Heel Appeal

Dying to dance with Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Usher, Lady Gaga or almost any other big name? Be prepared to strap on some sky-high heels and still kill the choreography, which could include anything from pirouettes and jumps to intricate hip-hop moves. But you don’t want an audition to be your first time dancing full-out in stilettos—you probably won’t book the job. Even worse, you could get seriously injured. Follow these tips from three veterans to get the scoop on how to dance in heels.

Tyne Stecklein

Heel cred: Tyne is a regular on the commercial scene. She was a featured dancer in Burlesque and one of three female dancers cast for Michael Jackson’s This Is It tour.

Expert advice:

  • “Ask your jazz teacher if you can take class wearing heels. Begin with a character or ballroom shoe with straps—they’re super-supportive. Once you feel comfortable, move to a boot or stiletto. Try as many genres as you can while wearing them.”
  • “When dancing in heels, practice working in plié and sitting into your hips in order to stay grounded.”
  • “Freestyle in front of a mirror to figure out what looks good on your body. The moves that look great in sneakers are completely different than those that look great in heels.”

Tyne’s ideal heel: “I always go for comfort and safety over cuteness. Boots are more supportive because they embrace your entire foot.”

Dana Foglia

Heel cred: Dana has performed and toured with Janet Jackson, Rihanna and Beyoncé (she was Beyoncé’s assistant choreographer during the I Am... tour). Dana currently teaches a stiletto heels class at Broadway Dance Center in NYC.

Expert advice:

  • “Stay in class. Some of the strongest dancers in heels are those who have been classically trained and have a strong foundation in ballet and modern. They know their bodies and can create beautiful lines with their legs and feet.”
  • “Do lots of relevés—you need strong ankles to support your movement.”
  • “Wear heels in ‘real’ life. I run around NYC in them! It helps you figure out how to walk in them and where to place your weight for stability.”

Dana’s ideal heel: “I prefer a simple, three- or four-inch black or nude pump without straps, which can interrupt the line. Just keep it simple.”

Kamilah Barrett

Heel cred: Kamilah has danced with Prince, Missy Elliot and 50 Cent, and was a finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 1. Now she teaches Heel Hop, a course she designed to prepare you to dance in heels.

Expert advice:

  • “Strengthen your glutes and abs to hold a neutral spine.”
  • “Learn the choreography in music videos, then put on a pair of heels and try it. You’ll be able to feel where your body is weak—target and strengthen those areas.”
  • “Be confident. Dancing in heels not only makes you sexier and more fashionable, it helps to lengthen your lines.”

Kamilah’s ideal heel: “I prefer a thin, three-inch heel, with a round toe and straps around the ankle and across the toe. When I pick up my foot, the whole shoe should come with me.”

Did You Know? Common heels-related injuries include ankle sprains, tendinitis, knee injuries and lower back pain. Make sure to consult a doctor before slipping on a pair.

Quick Tip: Heels can be tough on your feet. To reduce swelling and ease pain, soak your feet in ice water for 15 to 20 minutes after dancing.

Commercial
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:

Read Darriel's profile here

Read Diego's profile here

Read Emma's profile here

And then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Getty Images

Dancers are naturally "in their heads" all the time—but not always in productive ways. Long days of receiving and applying corrections, taking class, and performing can get to even the most composed individuals. What should you do when you feel like your mind is just as busy as your rehearsal schedule? Try meditation. Dance Spirit turned to Adreanna Limbach, a head teacher at NYC-based meditation studio MNDFL, for a breakdown of this highly beneficial practice.

Keep Reading Show less
Mind
Liz Imperio teaching at Hollywood Vibe, Courtesy of Hollywood Vibe

It's an increasingly common scenario: A talented dancer wins big at a competition, is offered an assistantship with a famous faculty member, and ends up leaving her hometown studio to travel with a convention. Convention-hopping has obvious benefits. Every event generates new content for dancers to post on social media, gives them a better shot at ending up on their favorite choreographers' accounts, lets them learn from the best of the best, and helps them make valuable connections. "Traveling is a great way for dancers to gain admirers around the country," says Jen Jarnot, owner of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Thornton, CO. "That's something every dancer craves." So it's no surprise that weekend FOMO has been blazing through studios like wildfire.

But is this jet-setter lifestyle really the most effective road to take? Can weekends of dancing with top talent truly replace the bread and butter of daily work at your home studio? The answer, according to most industry experts, is no. We asked five pros to explain why.

Keep Reading Show less
Competition

Video

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Giveaways