Put on your dancin’ shoes!

Have you used character shoes? What’s it like?Tell us here!


Character shoes are among the unsung heroes of musical theatre. They are comfortable, versatile footwear that make a dancer look great without distracting from her form. Practically invisible, they show off her moves and give her the flexibility and support to do any number of choreographic combinations. In other words, they help a hoofer hoof.

Add small metal plates beneath the ball of the foot and under the heel and you have tap shoes.

If a show’s budget allows, a designer might dress chorus dancers in custom-made footwear in a color and style to match the rest of their outfits. But if that’s not possible, sensible character shoes can do the trick.

Performers often wear character shoes during auditions to be ready in case the director invites them to go into their dance. And they look a lot more professional than sandals or tennis shoes.

But don’t try to wear a pair of character shoes on a stroll through town or out in the rain. They are built especially for performing on wooden stages, with leather uppers and soles (real or synthetic). So they don’t do well on concrete or asphalt. Take off the character shoes and lace up a pair of sneakers for the walk home.

Ben Pesner

This video was made by Theatre Development Fund.

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Theatre Development Fund is the nation’s largest not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts. Through a variety of programs and services that promote education, access and conversation, it ensures an enduring appreciation of and engagement with live theatre. In addition to operating the TKTS booth in Duffy Square and the satellite booths at South Street Seaport and in downtown Brooklyn, TDF’s theatre education, accessibility, affordable ticketing and audience development programs help to make the unique experience of theatre available to diverse audiences while supporting New York’s theatre industry. Since it was founded in 1968, TDF has provided over 80 million people with access to performances at affordable prices while returning over $2 billion in revenue to thousands of productions.