Most beginners underestimate the importance of the right shoes. It’s understandable: genuine flamenco shoes are hard to find, except in Spain and in major international cities – and they’re expensive. Why spend over a hundred dollars on shoes you’ll never wear again, if you discover flamenco is not for you?
But in fact, wearing the right shoes can make or break your success in flamenco. Wear the wrong shoes, and challenging footwork can become impossibly difficult, to the point where you may be tempted to give up—which would be a great shame! So it’s worth taking the time to make sure you have the right “tools of the trade” before you start.
By all means, delay buying the proper shoes until you have studied for a term or two, while the footwork is still slow and simple - but don’t leave it much longer. As the footwork gets faster and more complex, you’ll find it harder and harder to cope in any other shoe, unless your feet and ankles are naturally very strong. It would be a shame if you became needlessly discouraged.
I myself almost gave up flamenco only a few months after I started, because I felt I would never master a fast redoble. Then I acquired a pair of second-hand flamenco shoes, and suddenly the footwork came easily—and from then on, I never looked back.
Which reminds me of an article I read in the New York Times , about the importance of having comfortable shoes. I like Eva Yerbabuena's comment about good shoes making her feet feel as if she's not wearing any shoes - something every dancer dreams of!
Photo by eschipul