Best Tap Dance Shoes Reviewed & Rated
So if you're taking up tap dancing, search no further than this top 10 best tap shoes list!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When looking for this type of footwear, the oxford design is the most common, but you can find other styles as well, including Mary Janes, or options with a heel. More importantly, the design elements of the way the shoe was constructed can determine its quality as well as style.
Construction and Stitching: The upper stitching will determine if the design will have more flex or durability. More stitches give a stiffer and sturdier hold but reduce the flex of the upper. This can be concerning to some tappers. Those dancers just starting out may need a stiffer shoe for support, but more advanced dancers can sometimes require more flexibility in the foot for quick moves back and forth, or combinations that require the dexterity of the foot to create the desired percussion.
Material: The heel on this type of footwear historically was made from wood, but in modern days it can be made from plastic, synthetic, material blends, or leather. Many entry-level designs have a plastic or synthetic heel, usually half an inch to an inch in height. Plastic heels don’t create the same rich, quality sound that a stacked leather heel can make, but they are inexpensive and more affordable.
Height: A higher heel height can also affect the dance style, and if too high, it can cause discomfort by placing weight more so on the toes than evenly distributing it across the foot.
Support: The toe box design can allow for a snug fit without pinching the foot, so it’s important to understand your fit and foot width, for individual needs. A toe box that has a “cage-like” build can act to decrease flexibility, especially if the upper is designed with synthetic materials that tend to be less flexible than leather. A toe cage can be beneficial for beginners, as it helps alleviate foot strain when learning to use the muscles in your feet.
Comfort: Selecting a design with a comfortable toe box is crucial. Narrow or rounded toe shapes can cause discomfort for those with a wider foot or can cause pinching in those with normal width feet. Having a shoe made of leather or a leather blend can help with toe box fit while maintaining functionality, as leather tends to mold to the shape of the foot.
Topline: The topline is the portion in the upper's build that is essentially the rim line. Some tend to demonstrate a lower topline, while others a higher line. A lower line allows for greater ankle flexibility while an elevated line means much better ankle stability. Some designs have a cut out at the heel for the Achilles tendon. Occasionally this type of footwear will also have top line padding, which cuts down on discomfort or blistering.
Leather: Several materials are used regularly in this type of footwear, but leather is highly practical to build a tap shoe. Leather is strong and holds up to a lot of use and abuse. Typically, the leather is usually cow skin, and quite resistant to water. Another type of leather commonly used is goat skin. Some of the most quality grade designs utilize a construction that has goatskin leather.
It's recommended to go with the least pliable material from which your shoes were made. A stiffer material or leather may take a bit of time to break in but will endure more pounding and use than a softer leather. Patent leather is another popular material, especially for performances, as it creates a luster unparalleled to other types of leather. For some dancers, this is the greatest appeal they look for in a design.
Synthetics: Synthetic, synthetic blends or other fabric textiles can sometimes be used to design the uppers. Though not quite as diverse as leather, each has its benefit when it comes to function and style.
Synthetic or Synthetic Blends: For those conscious of animal welfare, this can be a lovely option as PU or PVC don’t contain any animal products. Be more careful with synthetic blends, however, as many incorporate some leather for aesthetic purposes. Synthetics can be more cost-effective and are usually found in beginner styled footwear. They provide a stiffer feel at a reasonable cost, similar to more expensive leather designed footwear. However, the fit is less pliable and can cause soreness if not fitted properly.
Fabric or Textile: There are a few designs out there that have a fabric or cloth-like feel and look. These are usually designed for beginners or those who may not enjoy the stiffness of other designs. Note that good tap work is usually done because the shoe has a stiffness to it, allowing for precise toe and heel strikes. So although footwork may not be the best, for those who simply enjoy the dance or want to try tap, this is a less expensive option in material to consider.
Taps on the shoe are the what creates the noise due to ground contact. Usually, they reside under the forefoot and heel.
