The first time for anything can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience. If you’re new to dance, you’re probably worried about finding the perfect gear to help you succeed in the foreseeable future, especially when there are so many shoes to choose from! If you’re starting out with ballet, the choice between going full or split sole is dependent on your dance experience and age. However, other factors such as the material of shoes (leather or canvas) boils down to the dancer’s personal preference. Dance studios and tenured dancers will always have their favourite pick and recommendations but we’ve short listed three reputable and well trusted brands that you can check out for yourself before making that first purchase.
Note that while many of these companies started out with the ballet scene, they have expanded their inventory to other dance genres such as tap, jazz, latin dance, and contemporary.
This company began with Salvatore Capezio from Lucana (Italy) in 1887 who opened a shoe repair shop in New York City, right across from the Metropolitan Opera House. His entrance into the dance scene blossomed after an emergency shoe repair for a famous Polish opera star, Jean de Reszke, who praised Capezio for his craftsmanship. The rest was history. Capezio was officially appointed as the Metropolitan Opera House after dancers used his shop as the main meeting hub during their free time. After Capezio’s passing, the brand lived on to meet the needs for different generations of performers with the expansion on dance apparels, such as the modern leotard.
Capezio’s brand has continued to marry style with practicality – leading dance apparels on MTV during the 1980s and 1990s, and fashion runways including Vogue, Elle, and Cosmopolitan. It has been endorsed by Dance Mom’s winner Maddie Ziegler and World of Dance contestant Kayla Mak.
Many dancers are loyal to the Capezio brand when it comes to selecting their ballet slippers. This is probably because Capezio slippers are made of soft materials which provide dancers the extra comfort. Another additional bonus that comes to no surprise for its fashionable history, is the ways in which the slippers provide dancers’ a nice flattering professional look. Ballet slippers are notorious for being smaller than your expected shoe size. When it comes to ordering a pair of Capezio, it is recommended to order 1.5-2 sizes larger than your street shoe size.
Other dance shoes available: tap, jazz, character, ballroom, contemporary, etc.
Jacob Bloch began his journey making pointe shoes in Sydney Australia in 1932 when he noticed a ballet dancer struggling to stay en pointe. After his generous encounter to fix the dancer’s shoes, Bloch became determined to meet the needs of dancers, to help improve their form by providing the appropriate dance gear, starting with en pointe shoes. His deep interest in the performing arts lead him to create custom ballet shoes for prima ballerina Tamara Toumanova, Hollywood dance choreographer David Lichine, and other visiting ballet dancers from Russia. His popularity grew globally, spreading throughout Australia and Europe.
Today, the brand continues to fulfill Bloch’s promise to fulfill the dancers’ needs by expanding beyond en pointe, and embracing other dance genres- becoming the world’s leading dance apparel band for ballet, tap, hip hop, jazz, and latin dance. Chloe Arnold, choreographer from So You Can Think: The Next Generation and famed tap group “Syncopated Ladies”, along with sister Maud Arnold are proud supporters of the Bloch brand.
While Jacob Bloch is no longer available to provide custom work to give those dancer shoes the perfect final touch, Block is known to have an extensive inventory of different types of ballet slippers, tap and jazz shoes for dancers to choose from. Like Capezio, Bloch provides comfort but also durability as well.
Other dance shoes available: hip hop, jazz, tap, salsa, ballroom, etc.
Unlike our previously mentioned brands, So Danca is a younger established company that made its breakthrough during the mid 1980s. Opened in Sao Paulo, Brazil, So Danca began producing dance wear, later branching out to footwear with the introduction of artisans and technicians onto the team. So Danca has been inspired to push the boundaries of industry design standards, embracing the passionate spirit of dance through their products in quality and design.
So Danca is America’s largest dance brand, serving in 50 different countries, including Canada, Brazil, Italy, England, Australia and more. Dancers around the world have been able to enjoy the comfort and security found in their ballet slippers. Like Capezio, So Danca combines aesthetics with practicality, which has left many raving about the brand. I
Other dance shoes available: ballroom, jazz, character, contemporary, irish, etc.
It may be difficult to obtain the appropriate dance shoes especially without the present of physical and accessible dance stores. On top of this, after doing your research, it may be frustrating to find that the shoes and apparel that you had your heart set on is not available in your region. There’s just so many American and European websites! Luckily, with the help of Harlequin’s dance store, Canada’s largest supplier of dance apparel, you are able to Capezio, Bloch, Só Dança, and many other dance brands for your needs. If you want to take a deeper dive on dancewear brands, see our guide.