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Dance Shoes in the Dirty Snow

dance-shoes-1Emily had been a dancer all of her life. From the moment she could walk, she was constantly dancing. As she grew, her parents encouraged her talent by taking her to all of the different types of dance lessons they could find – ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop.  Eventually it was obvious to everyone that ballet was what Emily loved the most.

It was hard work.  And the older she got, the more time she’d spend at the dance studio.  First it was three days a week, then four, then she started doing her homework there so she wouldn’t lose time traveling from home to the studio.

On her eighteenth birthday, her parents gave her a new pair of dance shoes. There was nothing particularly special about the shoes – as Emily got a new pair at least every few months – but the note that came with the shoes was special.

In it, her mother and father told her that these dance shoes were the ones that were going to get her into college. They would be the shoes that got her the desperately needed scholarship it would take for her to attend a ‘good school.’  NYU was the top school on her list, and her audition was already scheduled to take place the next day.

NYU was a two hour drive from home and Emily was going to have to drive it alone since her parents both worked.  She left at 8am with her dance shoes buckled into the front passenger seat beside her.

She talked to herself, and to the shoes as she drove, mostly trying to pump herself up as she mentally practiced her routines.

It was December and there had recently been a snowstorm.  And although the sun peeked through the clouds every once in a while, there was still three feet of dirty snow piled on either side of the highway, and there were occasional slick spots in the road.

Emily had only been on the road for 20 minutes when it happened. In a flash, a little sports car with poor traction and a driver with an over-inflated ego lost control as he tried to change lanes. His whole car spun out of control right into Emily’s car, slamming her into the guardrail.

Emily had seen the car careening her way, but there was nothing she could do. Force and speed were greater powers, and upon hitting the guardrail her new shoes flew out of the broken passenger-side window, and her body went limp.

Police and ambulances were dispatched and Emily’s parents were called. Everyone rushed to the scene.

When Emily’s parents arrived, they broke down crying when they saw all of the emergency vehicles and the extensive damage to the cars.  Then they were told that Emily was unconscious and pinned inside her car.

Her father, a man raised to hide his emotions, cried for just the third time in his adult life. The other two times had been when he’d gotten married, and when Emily was born.

As the fire crew worked to free Emily from the car, Emily’s father saw her new dance shoes lying in the dirty snow.  He asked a state trooper if he could have the shoes, and the trooper brought them over, shaking his head and offering his condolences.

As Emily’s father stared at the ruined shoes wondering why he’d even asked for them, a firefighter shouted, “She’s out!.”

They put Emily on a gurney and connected intravenous fluids and oxygen.  As they wheeled her to the ambulance, Emily stirred.  Her parents ran over to her, gently touching her and telling her that they loved her and that everything would be all right.  Emily tried to open her eyes, but could only slightly nod her response.

Then, just before lifting her up into the ambulance, Emily slowly raised her hand as if asking everyone to stop.  Everyone froze.  Then Emily smiled as best she could through the pain and pointed towards her feet.

Everyone scanned slowly down Emily’s bloody legs to find all ten of Emily’s toes wiggling in the sunlight.

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What I Learned About Dance Shoes

I missed it!  When God showered the human race dance-shoes-2with dancing talent, I was absent! Don’t ask me where I was. I simply cannot dance!

Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh. If you can call swaying the hips dancing, then I supposed I can dance – a little…

Kidding aside, things changed when I enrolled in several dance classes. (Yes, I was THAT desperate to learn!)  My ballroom dance instructor was great because she would repeat the steps over and over until I ‘got’ them. She also taught me about the importance of wearing the right kind of dance shoes. Why the advice? Well, learning ballroom dancing with rubber soled sneakers does not really work!

I wanted to find out all I could about buying the right dance shoes.

Before she told me what to look for, she gave me some “NEVER EVER” tips. They apply for both women and men’s dance shoes.

Never ever wear dance shoes that are too tight! Imagine forty-five minutes of dancing in ill-fitting shoes! What will THAT get you? Red toes and aching feet! Take it from me. After all the dancing, I prayed Prince Charming would come along and carry me home!

Never ever get dance shoes without heels! The greatest invention for petite women like me is heels! Aside from giving ‘extra’ height, heels also make me “feel” glamorous. Have you ever seen movie celebrities sashay in events with their expensive gowns and high-heeled shoes?! They all look like goddesses!  That’s how I feel when I wear my shoes.

When it comes to dancing, it is best to use shoes with heels that are not too high or too low. My dance guru said that shoes with the right heels will ‘balance’ the weight of the person, making it easier to turn or spin during some dance movements.  She told me to get dance shoes with square heels because they are the most comfortable.

Never ever wear your dance shoes outside the dance floor! I plan to do a lot of dancing so I love this tip.  I bought a cute bag for my shoes and I use it every day. Every time I put on my shoes for lessons, I feel like I’m wearing new shoes! With a little cleaning they will always look brand new.

These are great tips, right? But for a lot of us, the main concern will be the financial aspect; are dance shoes expensive?

According to my instructor, you won’t need to buy the most expensive dance shoes. Just make sure that the shoes offer three things – comfort; arch support; and ability to allow you to glide or stop easily on smooth surfaces.

Aside from that, she advised me to buy dance shoes that are ‘light’. I wonder … Is that her way of saying I am heavy!? At any rate, she told me to get ‘light shoes’ because real dancers “never ever drag their feet on the dance floor” unless it’s required in the choreography or something.

Finally, to get the most comfort, she told me to get dance shoes with extra cushioning. This will save our feet from calluses, bruises and some other foot issues!

A professional dancer I may never be, in fact it may take me months to perfect a dance routine.  But at least I took the first step (get it?). I found a great teacher and a fantastic pair of dance shoes, so there is no stopping me now!

Now, eventhough I was absent when God handed out that dance talent (ha ha), sooner or later I will bust a ‘move’ or maybe even TWO!

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