In any dance, there are three factors that decide the quality of the movement: the dancer, the shoes and floor ... in that order. Good quality shoes won't replace technique, but they are essential for removing obstacles like excessive friction that could impede a dancer's performance. Appropriate shoes give a dancer freedom to dance unhindered. Hip hop, break dancing and other street dances pose a greater challenge than more traditional studio dances when it comes to finding good shoes.
Ballet, ballroom,and other studio dances have tried and true standards of what shoes work best. In these cases, the soles are often suede or leather to offer the dancer the capacity to turn and glide smoothly across a smooth, clean surface.
Hip hop, krumping, popping and locking and other street dances usually only have one element in common, and that's the inability to anticipate the circumstances of the performance. When your stage could be anywhere from a sidewalk to a parking lot to concrete stairs or cobblestones, you need a versatile shoe that can stand up to the hardships of outdoor grounds while still offering you the flexibility of a dance shoe.
Dance sneakers are a split-sole dance shoe designed to allow dancers to point feet and even dance en pointe. But these aren't necessarily a good choice for street dancing, since the split sole can get caught on rough surfaces, and pointed feet aren't a priority. Dance sneakers are usually made of a soft leather that isn't durable or supportive enough for street dancing.
Street dancing shoes should fit tightly. It's important the shoes stay in place and feel like part of the dancer's body, an extension of their feet. Shoes that are loose can cause injury, as can loosely tied laces. Double knotting the laces and tucking them in can help prevent tripping. It's also always a good idea to warm up before, and stretch after, any intense physical activity.
Even if a shoes claims to be designed for street dancing, if they don't have a firm, flexible structure, they could be unsafe. Uneven ground and improvisational moves mean any part of the shoe could come into contact with the ground. Shoes also need to be lightweight to avoid straining the ankle joints with excessive weight and must always hug the feet.
Most trainers will work as street dancing shoes if they have a firm, flexible, flat sole and good support.
Adidas Superstar is a street dancing shoe made popular by its high quality performance and its sponsorship by hip hop group Run DMC. The look of this shoe has become a classic in street dancing, especially the rubber "shell" toe that can withstand force and uneven terrain while protecting the dancer's feet.
Bloch, a long time manufacturer of dance shoes, makes a street dancing shoe with professional edge. The Klassik features breathable leather and a spin spot on the sole, as well as a removable metal clip to keep baggy pants out of the way.
Rachel's work has awarded her two scholarships and she has been published twice in Headwaters Magazine. She has a BA in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville; she has five years of professional writing and editing experience.