CriticalDance Forum

Split-sole vs. full sole?
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Author:  BadlyDrawnGirl [ Tue Oct 10, 2006 2:31 am ]
Post subject:  Split-sole vs. full sole?

I just moved from NYC to Auckland (only for a year but I didn't want to give up dancing while I'm down here) and after bringing the canvas split-sole shoes I've been dancing in for forever, my teacher strongly suggested I switch to a leather, full sole shoe instead. Aside from the fact that the RAD exams don't allow them (we use RAD syllabus) why would she have me switch? What are the advantages to a full sole? Just curious...

Also, this is totally unrelated, but is it typical of RAD classes to go without mirrors? There is a mirror at the back of the studio but we spent the entire time facing away from it. Highly disconcerting for someone who's always used to having a visual reference!

Author:  ksneds [ Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:34 am ]
Post subject: 

The mirrors in our studio are always covered when exams are going on, so I assume that they are not allowed for exams. So your teacher probably facing the class away to prepare them for the situation during an exam. Mirrors can be a great tool, but it's important to learn to feel where your body/body alignment is without a mirror, and not to get into a habit of dancing 'to a mirror'.

As to full vs. split sole, I am no expert, but it's my understanding that full soles help to strengthen your foot and so are often reccomended for young dancers in their first couple of years. It's rare to see professional dancers in full-soles as I think they tend to prefer the look/flexibility of split soles, but I have seen men practicing in full soles in order to work on their feet.

If you aren't going to be taking the exams and only there for one year, then I don't see any reason to switch shoes. I think it's more important to wear shoes that fit your feet & you are comfortable in, rather than to buy a new pair simply because they are required for exams you won't be taking. Of course, if you would be taking the exam or planning to study in the school long term then it would be a different issue.

For the record, I wear leather split soles, and have for all three year of my 'dance career' :o) No real reason, but mostly because when I went shoe shopping, that's what was reccomended, and also because with medium-high, but stiff arches I was worried that I'd have a hard time keep full soles from flipping off my heels, elastics or no elastics.

To be honest, I've never really understood the strict 'uniform' requirements for RAD - perhaps someone could explain why they are so strict... Does the standarization lower prices? Or just line the pockets of the few 'RAD' approved companies? Many (most?) non-RAD schools that know about do have uniform requirements, but suggest rather than require certain brands and allow some leeway for different body-types.


Author:  Gina Ness [ Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:56 am ]
Post subject: 

I prefer the split sole leather shoes, as well. I always felt the leather supported my foot better.

Author:  Joanne [ Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:33 am ]
Post subject: 

the teacher may also be asking you to wear full soles as it is their uniform. Some schools are stricter on uniform than others and the teacher may feel that she cannot let you wear split soles if she is insisting that the rest of the class wear full soles.

I again prefer split soles. Perhaps you should ask the teacher why and explain your preference.

Author:  Joanne [ Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:39 am ]
Post subject: 

Kate I think that uniform is specified particularly for exams so that candidates are examined on their ability and that the clothing doesn't detract from that i.e everyone looks the same and can be judged on their ability alone.

I have been to non-uniform schools and the clothing side becomes very competitive everyone wanting the best leotard - so I have always found a uniform a good idea for children.

I agree though that there should be a choice of supplier and I think in the UK this is getting better with a lot of the discount dancewear people stocking official uniform.

Author:  ksneds [ Wed Oct 11, 2006 6:21 am ]
Post subject: 


I definately think having a uniform is actually a good thing, just not the requiring a specific leotard from a specific company. Most schools in the U.S. require a specific color and style , i.e. camisole or tank, but not a specific brand. I thnk that requring a specific brand is very restrictive because both bodies and leotards can vary widely, and while one brand might fit very well, another might be a terrible fit.

And especially for RAD, where examinees range from future professionals to pudgy kids, it seems unfair not to allow some variation in cut to allow for those who need,er, frontal support or additional coverage. I would hope than examiners would be professional enough that if all examinees were in plain black camisole or tank leotards, pink tights and full-soled shoes, that they could look past the apparel.

Slightly off topic, but the worst case of 'everybody must wear the same thing' costume misjudgement that I ever saw was a few years back at one of the ABT summer program final performances. For the upper levels, all the female students were in camisole leotards with skirts. While the majority of the dancers were slender and flat-chested, there were a number who were slender, but well-endowed (and equally or more talented). And who clearly need more support than a low cut in the back, camisole leotard could provide.

I remember being very off-put watching these poor dancers because it made me physically uncomfortable. Not only is that 'bouncing around' unpleasant to watch, it can causing supporting ligaments to stretch so that there is increased sag later in life. It made me angry that more care wasn't taken to make sure that the chosen leotards were appropriate - professional companies make sure to build in extra support where needed, and for a pre-pro summer performance, surely no one would have minded if some dancers had worn leotards with wider straps or higher backs.

I guess in a way I feel that the 'required leotard' rule tends to cater to the 'ideal ballet body' for which all too many leotards are designed, and works against the equally talented who don't match up to the so-called aesthetic ideal.


Author:  Joanne [ Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:51 am ]
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kate I agree that a lot of the exam bodies do seem to forget at times that their bread and butter is on the whole the dancers that will never be professionals and who are perhaps not the typical dancer's shape. They are getting better at realising this - the IDTA in particular - they have always left uniform choice down to the teacher. However I know from examiners that not every school chooses appropriate uniform and candidates can end up entering exams scruffy. It is a fine balance sometimes.

Author:  spangles [ Sun Oct 15, 2006 11:27 pm ]


Just thought I would jot down my thoughts on the subject. I truly to feel that it is a personal preference. My OWN personal preference is the full sole as I feel that they do assist with the strenghthening of the intrinsinc muscles of the foot (every thing and any thing to help. I am a great fan of promoting foot strengthening exercises and correct use of the floor to all my students to gain that strength and teach anatomy right from the outset so that the students can appreciate exactly the whys and hows of what we do and why we do it). I guess I still am of the old school where I like my older students to train in demi-pointes to! in oppose to full soled leather shoes that my lower school students use. That said I am also against contraptions that promise to give any foot an arch prefering old fashioned hard work to gain the end results. AGAIN, my own personal preferences. I would be very interested to hear from other teachers/dancers what there thoughts are of the use of machinery to bend the feet etc!! (I might just change my mind and keep up with dnace technology :P
Please also note that I do give select students foot flexibility exercises as I do fully appreciate that like faces, there are many different types of feet with their own different sets of problems etc......
Lots of Love, Spangles xx
PS. I personally like to alternate my classes with the use of mirrors but for the 8 weeks leading up to an examination or concert/eisteddfod etc. mirrors I am afraid are banned :twisted:
This is when we polish and really work on PERFORMANCE and PRESENTATION.

Author:  BadlyDrawnGirl [ Wed Oct 18, 2006 4:52 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks for the insightful remarks everyone! As some have mentioned, I'm finding the full sole much harder to point in, but I definitely see this as a good thing (and it may be why my teacher prefers me to wear them) because I have very naturally flat feet and pretty weak arches, so anything that will help to strengthen them is fine with me. Although does this mean I'll be stuck in full soles forever? I do prefer the look of split-soles...

As for uniforms, our teacher's been pretty lax on that point, though she did unsubtlely hint yesterday that she would "like to see some pink and white legs" (i.e. tights) instead of the sweatpants and biker shorts most of us adult students wear, hehe.

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