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Dance Shoes For Pedalling


nachthorn

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I had the good fortune to turn pages for Charles Harrison (Lincoln) at Christchurch Priory on Wednesday night. As well as being an assured and supremely musical player, he has a formidable pedal technique. I had a quick look at his shoes after the recital (with his permission, and after he had removed them...)

 

They were (apparently) dance shoes, with a thin flexible leather (or faux leather) upper, a suede sole flexible from just in front of the heel forward to the toe, and a 1.5" heel (which he said might be better built up just a little more). They looked fairly similar to Organmasters.

 

I know that dance or character shoes are supposed to be good for pedalling, but I've done a quick search of various dancewear websites without any obvious matches appearing. Do people have any comments on the use of these types of shoes and recommendations on where to pick them up without acquiring a second mortgage?

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I had the good fortune to turn pages for Charles Harrison (Lincoln) at Christchurch Priory on Wednesday night. As well as being an assured and supremely musical player, he has a formidable pedal technique. I had a quick look at his shoes after the recital (with his permission, and after he had removed them...)

 

They were (apparantly) dance shoes, with a think flexible leather (or faux leather) upper, a suede sole flexible from just in front of the heel forward to the toe, and a 1.5" heel (which he said might be better built up just a little more). They looked fairly similar to Organmasters.

 

I know that dance or character shoes are supposed to be good for pedalling, but I've done a quick search of various dancewear websites without any obvious matches appearing. Do people have any comments on the use of these types of shoes and recommendations on where to pick them up without acquiring a second mortgage?

 

I use ballet shoes and have found them great - bought from a local ballet store. They're by Freed and are called "Rhythm Collection". They are similar to these:

http://www.movedancewear.co.uk/product_inf...products_id=363

 

Stephen Barber

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I now wear suede soled dance shoes and swear by them. They're a really good idea: they're also really light and small (so you don't notice them so much if you're on the move) and very quiet on the pedals so pedal clatter becomes something of the past - not to be overlooked!!

 

Best place to pick them up is a dance shoe shop - go to yell.com and find your nearest. I went in and was very honest about what I wanted the shoes for and was told I wasn't the first organist to visit. Dance shoe sizes in practice tend to be a size or two smaller than normal and you really need to try them on and find a pair that fit well before parting with your cash. Get a fit as close as a glove but you'll still find them a size or two larger than you're used to.

 

I noticed Cameron Carpenter wears latino dance shoes, with cuban heels - if you want high(er) heels, it's probably a good way to go. And they seem to work for Cameron, whose pedal technique is very impressive...

 

I found my shoes and Cameron's on the internet:

 

mine: http://www.supadance.com/acatalog/9000_Black_Leather.html

Cameron's: http://www.supadance.com/acatalog/8400_White_Satin.html

 

But do try them on before you buy any! As you see, they can be an expensive mistake if they're the wrong size...

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Since the year before last i have been struggling with my modified Clarkes shoes. I really must get over my other problem -

 

There is a famous dance shoe shop in St Martin's Lane London.... Lots of silver glitter shoes in the window ...I felt uncomfortable about going inside.... ;)
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When I started learning to play, nobody ever explained that there would come a time when I had to decide, "Should I wear white satin cuban heeled latino dance shoes or not?" ;)

 

Colin, thanks - the Supadance 9000 looks to be the thing, if a little on the pricey side.

 

Stephen - the shoe you referred to looks virtually identical the the shoe Colin mentioned - thank you. I knew people on here would have the right answer!

 

Oliver - let me know how you find the shoes you bought through eBay. If I can find the same thing on eBay more cheaply, AND avoid going into shops with windows full of silver glitter shoes, I'll be a happy man B)

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Perfect timing! I've just bought a pair of suede soled dance shoes from eBay which have no welt and are very pliable. I'll let you know how I get on.

Regards, Oliver.

 

I was wondering how you managed to get the right size buying off eBay, especially with regard to Colin's point about trying them on first and the difference in sizes. It's bad enough for me with ordinary shoes. Will they take them back if they don't fit, do you know? R

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I used dance shoes for years. Rather similar to the ones pictured in the above link, but with a larger - tapering - heel. Apart from the fact that the heel tapered, they were excellent. I am presently using Organmaster shoes and find those excellent too, although not as flexible as the dance shoes are.

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Hi all.

The eBay member is called jemsdoll121. It seems she has the shoes made for her as her name is inside them. They are about £40 inc P+P. I normally wear either size 9 or 10. I emailed the seller with my foot sizes (10" x 4") and she suggested the 10s which seem a good fit. As for returning them, look at the bottom of the listing which explains her returns policy. I hope I can attach a photo I took with this post....

Regards, Oliver.

shoes.jpg

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Allegro Music stock Organmaster shoes (a bit more of a heel, methinks, than those pictured) for £45 + p&p for mens shoes, £40 for ladies (not that we seem to have many ladies on this forum - alas!).

 

When I was studying with a very well-regarded concert organist a number of years ago, he used to constantly make negative comments about the fact that I played in whatever shoes I was wearing at the time and had developed some pretty foul techniques to get around the lack of heel, or excessive welt, etc of whatever pair I was using at the time. After I completed my studies with him I came across a pedal passage which I just couldn't manage with guaranteed 100 per cent accuracy in most shoes. That persuaded me to purchase my first pair of dance shoes, which made things soooo much easier. I remember that he came to a subsequent recital of mine and commented afterwards that he'd spent a year going on at me about getting a decent pair of shoes for pedalling, and that he was rather miffed that I'd waited until after I'd finished my studies with him before following his advice!

