5 Character Shoe Brands Perfect for Triple Threats

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Underneath every musical theater dancer is a great pair of shoes. Proper character shoes (which can also be fitted with taps) help actors dance with confidence and offer necessary support for long rehearsal and performance days. With that in mind, here are five major character shoe brands that professional actors swear by.

What are character shoes?

Character shoes are a type of footwear worn by actors in musical theater, especially during dance sequences, musical numbers, and acrobatic performances. Designed to be both fashionable and functional, these shoes usually have a low- to mid-height heel, closed toe, and ankle strap, allowing actors to comfortably boogie across the stage—and look fabulous doing it.

5 best character shoes

1. Bloch

These professional dance shoes are reasonably priced and serve beginners and more experienced dancers alike. The comfortable character shoes come in soft black or tan leather, and most actors opt for a T-strap and a two-and-a-half to three-inch heel. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to the ultra-popular (and pricey!) LaDucas, Bloch’s split flex shoes have a similar look and a highly danceable flexible sole.

2. Capezio

Beginner dancers (and those on a budget) should not discount this expansive brand. Capezio offers a wide variety of ballet, jazz, tap, and character shoes in classic styles, and its footwear is far more affordable (and widely distributed) than the high-end competition. The Manhattan is straightforward and sturdy, and can easily be outfitted with taps. Strong dancers craving flexible soles can try the Cassie or Charlotte shoes for an elegant look and lots of bendability.

3. LaDuca

They’re considered the Rolls Royce of dance shoes for a reason. Serious performers choose these pricey Italian leather heels, which are designed “by a dancer, for a dancer.” Popular styles for women include the Alexis, featuring an elegant Y-strap, or the Elizabeth, featuring crisscross straps across the arch of the foot. Both styles come in nude or black, and actors can choose two-and-a-half or three-inch heels. Pro tip: East Coast actors should make the pilgrimage to the LaDuca store in Manhattan to try on a few pairs and find the perfect fit. 

4. Miller & Ben

This esteemed company, founded by tap dancers/teachers Avi Miller and Ofer Ben, started in Israel before relocating to New York City’s Tap Emporium in the early aughts. Dubbed “musical tap instruments,” Miller & Ben shoes are hand-crafted, comfy, and ultra-attractive, designed with the performer in mind. The premium shoes can be found worldwide and come in a variety of styles and colors, including the Jazz-Tap Master and the (gorgeous) La Coquette.

5. Só Dança

These durable (and attractive) shoes were first made in Brazil decades ago and have gained popularity with dancers worldwide ever since. The company makes musical theater shoes for every style of dance. You may find yourself particularly drawn to the Tara or Temple. The heels are braced for maximum support, but synthetic leather uppers may not stretch as easily as their leather counterparts. Still, these affordable shoes are worth a shot for athletic movers with an eye for style.

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