Almost a year later and...yep, we're still in a global pandemic. As COVID-19 drags on, your pre-pandemic footwear is probably on its last legs by now (if it was ever up to dancing all day on floors that aren't sprung). And even when we do finally return to the stage, dancing in non-traditional spaces is a trend that's likely to stick around. Sporting a new pair of kicks designed specially for dancers might be just the boost you need to meet the dance world's "new normal" head-on.
Here, everything you need to know about the next-generation sneaker and handy spin spot that'll make this spring feel like the fresh start dancers deserve.
Questionable Flooring, Solved
Raise your hand if you've had to dance on concrete, in an outdoor setting or on nondance hardwood lately. Everyone? That's what we thought. Bloch's new sneaker, the Alcyone, has the intense support and cushioning needed to protect a dancer's most important asset (their feet), even in less-than-ideal settings. Contemporary dancer and group fitness instructor Justine Ayala raves about the Alcyone's sheer strength in terms of support. "I have super-flexible feet and I roll in, so I was getting a lot of pain and cramps in my arches from teaching all day," she explains. "Having the Alcyone's level of support under my instep made a huge difference."
Bloch Product Specialist Francina Hahn says that this difference is literally by design. "In addition to a pad in the heel for extra comfort, the insole is three layers," she says, adding that the incredible arch support comes from a slip-on fit equipped with a lacing mechanism that dancers can tighten to their preferred comfort level.
Support and comfort aside, what if you're dancing on a surface that's not exactly turning-friendly? Enter Bloch's next full-service solution: the BLOCHspot. It's a suede sticker that turns the Alcyone (or any dance or street sneaker) into a totally pivot-able and pirouette-able shoe.
Not Your Teacher’s Dance Sneaker
Kathleen Mitchell sporting the new BLOCHspot
(Igor Burlak, courtesy Mitchell)
No shade to the split-sole sneakers that have gone before, but let's be honest: They made for a...distinctive look. The Alcyone is a different breed entirely, blending in flawlessly with the athletic sneakers that many hip-hop and jazz-funk dancers are opting to wear of late. For starters, Hahn says that it's much more lightweight than dance sneakers used to be. Even the colorways nod to actual fashion trends: The shoe will be available in eye-catching silver, Instagram-friendly rose gold/gold and always-classic black.
Speaking of expanding ideas of what a dance shoe looks like, you can use the BLOCHspot to transform just about any street shoe. Just stick the BLOCHspot on the bottom of your shoe's sole, and you'll be much more agile in heels class or mobile in a pair of combat boots. Kathleen Mitchell, postgraduate rehearsal director and shoe manager at Boston Ballet, says that the BLOCHspot has been a literal game-changer for her. "I used to glue my own suede to the bottom of shoes with rubber cement so that I wouldn't stub my toes while teaching," she says. "The BLOCHspot glides so much better, while still leaving a little traction around the edges."
Quality to Outlast the Pandemic
Now more than ever, dancers need gear that lasts and lasts. Mitchell has been delighted to find that the BLOCHspot hasn't come unstuck on any of her teaching shoes throughout the pandemic era. "Most teaching shoes have ridges or irregular surfaces on the bottom that make it difficult for adhesive to grab on," she says. "Whatever the magic material of the Spot, it has a little elasticity that means it molds itself to the ball of the shoe."
As for the Alcyone, Hahn says the shoe is tough enough to be worn to and from the studio (or whatever's standing in for a studio these days), not just while dancing. Ayala's experience testing the Alcyone bears that out: "Usually, shoes last me six to eight months, but these were still going strong at 10 months"—just like dancers are.