Shamira's Tips - Shoes vs Barefoot
Q: I have seen many of your performances and I notice you always wear shoes. Do you ever dance barefoot? I don't know how you dance so beautifully on those high heels! You never seem to lose your balance or control. How do you do it? - Sharon
A: Hi Sharon, Funny you should say that, as I recently took a nasty fall... because of the shoes! A piece of glass had gotten lodged in the bottom of one and I just went flying. What's worse, the embarrassment of unceremoniously landing on my butt, or the horror of stepping on the glass if I had been barefoot?
I danced barefoot for years. The good thing about dancing barefoot is you definitely have more control with much less chance of ever losing your balance or slipping and falling. You're more grounded which gives you an earthier look, there's less friction if you're dancing on carpet, and you can point your toes and show off your pedicure.
Some people erroneously claim that bellydancing barefoot is somehow more "authentic." Not true. In ancient times, a dancer was said to be successful when she could afford shoes. It was a sign of prestige.
I started wearing Hermes dance sandals after dancing six nights a week barefoot in a Greek nightclub, where I'd invariably be picking little shards of glass out of my feet every night. And my feet were ugly too, full of tough calluses and always dirty looking, no matter how I'd scrub and soak them.
Wearing the flat sandals took some getting used to and I didn't like it. I felt like I was sliding all over and had little control. I had to concentrate just to feel in control. But little by little I got used to it, gained control, and started noticing the perks - I could spin faster and glide smoother and my feet got soft and pretty. No more picking painful shards of glass out of my toes, heels, soles (sometimes deeply imbedded, ouch).
When my mother saw I was dancing in sandals, she suggested I try dancing in heels, for the "look" (she's a former model). So I got some one-inch heels, had the bottoms covered in non-stick surface by a shoemaker, and found that I had more control than with the sandals. I've been hooked ever since. Now I dance in three-inch heels. I think it gives the leg a beautiful line and completes the costume. (And Mom is very happy!)
Keep in mind that this is my own personal preference. If you like the look of shoes, practice practice practice in them until you get used to dancing in them. Dancing in shoes is harder than dancing barefoot, but once you get used to it feels just as natural. And in my opinion, well worth the effort.