It’s been two months since I bought my split-sole Bloch Wave Dance Sneakers, so I thought I’d share. When I was first looking into getting a pair, there was bugger all to be found that would have been useful to me, so maybe someone someday will profit from this post.
Size: Bloch recommends you buy them a half size larger than your street shoes. I recommend you try them on. My street shoes range from European size 38 to 40. I have splayed feet that are narrow at the heel but wide and rather sensitive at the ball. Sneakers usually run at 40 for me and so do the Waves. They fit (and should fit) more snugly than everyday sneakers or running shoes.
Pricing: Having looked at the prices at the local dance shop, these are a bit more expensive than pointes and run within the same price range as a simple pair of tap shoes, so definitely not cheap. Then again, I am willing to pay 50 to 100 percent more for a pair of comfy and durable street shoes that won’t hurt my touchy tootsies and the Waves seem like good value for the money so far.
Looks: You either love the peculiar aesthetic of split-sole dance sneakers or you don’t. I personally adore the way they look and had been looking for an excuse to buy them for a long time. If the wave design is not your thing, Bloch has other styles. The Waves come in six colours: Black and Graphite have a black base, Silver and both multicolored versions have a white base, meaning the mesh on top and parts of the sole are white. My store no longer had the colourful ones in my size, so I settled for Graphite: classy black with a silver accent.
Materials: Mesh, patent-look pleather and a rubber sole are pretty much it. The mesh is pleasantly breathable and the sole is non-marking for obvious reasons. There is a TPU turn spot on the ball of the foot.
Build: Bloch mentions the flexible sole, the cushioned heel and the arch support in the description. I can confirm that all three work as advertised. The heel, while cushioned, is not very thick, so you won’t look to «sporty» while wearing the Waves. The footbed is not overly soft, which is a good thing for dancing. My favourite part is the arch support: It feels like a hug or a well-fitted brace for your arch. It is very flexible in one direction and hardly at all in the other, making it possible to point your foot nicely. The arch support does offer some resistance to the extension, however. I’m a beginner, so I’m grateful for that free arch workout.
The sole on the ball of the foot is separated into three parts, the middle one being the turn spot. This makes relevés as easy in the Waves as they are barefoot. I did struggle with my balance at first, but I believe that is the case with any new shoes. I got used to it pretty quickly and can now hold my balance equally well (however well that is…). All in all, the Waves are sturdy, but very light and not particularly bulky, making them fit for their purpose, namely….
Dancing! Now to business. I have worn these to all my jazz classes and two accidental hip-hop classes since I bought them and I enjoy wearing them a lot. There are certain difficulties, but most of them can probably be remedied, at least up to a point, by better technique. There is often a positive and a negative side to it, so instead of pros and cons, here’s a list of my observations:
- The turn spot does it’s job admirably. In my experience, the turns with the Waves are a bit worse than with ballet slippers but better than socks (better than sweaty and dirty socks, at any rate, and they are bound to become sweaty and dirty eventually). If, however, the foremost part of the sole bears weight, it acts as an efficient brake for your turn. I can do singles in the Waves, but doubles always end in skipping. Keep in mind that I am not the very best of turners, so it might work out differently for you.
- That same foremost part of the sole can screw up your tendus and ronds de jambe, but only if you are like me and don’t properly carry the working leg. The sole does not glide too easily, so you may encounter unexpected resistance (followed by unexpected arm waving for balance and unexpected falling over if you’re having a particularly bad day). If you don’t suck at tendus, you shouldn’t have any problems whatsoever.
- That very same foremost part of the sole does guarantee that you will not slip or slide when that is not your intention. I was a bit concerned about wearing shoes with a big glidy thing at the bottom, since I have a history of forgetting how to walk and falling over, preferably down flights of stairs. My fears were unsubstantiated: I had absolutely no problems with the Waves during warm-up, technique or choreography. They have much more grip than ballet slippers, so you won’t find yourself accidentally overstretching.
- Speaking of stretching: If you want to do full splits, the Waves are not the best choice of footwear. While the sole slides well when needed, the pleather top only does so very reluctantly. If you force it, you will be rewarded with a loud squeak. The Waves also squeak if you draw them against each other too forcefully, for example during a rond-de-jambe. If you can gauge the force, you can avoid the sound.
Dance styles: I only wear the Waves in jazz class. Ballet is fairly easy on my heel and of course ballet slippers are preferable unless there is a medical reason to wear the sneakers. The Waves would generally do great in modern, but not during floorwork. They are not bulky as sneakers go, but they are bulkier than nothing and, as I mentioned, the top and sides do not play well with the floor. Plus, modern is modern. You do not dance it in shoes unless you have medical reasons. The Waves do great in hip-hop, but hip-hop can be danced in any sneaker and the flexibility of the Waves is kind of wasted on it.
I have furthermore heard or read of Waves and other dance sneakers being worn for ballroom, Latin and Irish, particularly for long rehearsals or when recovering from an injury, as well as by ballet instructors (thanks to Asher of danseur ignoble fame for that info). They are also often used for fitness classes like Zumba.
In which dance classes have you encountered or been asked to wear dance sneakers?
PS: I have seen the question whether these can be worn as street shoes a couple of times around the internet. Do not wear the Waves as street shoes. These shoes were made for dancing. I do not know how the sole would hold up to the great outdoors. I do know from painful experience that while the arch support supports your foot well enough, it does not protect it. Stairs can seriously hurt in split-sole sneakers and so can kerbs, thresholds, stones and broken glass.
PPS: Thanks to my mom for taking the photos!