If you know me, even a little, you know I have a serious thing for platform shoes (AKA “stripper shoes”). You can get them in low platforms, mid, or sky-high if you want. Lots of dancers fear wearing them because they look like they’d be completely impossible to dance in. You might be surprised to know that they’re actually pretty easy once you get used to them. The platforms keep the heels from being overwhelmingly high, and the footbeds are padded for hours of comfortable (pinkie swear) wear.
Certain moves are far, far easier in shoes–pirouettes, for example. Can you do them barefoot? Sure! But having a slightly slippery surface (check that alliteration, folks) on the ball of your foot makes it simple for you to turn and turn and turn to your heart’s content. Shoes are also great for a lot of floorwork moves: pikes are a piece of cake, shoulder rolls are a ton smoother, controlled elbowstands are easier (your feet slide better)…..
But lest you think I’m all shoe, all the time, let me offer this:
Other moves–like inversions–tend to be more difficult in shoes. First of all, those platforms aren’t light. They may not seem like they weigh much, but when your muscle memory is used to rolling (because we don’t kick up into inversions, right?) a certain amount of weight up the pole, adding even a few ounces can throw you off. And you can’t push off the ground the same in shoes. In fact, wearing platforms and inverting is a good way to tell if you’re rolling up using your core or pushing off the ground. Spins aren’t necessarily more difficult, but you do push off differently, and that can take some getting used to.
There is beauty to be found dancing in platforms, and there is beauty to be found dancing barefoot. I tend to favor shoes because I like having the slip, and I like the length it gives my otherwise not-so-long stems — but being barefoot carries with it something primal, maybe even a little raw. You’re as you were born, and you’re dancing. Tell me that’s not beautiful.