Is a "jazz pump" a good shoe for me?
February 12, 2007 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Dance shoe experts & semi-experts: is a "jazz pump" a reasonable substitute for a character shoe? Jazz pumps seem like they might be exquisitely comfortable, maybe with the addition of cushy insoles.

A musical theater show coming up will have me on my feet for a couple of hours (with breaks) almost every night for a few weeks, and I'll need some character shoes. Similar-looking jazz pumps might be more comfortable for me (the balls of my feet like a lot of space), but I've heard that the lack of support was problematic for at least one person. I don't have particularly strong feet since I'm not a very frequent dancer, so I'd like some support - but am I worrying too much?

If I end up with character shoes, I can adapt them as usual (shoe stretch, insoles, etc.), but if the jazz pumps are as divine as they seem they might be, I want some. I also have been doing a little tango, salsa, and a little other dancing.

Also, if anyone knows of a jazz pump with a T-strap I could order online, that would be great.

I did find and post to a dance forum, but am not very confident that I'll get a good answer.
posted by amtho to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Dance (and dance shoe) expert here.

A "jazz pump" is made of a much softer leather upper and has a flexible suede sole. The lack of a hard sole means means the shoe's heel can dig into your foot after awhile. Really, these shoes are cheaper and sort of a step up to character shoes as opposed to the real thing. I wore them at age 11 or so before graduating to "real" character shoes and finally to "professional" LaDuca brand shoes. I needed the jazz pumps at the time because my feet were not strong enough to work against the hard sole of a character shoe to achieve a full point.

For musical theater, you almost certainly want a character shoe with a hard sole. It's much better for standing for long periods and suits the adult foot much better. Capezio's t-strap is the old stand by.

Other options:

Capezio has a LaDuca copy that emulates their modified t-strap and incorporates some of the softness and flexibility of a suede sole like a jazz shoe (or jazz pump if you will) in a traditional character shoe. This is a good compromise, but the soft sole may not be good if you literally are just standing for long periods.

Also, if you'll be doing more dancing than standing and a lower heel is not an issue, you could try a Pedini by Capezio.
posted by superfem at 11:08 AM on February 12, 2007

Looks like Discount Dance's links aren't working. Here are images of the shoes mentioned instead:

Capezio T-Strap
Capezio Broadway Flex (LaDuca inspired)
Capezio Pedini
Leo's Jazz Pump (regular, no t-strap, wouldn't be my recommendation)

You can search the Discount Dance Supply site by the product name to find colors and styles available.
posted by superfem at 11:17 AM on February 12, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks! That's good information. I wasn't sure if the jazz pump I did find (it was a Leo's, also) had a softer sole or not.

The shoe does need to _look_ like a standard character shoe so that I'll match the look of the show. The Capezio T-Strap's my favorite so far, but it's a bit expensive.

I guess what I hope for is something with a nice stiff sole but a soft top, like a jazz shoe on a character shoe base. Does this exist?

Also, I really shouldn't be spending more than about $30 if possible.
posted by amtho at 12:40 PM on February 12, 2007

Cheaper is definitely better! Here's a t-strap style from Leo's on Amazon priced just at $30. The "scored leather sole" means it's more towards a traditional character character shoe sole but probably not as hard as the pricier Capezio character shoes. Sounds like a good option!

(Again I'd advise against the jazz pump as it's easier to roll over your ankle in them and just doesn't hold up as well as the traditional hard-soled character shoes.)
posted by superfem at 5:38 PM on February 12, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, superfem! I'm glad you were here to answer my question so expertly!
posted by amtho at 5:44 PM on February 12, 2007

I'm generally not a fan of Leo's shoes. I'd go with the Capezios for your purposes. Discount Dance generally has the best prices, but you might be able to find them for less by shopping around on the web.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 5:51 PM on February 12, 2007

On preview, what superfem said.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 5:52 PM on February 12, 2007

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