Tap Material: Wooden soles were first responsible for tap, and leather soles were incorporated later. Nowadays, metal is used, but this varies in quality based on the type of metal. Most modern designs have an aluminum base or combine various composites to create lighter or heavier taps, depending on the dancer’s preference. The lightest and usually the most popular metal is aluminum. Check that the taps are not made from steel, as they are heavier and typically not durable.
Shape: The actual tap shape can vary to create different pitches and tones, and when combined with soundboards, adhesives, or specific sole materials, it further adjusts the sound that resonates from the contact of the tap with the dance surface.
Concave vs. Convex: Taps can be designed to have a concave or convex design, which can create vastly different percussion sounds.
Build: Taps can also be designed to be smaller in relation to the shoe, or larger, based on the preference of the dancer. Larger ones create a deeper tone, and while smaller create a slightly higher pitched or snare drum-like sound.
Fixation to the Sole: Taps can be fixed to the sole in several manners. Many brands now manufacture footwear with taps already attached.
- Screws vs. Nail: Taps that are nailed to the sole are permanently fixed and create one sound and tone. These are found in beginner styles for dancers who are not yet sure what type of sound they prefer. Taps that are screwed into the design can be adjusted in terms of their tightness and can create varying sounds and tones.
- Adhesive: Some designs may also use an adhesive instead of screws. There is some debate on how different adhesives affect the sound quality, but those taps affixed with adhesive will have a fixed tone.
- Soundboards: Many of the modern style designs will have a soundboard to which the screws insert to keep the tap on the sole. The material from which the soundboard is made is usually a fibreboard, but other materials can be used and can affect the weight of the design, or sound of the percussion.
Best Professional Tap Shoes
1. Miller & Ben Triple Threat
From the leading manufacturers of this type of footwear comes the Triple Threat, a design that has to be experienced to be believed. Given its high price point, this is definitely an option for professionals - or at least those who are serious about the sport. The Triple Threat comes in a whopping 52 color combination options, as well as wide sizes and those which are orthotic-friendly. You can definitely find a version which works for you!
The Miller & Ben Triple Threat tap shoes are constructed entirely out of leather, upper to the sole. The heel is one and a half inches high, made from a combination of compressed wood and leather, and it comes in a medium and wide option. The front of the sole is triple layered for extra durability. The Triple Threat is exceptionally balanced, and it features a super-rigid sole. The upper is soft and enabling easy toe work and there is the well-known Miller & Ben counter-free toe box which prevents your toes from over-stretching.
As we have already established, it doesn’t get much better than Miller & Ben, and the Triple Threat is one of their most popular and most sought-after options. If you are a regular performer, if you only want the best of the best for your feet, then definitely consider investing in this formidable option.
2. So Danca TA05
So Danca originated in Brazil in the 1980s as a dance apparel retailer, and now provides quality products including footwear to over 45 countries throughout the world. The TA05 is an entry-level design, with alternative PU uppers giving more stability to the foot and ankle, great for starters learning how to use their ankles and feet for technique.
The TA05 has lace-up styling to firmly hold the shoe in place, and a PU upper which give stiffness, perfect for those who are becoming acquainted with their range of ankle and foot motion. Cushioned insoles and uppers give the foot padding for long days and evenings in the studio and at home practices. Designed with the beginner dancer in mind, the TA05 considers durability and safety while learning technique as opposed to a design that allows significant flexibility for the complexities of advanced dance. A semi-flexible shank allows for an individual style of movement, allowing the dancer to slightly bend the foot, as opposed to pushing against a stiffer shank design.
At an average price for beginner footwear, adults will love learning in the So Danca TA05. It has great styling, and the durability a beginner may need while getting accustomed to tapping techniques and movements. True to fit, the TA05 is a great starter option!
3. Bloch Slip-On
While most other options in our guide are oxford style designs, the Bloch Slip-On is, as its very name says, a slip-on! It comes with all the standard Bloch features we know and love, which make sure that your dancing experience is the best it can possibly be. This leather design is easy to put on and take off thanks to its simple silhouette, and you can be certain that it will fit you right due to the elastic insert at the top!
