you will also find that your feet can become quite dirty very quickly. Also, if you have any illness that results in immune system deficiencies, you will be adviced by your health carer to avoid walking barefoot as much as possible, so some type of protection is required.
If you still want that bare feet feel but require some protection, there are other options you can explore. Most of them have been developed for lyrical dance, but are used widely and successfully for bellydancing.
Capezio’s Footundeez, aside from having a funny name, also have a funny shape. They do look like low-rise male briefs made for teensy trolls, and this impression is enhanced by the suede patch at the back, that makes you think of sliding down trees or river beds. They are made of strong powermesh. You put them in with your big toe as one of the “legs” and the rest of your toes in the other opening, and they are ideal for the hot months, dancing on grass, if you prefer to have free toes to have extra grip over an uneven surface, or if you want the advantages of a thicker soft skin under the ball of your feet while dancing with the comfort of not wearing anything at all.
There are two versions, the standard and the full body, which adds a similar protection for your heel, and should be enough coverage to make everybody feel their feet are safe. The one problem I’ve found with the standard version is that after a while of dancing or turning, for me, the open end tends to rotate, requiring adjusting every other dance or more often. This can be distracting. The full cover version might not have this issue due to the back anchoring them properly, but I haven’t used them to be able to tell. They are also *quite* tight, so those with wider feet will more than likely need to go one size higher.
There are tons of really fun prints for these, from black with skulls to pink with frills, but I have been completely unable to find any of these fun ones in the UK, and everybody seems to stock just the serious nude ones.
These are similar to Footundeez in concept: some padding and protection for the ball of the feet, trying to make the upper side as inconspicuous as possible. Bloch has several different models, and which one you choose will depend a lot on your style of dancing and what fits you best. I’ve only used Bloch’s 675 and found the exact same problem I found with the Footundeez. However, much as the shifting annoyed me, it was quite liberating to dance with them, and if I could find a way of correcting the shifting, I would be using them far more often in the summer.
Other similar options are DancePawnz, although I haven’t used these at all. Just remember, if you do need extra cushioning for your feet, or require full coverage, neither of the above will work, except maybe the Full Body Footundeez, so be careful when choosing these. And if in doubt, head over to your local dance shop and try them on!