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Toes & Heels

TOE TIPS: Most manufacturers produce a fairly decent toe. However, there are tips which are stronger than others. Though the do eventually ware out. Ultil recently, the best material for tips and heels was Fiberglass. Many makers still use it but most types of fiberglass are proned to break or shatter. Some dancers never have problems with this but it is common. The advantages to Fiberglass are its superior sound qualities. It has the loudest and most "crisp" sound. Many manufacturers have changed to other materials called "Hi-Tec", "Composite" and "Carbon" heels and tips. These various materials are longer wearing than Fiberglass but do not sound as good. Some are closer than others. Still, expect the entire industry to embrace this new kind of material as it is easier to work with and last longer. Fiberglass is becoming harder to find.

The toe piece should be close to an inch thick and should extend at least 1/3 inch from the front of the shoe. This is necessary for a good sound and protects your toes from slamming into the floor. Some manufacturers file the toe tip flat to aid toe stands. (In theory)

HEELS: This is where shoes can vary most from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The problem wit h plastic .

There are two schools of thought when it comes to plastic heels. The first is that for new students who are not going to use the heels, plastic is just fine. And this is true. For your first pair you can save a few dollars on plastic heels. But not too much.

The other school of thought is that if a student is in plastic heels she/he will be hindered by the capabilities of the heel when it comes time to use it. This is true as well.

We absolutely recommend against buying hollow plastic heels unless this is your first shoe. But even if it is, for a few more diollars you can get a better heel and have a more valuable shoe to resell later.

Plastic produces inferior sound and can literally fall apart with every kick. Our testers have actually kicked these heels right off the shoes. Further, beginners are likely to stand flat footed using the heel of the shoe, which is not designed for standing. The very small surface area of the tapered plastic heel provides poor support causing the shoe to "turn over" easily. Taking your ankle with it!

Plastic heels are usually tapered making heel clicks virtually impossible. However, if it is a first pair of shoes they may not do clicks.

Generally, it is best to opt for any of the solid fiberglass or "composite" heels as described above. They are always wider and are altogether better materials. How to tell if heels are plastic? Put the shoes on and click the heels firmly together. If you do any damage to the heels, they are plastic. Heels that have a plastic upper section with a fiberglass or nylon tap are not worth the money either.

In "solid fiberglass" heels, the entire upper portion of the heel is fiberglass and the bottom section (tap) is actually Nylon which has been attached. The reason for this is that the fiberglass would likely chip apart if used on the bottom of the shoe, and when the nylon wears out, you can have it replaced easily without replacing the entire heel. Most newer composite heels have this feature as well.


Most companies will have various heel heights for various shoe sizes. A good shoe will keep the heel in scale with the size of the shoe.

A child size shoe should not have the same size heel as an adult size 12. But some manufacturers use one standard heel size regardless of size. Thats bad. In our ratings, we generally warn you if a shoe has this problem.

Shoe Soles
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