The Bloch Slip-On is a split sole option with a strong heel counter to help keep your balance and a rubber pad at the bottom which prevents slipping. Inside, you will find a cashmere lining for comfort and moisture-wicking for a dry, cool practice session. As most Bloch designs, the Slip-On also comes with a notched collar to alleviate pressure off of the Achilles tendon. The taps on this design are Bloch’s shockwave ones, and the heel is leather and stacked for maximum durability.
Appearance-wise, the Bloch Slip-On may not be what you’re looking for - after all, it lacks the flair of many other designs here - however, it is definitely a front runner in terms of features, performance, and durability. If you’re interested in trying out a design which doesn’t have any laces - don’t hesitate! We’re sure that the Slip-On won’t disappoint.
4. Bloch Tap-Flex
Bloch is a well-known brand of dance footwear, designed for those who are starting out and for those who have a mad passion for dance. The design offers comfort in a leather construction, with a cashmere lining to leave feet dry and wick away moisture. With several design modifications to alleviate Achilles heel pain or allow freedom of movement, it’s a solid dance option.
Coming in two color options, this item is available in full grain black or tan leather, depending on what your needs are. Suitable for studio or the stage, the shockwave plates allow for maximal contact with the floor, and a strong percussion sound. With an inner lining to help wick away dampness, you’ll be able to maximize studio time without being uncomfortable.
For performance, the Bloch brand has designed an upper that allows the design to flex one way while giving resistance in the other direction. A lace-up design has your foot staying snug and in place when performing. A heel notch helps the Achilles tendon by alleviating pressure.
A tad more pricey, the Bloch Tap-Flex is a brilliantly designed option for the cost. The optional colors make it suitable for any style of dress on the stage or off, and durable leather quality allows the foot to be comfortable while the durability remains intact.
5. Bloch Jason Samuels Smith
Bloch does it again with their professional design, the Jason Samuels Smith. Quality made, the construction is designed for advanced footwork and flair, and will hold to even the hardest of taps. Soft grain leather allows comfort and flexibility, while metal bonding reinforces tap and screw placement without the loosening of the screw due to aggressive hard taps.
Without a doubt made for professional dancers, this design impresses with a triple stacked heel for durability, and an outsole constructed from hard leather. A steel resonance plate lies between the outsole and the floor, creating an amazing sound. With hard tapping, screws may come undone in other brands, but with a special procedure that bonds the metal, they won’t come loose unless it’s by the wearer’s hand.
Soft leather wraps the foot and allows flexibility while still creating a decent level of support. Additional lining helps to wick away moisture, leaving the foot dry for those long practice sessions. In addition to comfort, non-slip sole patches for safety come separately.
More expensive than entry-level designs, but affordable compared to other professional and impeccably designed footwear, the Bloch Jason Samuels Smith is a budget-friendly option for professional dancers. Made with quality and functionality in mind, it is an investment well worth your money!
6. Capezio CG17
Another great beginner option, the Capezio CG17 is excellent at sucking up any moisture that may accumulate around your foot. What’s more, its designers poured much of their efforts into making it strong enough to withstand demanding physical activity while being flexible enough to flow easily with your moves. Truly, this is a design for an athlete.
A board shank in the sole is the secret to the perfect balance of flexibility and sturdiness. While it provides the firmness that your foot needs, the CG17 doesn’t keep you from moving the way you want. Known for its absorption capabilities, the microfiber in the sole ensures that your foot stays dry--so don’t be afraid to work up a sweat.
The CG17 is available in basic colors of black and tan, with synthetic uppers. Lace closures allow you to strap it on as tight or relaxed as you need. Attached taps are created with the beginner in mind, but still, they give a quality sound that will echo throughout the studio.
Coming in a variety of sizes and widths, the option is suitable for any dancer, and is moderately priced for similar styles and designs. For those just starting out, it’s a quality purchase, even if a little higher in the price range than other beginner footwear.
