Dancer and teacher Ali (Clough) Geraets remembers a time when she couldn't find shoes for her class of hip-hop students. She wanted a pair of combat boots that were functional on the dance floor, stylish enough for performance, and at an affordable price point so her dancers could buy them. She also needed a store that carried enough stock for the whole class. "We ended up buying shoes from Kohl's, and they were super slippery," Geraets says. "We were like, 'Oh my gosh, we should be making these for dancers.' "

That's when Geraets, along with her colleague Xue Li, got to work on designing her own pair of combat boots, made especially for hip-hop dancers. Their first design was a pair of sequined boots made for Gia-Mia, that came in both black and silver. After that success, Geraets started designing shoes for Just For Kix, exploring options that are both functional and stylish for dancers.


Geraets' latest collection for Just For Kix features three new sneakers: the Alexandra Urban Hip Hop Sneaker in both tan and black, and the Alexandra Spark Hip Hop Sneaker in white. When designing a new shoe, Geraets looks at what's trending in dancewear, and melds it with her own personal style.

As a dancer herself, she has firsthand knowledge of what works and doesn't work when you're moving in a shoe. Sometimes she brings ideas to her students, and gets their opinions on what's stylish and what they would want to wear. Geraets and Li bounce ideas back and forth, and Li then sketches and constructs the shoe, bringing Geraets' vision to life.

Courtesy Just for Kix

For these two new styles, Geraets decided to play with neutrals. "You can't really find hip-hop shoes that are made specifically for dance that are more neutral—everything right now is either sparkly or glittery or shiny," she says. "I love these because they are a little more subtle, but they still pop."

They also feature unique details: For the tan and black sneakers, Geraets and Li decided to make laces that tie in the back (a look they hadn't seen anywhere else in the dancewear world), with velcro straps on the front to make the fit more adjustable. The white Spark sneakers were initially modeled after one of Geraets' earlier designs—a high-top, glittery sneaker in red or black. The new design has the same striped pattern, but in a clean, white low-top with silver stripes for just a touch of shine.

Courtesy Just for Kix

Since the neutral tones match nearly everything, the shoes can easily transition from studio to streetwear, and can be used by dance teams in multiple performances, with multiple outfits.

Making the shoes affordable was a priority for Geraets. "It's really hard to go out and buy a pair of shoes that are $200, and justify that along with a $150 costume or whatever you may be spending," she says. "These are good quality shoes and you don't have to spend so much money on them."

Geraets has come a long way from the days when her students had few options for their hip-hop routines—and from her own days as a dancer who couldn't find products that reflected her personality. "I've never been a super glitzy person, so it was always kind of hard," she says. Now, her designs are ready to help countless dancers express themselves.

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Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

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