 

The downside is that, nowadays, unless I'm wearing my dance shoes, or the Organmaster shoes (my preferred choice), my ability to play the pedals accurately is very limited indeed. :D

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Allegro Music stock Organmaster shoes (a bit more of a heel, methinks, than those pictured) for £45 + p&p for mens shoes, £40 for ladies (not that we seem to have many ladies on this forum - alas!).

 

When I was studying with a very well-regarded concert organist a number of years ago, he used to constantly make negative comments about the fact that I played in whatever shoes I was wearing at the time and had developed some pretty foul techniques to get around the lack of heel, or excessive welt, etc of whatever pair I was using at the time. After I completed my studies with him I came across a pedal passage which I just couldn't manage with guaranteed 100 per cent accuracy in most shoes. That persuaded me to purchase my first pair of dance shoes, which made things soooo much easier. I remember that he came to a subsequent recital of mine and commented afterwards that he'd spent a year going on at me about getting a decent pair of shoes for pedalling, and that he was rather miffed that I'd waited until after I'd finished my studies with him before following his advice!

 

The downside is that, nowadays, unless I'm wearing my dance shoes, or the Organmaster shoes (my preferred choice), my ability to play the pedals accurately is very limited indeed. :D

 

From recent cameron Carpenter videos posted on youtube, it looks like he's playing more in stillettos than dance shoes. Where on earth did he get those incredible white high heels from?

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Guest Roffensis
I had the good fortune to turn pages for Charles Harrison (Lincoln) at Christchurch Priory on Wednesday night. As well as being an assured and supremely musical player, he has a formidable pedal technique. I had a quick look at his shoes after the recital (with his permission, and after he had removed them...)

 

They were (apparently) dance shoes, with a thin flexible leather (or faux leather) upper, a suede sole flexible from just in front of the heel forward to the toe, and a 1.5" heel (which he said might be better built up just a little more). They looked fairly similar to Organmasters.

 

I know that dance or character shoes are supposed to be good for pedalling, but I've done a quick search of various dancewear websites without any obvious matches appearing. Do people have any comments on the use of these types of shoes and recommendations on where to pick them up without acquiring a second mortgage?

 

 

High heels are much better, preferably 6 inches. Ethel Austin is very good.

 

R

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Am I alone in finding that playing without shoes is more comfortable? Stout socks, of course, to avoid any splinters in the soles, but I find that neary-bare feet allow me very good feel on the pedalboard, and socks allow your foor to slide very easily along a pedal when required. I reckon myself to have a good pedal technique in spite of this heresey.....I play the Bach D major and A minor for example, and several of the trio-sonatas.......but I have to admit that it wouldn't look good on a big screen as in some recent recitals (not least because of the cloven hooves... :D ).

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The advantage of socks I think is that you always have them with you, whereas if you are visiting an organ and have the chance to play and you don't have your organ shoes handy, as is often the case! The downside is that depending on how stiff the pedals are, it can be quite painful!

 

I got into the habit of practising on my home toaster, from time to time, in socks, just for that possibility. Fine if the visited organ has a similar action, not so nice if it doesn't.

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Unless, perhaps, a player has a high bench and a particularly short in the lower leg, I cannot see the benefit of an enormous heel. The 1½ (?) inches on Organmaster shoes is perfectly adaequate for clearing thirds. Why would anyone want more?

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Unless, perhaps, a player has a high bench and a particularly short in the lower leg, I cannot see the benefit of an enormous heel. The 1½ (?) inches on Organmaster shoes is perfectly adaequate for clearing thirds. Why would anyone want more?

 

I suppose that, in a relaxed pose with our feet dangling with nothing on which to rest them (say sitting on a wall, for example), the most comfortable position would be to have toes rather lower than heels. Lifting toes in order to place our heels lower than the toes (or even level with them) takes quite a bit of effort, so I can see the advantage in a larger heel. But how much heel is to be desired? How should we calculate this accurately? Does one's shoe size make a difference?

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Guest Roffensis
Am I correct in thinking that I read somewhere that the late, brilliant, Jeanne Demessieux used a pair of organ shoes with an enormous heel?

 

 

Yes I heard the same, and also reputedly at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral :D .

 

R

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.... so I can see the advantage in a larger heel. But how much heel is to be desired? How should we calculate this accurately? Does one's shoe size make a difference?

Clearly the length of your leg (avoiding technical bone names...) is going to be fairly critical! :D

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Clearly the length of your leg (avoiding technical bone names...) is going to be fairly critical! :P

Or what about the size of foot? Surely a larger foot will hang lower.

 

I wish I'd paid more attention to trigonometry at school..... :D

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Am I alone in finding that playing without shoes is more comfortable? Stout socks, of course, to avoid any splinters in the soles, but I find that neary-bare feet allow me very good feel on the pedalboard, and socks allow your foor to slide very easily along a pedal when required.

 

I find this also - and since the arrival of my home 'machine' even more so - ditto at church too.

 

AJJ

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