7. Theatricals T9500
Here’s a design that has it all -- hardy leather material, great-sounding taps that are screwed firmly into the sole, laces that let you decide how tight you want it to fit around your foot, and just the right amount of room for your toes and heels to be comfortable. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, this is the perfect companion for your dancing adventures.
Made to endure through all the physical stress required to dance capably, the leather used to create the T9500 is tough and yet flexible enough for you to perform all kinds of tricks without wearing down easily. Depending on the strain of your activity (and your personal preferences, of course), you can keep your footwear as tight or as loose as you want with the laces.
Adjustable sounding is possible to create the tone of your liking, with a soundboard and screw on taps. Keeping you balanced is the heel counter, and you can safely try your more advanced skills with a rubber patch to prevent skidding. The sock lining is cushioned for extra comfort, to keep you going long after the studio closes!
Compared to many other designs you could buy, these are priced quite reasonably--another reason why beginners might find them especially appealing because you can start learning the art without breaking the bank.
8. Bloch Dance Now
The Dance Now is a stylish and versatile option for those looking to quickly change between performance pieces, or who simply prefer a functional design that fills a number of roles. With uppers made from combined synthetics and leather, it has a pliable feel, giving flexibility where needed. Non-slip pads allow you to pivot and turn while remaining firmly on your feet.
With elastic ties to add style and convenience, these are great for quick tying between routines. Riveted taps increase durability for longer-term use, but also give a better sound quality. Balance is maintained with a simple half inch heel, keeping you sturdy and confident in your footwork, and a non-slip pad prevents any sliding.
The taps on this design are nailed into the sole. So whereas in other models, you can adjust the sound by loosening screws, these are more suited for beginners learning their craft. The Dance Now also comes with elastic ties and ribbons for ease of use or additional flair.
The Dance Now is available at an average price and made for beginner dancers. With additional features such as elastic ties and ribbons, the style can be adjusted to suit your needs and taste. It’s a great starter option for those just getting into this type of dance.
9. Miller & Ben Jazz-Tap Master
One of the premium brands for the more advanced dance artist, Miller & Ben is a brand that developed out of a need for quality design, sound, and percussion. Starting in Israel, Miller & Ben tested different materials for soles and uppers and handcrafted footwear for students in this type of dance. They brought their impeccable designs to the US in 2000 in New York City, and to date, they provide some of the best footwear around.
Wrapped in high gloss leather with a wooden heel and a rigid sole, this design is all about performance. The Master comes with a low and wide ‘Jazz-Tap’ heel, with taps installed. It has tap wraps as a bonus. Leather uppers and a double leather sole support and mold to the foot. A counter-free toe allows the design to naturally mold to the foot over time.
Made for the more advanced tapper, this unisex professional design is the next step for those serious about the dance. Quality here does come at a premium, however, and the Master is on the pricier spectrum. Only for those committed to dance as either a hobby or a profession, this is one of the highest quality designs around, and well worth the investment.
10. Bloch Chloe and Maud
For this item on our list, the infamous Bloch brand partnered with the iconic dancing and choreographing duo, sisters Chloe and Maud, to create a design that is as fun in style as it is to test out on the studio floor. Thanks to these fiery ladies, the world of tap has become more popular and more mainstream worldwide, and now you can too enjoy a taste of their original flair with this impeccably balanced design.
The Chloe and Maud has a leather upper, meaning that it is amazingly comfortable and conforming. It comes with a removable charm detail in the laces that you will not be able to stop smiling about. The taps on this design are called the Bloch Mega, and they feature a high amount of metal for producing an outstanding sound. You can expect to hear a rich tone from the front of the design, and a deep tone in the heel.
As the brand itself says, the Chloe and Maud is ‘very easy to hit your sweet spot in’. These are not only well-constructed, and from high-quality materials as well, but they are also irresistibly stylish, and sure to wow the audience in your next performance!