If you’re just getting into musical theatre, you’ll hear the term ‘character shoe’ thrown around. They’re a comfortable dance shoe with a heel, available in loads of colors and styles. But, how do you know what to look for? And what are the best character shoes on the market?
What are Character Shoes Used For?
There are two main uses for the character shoes. Firstly they’re used in classical dance which is an important aspect of classical ballet.
Character dance is a stylized representation of folk or national dance, usually from European countries. The style of dance uses ballet movements, which have been adapted for theatre.
The second use for character shoes is for musical theatre. They’re not always called character shoes in this respect, some will call them just ‘dance shoes’ because they’re the staple footwear.
They’re extremely versatile and depending on the colour or style, assist in character development. They should be flexible, comfortable and a good brand should last you a while.
What are the Best Brands?
Stelle was established in 2015, but the manufacturers have 20 years of experience in crafting dance shoes.
They use quality materials and professional design yet, compared to other dance shoe brands, these are the more affordable manufacturers.
Capezio are a well established character shoe brand that have been manufacturing dance shoes for around 100 years. They design and make everything from dance tights, pointe shoes and of course, character shoes.
The best thing about the Capezio brand is they don’t only accommodate women’s dance shoes. They have manufactured two character shoes for men (we’ll discuss them later in the review).
Their character shoes, as the rest of their range, are beautifully designed made from the best quality and a wide variety of styles.
Another well established brand of dancewear, founded in 1932 in Australia. Bloch is well known for ballet shoes, jazz shoes and activewear.
The character shoes made by Bloch are durable and stylish whilst also being extremely comfortable.
So Danca are a modern dancewear brand that has ‘married the aesthetics of the past with engineering of the future’. The character shoes created by them are cool, comfortable and minimalistic.
They focus on injury prevention in the manufacture of their dancewear, this is amazing news for dancers and a real benefit to the company.
The Best Character Shoes for Women
So, now we’re going to get into the review, we’ve separated it into male and female because these shoes haven’t different functions and requirements.
We’re going to try and show you a range of styles and colours so you can get a good idea of what’s on the market.
Stelle 2” Character Shoes
These musical theatre shoes from Stelle are an affordable, quality pair of classic, dance shoes. The upper is made from imitation leather and they have a medium 2” heel, but they’re also available in 1.5”.
They come with a rounded toe and single ankle strap that locks with a pin buckle. Stelle created these dance shoes in both tan and black.
It’s very important that character shoes are comfortable because you’re usually wearing them for hours. These have a soft inner sole, they’re flexible on your feet and you can wear them straight out of the box. These are also some of the best character shoes for wide feet.
Capezio Women and Jr. T-Bar Character Shoes
Another classic style of character shoe is a T-bar strapping and these ones from Capezio are amazing.
They come with a slightly higher heel at 2.25”, made from 100% Polyurethane and leather balance sole. Capezio make very breathable dancing shoes which is a huge benefit, they’re moisture absorbing and have a microfibre lining.
Foam padded footbed and achilles notch makes them extremely comfortable. They have closed toe with a slightly tapered toe box with a leather strap and durable buckle. Similar to most dancing shoes, these are available in Tan and Black.
The sole is scored leather which provides some traction but also soft enough for spins and quick turns.
Bloch Dance Women's Split Flex Character Shoes
Here we have a slightly different style of character shoe. Bloch have made a lovely pair of split-sole character shoes, for added flexibility in your pointe and demi.
These come with a slightly higher heel of 2.5” which is still manageable but perhaps not the best character shoes for beginners. They’re 100% leather with a synthetic sole.
Bloch designed these shoes to have a shorter shank, with elastic that wraps around the underside of the foot. They have an external stabilizer which reinforces the heel without compromising flexibility.
So Danca Musical Theatre Shoes
These So Danca character shoes are available in black, tan and white, these are in fact the only white character shoes in our review.
They’re made from quality materials; man-made leather upper and leather sole with a single ankle strap.
This particular pair of character shoes are great for beginners because they’ve got a low heel at 1.5”. They’re also amazing character shoes for wide feet because you can buy a specific ‘wide’ size.
They come with a padded insole which makes them extremely comfortable, even if you’re wearing them for long periods of time.
Capezio 2.5" Charlotte Character Shoes
Now that we have looked at the classic character shoe styles, we’ll show you some more unique styles that are currently on the market. We love these Charlotte Y-strap character shoes from Capezio.
Capezio have an amazing range of musical theatre dance shoes, if you’re wanting to stand out from the crowd then I would look to them.
These particular character shoes are made from 100% genuine Italian leather, they’re even handcrafted in Italy.
This particular shoe has a medium heel at 2.5” and it’s made with a non-slip material. The heel is also quite wide which makes these shoes perfect for beginners. They’ve got a cushion lining so they’re extremely comfortable.
Capezio Women's 459 Jr. Footlight Character Shoe
Last up on our review of the best musical theatre shoes for women, we have another amazing pair from Capezio. This pair of shoes is different to the others on our list because they’re available in a lovely caramel colour.
They’re the perfect pair of dance shoes for any type of performance, whether it’s character or theatrical. They come with a mid to small sized heel, so they’re perfect for beginners.
Capezio have designed this pair to have a traditional buckle closure for custom fitting and a shapely, mid-cut heel.
The suede sole makes these shoes perfect for gliding across the floor and they’re extremely lightweight. Another benefit of these shoes is they’re also character shoes for children.
The Best Character Shoes for Men
Capezio Men's SD103 Social Dance Shoe
These character shoes are smart and stylish. They’re made with a 100% synthetic leather upper and a suede sole for great movement. This material also ensures the shoes is lightweight.
They come with a padded insole which is great for comfort and shock-absorbing. You’ll be able to wear these shoes for hours without your feet aching or feeling a pinch. They’ve got a 1” heel which is the perfect heel height for men’s dance shoes.
BeiBestCoat Men’s Classic Dance Shoes
Here we have a pair of mens dance shoes that are lower in price if you’re shopping on more of a budget. With that in mind, these are excellent quality and made with premium leather.
They’ve got a soft, suede sole which is great for all types of dancing including ballroom, ballet, theatre or latin.
These character shoes are extremely comfortable because the leather is supple, this makes them flexible and also lightweight. Another great aspect of these shoes is that despite being light, they’re very stable. This is important so that you don’t risk injury but it gives you confidence especially in performances.
That’s it for our review of the best character shoes on the market, after looking at what’s on offer for both men and women, it’s clear there are some amazing dance shoes out there.
There are so many different styles, hopefully you’ve found a pair that you like!
How Tight Should Character Shoes Be?
Dance shoes should be form fitting to the foot, you don’t want too much room so that your foot will be sliding up and down when you move but they should not be so snug your toes are curled. They should feel comfortable when you’re stood flat and when you’re pointing.
Once you’ve ordered them, try a few dance moves (stood on the carpet, so not to ruin them). point and flex your foot, if they don’t feel comfortable, return them! Best to get it right first time and save your money.
How to Care for Character Shoes?
An amazing way to care for the soles of your dance shoes is to add an additional rubber sole to the bottom of your character shoes. You can do this at any cobbler, this will make you feel more secure on stage as well as protecting your shoes.
Can you Wear Character Shoes Outside?
In a word; No.
We don’t recommend wearing ANY dancing shoes outside, but especially any dance shoes that have suede soles, this will instantly ruin the soles of the shoes. If you’ve got rubber soles you can get away with it, but they’ll spoil a lot quicker than if you take care and only wear them indoors.