So, you thought you knew all about dance shoes?  Well, there's a lot more to dance shoe construction than you might think.  So we asked our expert, Grant Austin, of "Dance Connection" dance shoes to give us the complete scoop about brands, styles, fit, injury protection, and cost.  In addition, he'll talk about the new specialized shoes that he has designed with extra padding and special toe formation to provide better comfort and protection against injuries.























USASN: What brands of dance shoes do you carry?
GA: Over the past 20 years we have carried Capezio, International, Supadance, and a host of other brands. More recently we introduced our Ultimate dance shoes and Comfort dance shoes.  

USASN: What is so special about the Comfort Dance Shoes?
GA: The Comfort Dance shoes are all made with extra padding. This brand includes a full line of ladies coaching shoes and sandals in various heel heights to appeal to dancers from every genre. The men’s styles include low and Cuban heel options in Balmoral and Blutcher styles. We have recently introduced our Hybrid dance sneaker that looks like a casual shoe or sneaker, but has unbelievable padding and a flexible leather dance outsole. Finally we have developed a split-sole dance sneaker with a chromed leather outsole which will be available soon.

USASN: What is so special about the Ultimate Dance Shoes?
GA: The Ultimate Dance shoes have always been made with extra padding and top quality materials but we recently developed a new lasting system for this brand to include the men’s shoes and the women’s practice shoes in both a 1’ and 1-½’ heel.

The “last” is the mold that the shoes are made around and is the key to fit. We created a “depth last” which allows us to add 4 mm more padding to the insole of the shoes without affecting the look or fit. In addition we also made it a combination lasting system, where we kept the heel cup normal but added width and height to the forefoot to make sure that there is no pressure across the toe joints and toes.

USASN: What foot problems would the new Ultimate Dance Shoes address?
GA: What most dancers don’t realize is that dancing is a sport where the foot is put into a very dynamic state. The constant impact causes trauma. On a scale from 1 to 10, dancing ranks probably a 9, with a 10 being all-out running. 

Most dance shoes are made with very little padding if any, and unfortunately as we get older, we begin to loose the fat pad in the heel and the ball of the foot. The extra padding in the depth dance shoe will soften the impact to the heel and ball of the foot area to help with various foot maladies such as metatarsalgia, bone spurs and arthritis. In addition, the extra space in the forefoot will accommodate bunions, tailors bunions, hammer toes, mallet toes, neuromas, and also the socks with the extra padding in the ball of the foot.

USASN: What is so special about the Comfort Dance Socks?
GA: Most people overlook the importance of a good sock. The sock is the gasket between your foot and the shoe, and is your first layer of protection. Unlike a 100% cotton sock, which holds the moisture in, these socks are made of a special poly-blend that wicks the moisture away from the foot and out through the shoe. It is manufactured for Comfort Dance by Thorlo’s, which is the leading sock maker in the US. These socks take care of the moisture control, bacteria control, and have a special weave which eliminates the sheer. Sheer is the combination of both friction and pressure that causes calluses and blisters. The sock has extra padding in the ball of the foot, where everyone needs, but especially dancers. And finally there is also padding in heel cup for extra protection.

USASN: Besides manufacturing dance shoes, you are also a Certified Pedorthist, what is that exactly?
GA: As a C-Ped I am licensed to manufacture custom footwear and custom orthotics for patients with a doctor’s prescription. Our lab, Custom Orthotics Inc., specializes in manufacturing a European-engineered custom orthotic that is the very best available anywhere.

USASN: Why is your orthotic so good?
GA: Our platinum series custom orthotic is engineered to address various bio-mechanical foot disorders to include plantar faciitis, neuromas, bunions, hammer toes, arthritis, bursitis, metatarsalgia, and calluses. It transfers weight off the balls of the feet, and moves it to the arches where it belongs naturally - like when you walk on the beach barefooted, and your arches fill up with earth and sand. That’s the way a human beings foot is made to function naturally.

From the time we are born we are put in flat shoes and walk on hard concrete all day, and the foot takes a beating. Our Platinum Series orthotic is custom fit to all 5 arches and fits in all of your shoes, even ladies high heels. It supports the lateral side of the foot (outside) by cradling the 5th metatarsil bone and cuboid, and supports the medial side of the foot, which most people refer to as the main arch. But, it also is custom fit to 3 transversal arches to include the posterior and anterior metatarsil arches. By hand making this orthotic to fit just behind each metatarsil head (balls of the feet) we can tuck the ball of the feet under and bring the fat pad back in place over the balls of the feet where it belongs. By supporting all 5 arches we can improve your posture by balancing the mid foot and aligning your gait for relief in the ankles, knees and lower back.

Most custom orthotics on the market are stiff and bulky but ours are made with a surgical nylon blend that is strong but flexible, so it works naturally with the muscles and tendons of the foot and, in most cases, can actually improve the arches. Because of the durability of nylon, we can make the heel cup paper thin so it doesn’t affect the fit of the shoe or lift your heel out of the shoe like most other custom orthotics. We also have covers in black and flesh so that they can also be worn in sandals and look very natural. Our hand-made Platinum series custom orthotics have a 15 year guarantee for fit and wear, and over 8000 dancers are now wearing them.

USASN: You always refer to a systems approach to foot care, what is that?
GA: The systems approach includes the combination of all the things we have talked about. A moisture wicking padded sock for better protection. A well padded dance shoe or boot that reduces the impact to the heel and ball of the foot, but also has more space in the forefoot to accommodate the big toe joint and toes. And, finally, our platinum series custom orthotics, which transfer the weight off the balls of the feet and spread it evenly across the entire foot bed, and puts the feet and body back in balance. The combination of all three products offers the dancers the best opportunity to dance for hours without pain. Even dancers that are not experiencing pain get the orthotics, padded footware and socks to help avoid injury and because they believe in preventive maintenance.
USASN: How much does all that cost?
GA: Our web special for the orthotics is $279, but 80% of that is usually covered by most health insurance with a doctor’s referral. The Ultimate Dance shoes range from $119 to $139 for women’s styles and $129 to $149 for men’s styles. The Comfort Dance Shoes are the most affordable with the dance sneakers, hybrid sneakers, men’s styles and all women’s styles available for $99 per pair. To order, visit the links below.

Grant Austin
Dance Connection Dance Shoes
Oakwood, Georgia


*** Dance Connection is the Official Shoe Sponsor of The USA Swing Dance Network