Sunday, September 9, 2012

Advice against wearing heavy dance shoes for practice, 1817

1810 Gentleman's Full Dress
In our modern nineteenth century dance classes we have to warn dancers not to wear sneakers. Of course, that was not a problem in the past. Here is a brief mention of dance shoes from 1817. You can see from the fashion plate above that men's evening shoes were already very light and unencumbering.

Others pretended that it was of great service to practise, wearing a very heavy shoe, because, on changing it for a light one, the difference was sensibly and advantageously felt in the performance of steps. 

I am of a very different opinion, and think that a person should have, when practising, the full play and use of the various muscles of the instep and of the joints of the toes, which give so much life, expression and elegance to dancing.

(J. H. Gourdoux-Daux, Elements and principles of the art of dancing, as used in the polite and fashionable circles.  Philadelphia, J. F. Hurtel, 1817.p. 19-20)

Let's not forget the women. The fashion plate below shows that women's dancing shoes were also quite light and delicate.

1811 Lady's Ball Dress

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