Updated: Oct 22
Taking an entire dance class in heels seems absurd especially when a lot of us look drunk when we try just walking in them. And I know what you’re thinking, “There’s, no way I’m wearing heels to do the zanku.” but I can promise you by the end of this post even Burna Boy will be attempting the zanku in a pair of Louboutins.
First of all, dancing in heels isn't exactly new. Stiletto dance was widely popularised in the 20th century and was commonly seen in jazz dance, ballroom dance, latin dance and other exotic contemporary dances. It was also used in certain disciplines such as pole dancing.
Fast forward to today and we tend to see quite a lot of celebrities on the trend. We have seen Beyoncé during Coachella and quite frankly everywhere in heels , Rihanna walking over grates and on stage, Madonna falling on stage during the BRIT AWARDS in heels (LOL!!), Jennifer Lopez and Shakira at the Superbowl looking smoking hot. Let’s not forget about Yanis Marshall a French dancer and choreographer who shook Britain’s got talent with his killer choreography in heels. All these people have made dancing in heels look effortless and just sexy.
Dancers like Patient James have shown the greatness of Afrobeats and how diverse the genre is by consistently incorporating heels. On her Instagram @afroinheels and her YouTube channel Patience J , she incorporates a lot of energy, confidence and proves that afrobeat & heels are a cocktail for success.
Dancers such as zodwa wabantu (aka Zodwa Rebecca Libram) have shown how sexy, simple and versatile Afro dance can be. Zodwa is a South African socialite and dancer who has literally toured the whole of Africa strutting to Afro-dance in a pair of heels.
Another trend setter in the heel dancing niche is Stiletto london. A london based company that offers dance classes and choreography services predominantly in heels. Classes range form Afrobeats to hip hop, employ a range of talented dancers to lead their classes and is open to beginners.
There has been a number of articles stating heels are great because they make your walk more attractive, makes you appear more feminine and confident. Now check out these 5 reasons why you should wear heels when dancing to Afrobeats:
5 REASONS TO WEAR HEELS WHILST DANCING TO AFROBEATS
Baba Olatunji (African Drummer and Dance instructor) once said, ‘" The health benefits derived from dance go far beyond the gratification you get from dancing for relaxation or celebration. Dance is grounding – its brings you down to earth and that is the first realisation of knowing where you stand. You learn how to relate your whole self, body and soul, to mother earth, that which supports you. The dance to the beat of a drum, obeying the natural law of being in rhythm. And in doing so, you arrive at the place where you are in total control of yourself.” This a fantastic quote and shows that the true value of dance spans way beyond physical benefits.
Now without further ado, let's go through the benefits of dancing in heels.
1. Weight loss
Several studies have shown that dancing in heels has the potential to help with weight loss. You can burn up to 220 calories burnt per hour depending on how intense your session is. Dancing allows for increased blood circulation, and depending on the session, speed and intensity of the class/performance you could burn more.
Afro-dance combined with a nice pair of heels actually targets a lot of muscle groups. When dancing in heels there is more focus placed on the core, gluteus, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. This helps maintain posture and improves balance.
Dancing in heels just like any other form of dance is a way of telling a story. It could be a way of expressing love for one’s body, the attainment of confidence and showing your lifestyle. It allows you to listen to and master your own body. This inevitably makes you comfortable dancing at events/parties and gradually improves your state of mind.
4. Improves memory
When taking on the challenge of wearing heels to dance, not only do you have to subconsciously remember to keep your balance, you need to memorise key steps, the sequence of dance moves, as well as the rhythm that goes along with it. If this sounds difficult that's because it is. However one of the main benefits of taking on this challenge is that it works your mind and improves your memory. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways. You can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory at any age.
5. Relieves stress
Dance has been shown to relieve stress and release endorphins which are pivotal to a healthy mindset. It's basically the happy hormone. If you go the extra mile and attend dance classes, you'll get to meet more people and make new friends which is great for reducing depression & anxiety.
Furthermore, whether you are slow dancing to songs like wizkid's Ease your mind or have the gift of twerking to Olamide's Pawon in ankle crushing stilettos, the benefits of dancing in heels are vast. With that being said here are a few good benefits that didn't quite make the list:
- Lowering cholesterol: cholesterol plays an integral part in health and by moving your body especially when using heels this aids in lowering lipid levels and controlling cholesterol within the body.
- Bone and joint health: by moving and exerting pressure on your bones this creates tiny tears on the bone enabling for the body to fix these (aka bone healing), as a result just like muscle the bone gets stronger overtime.
TIPS WHEN USING HEELS IN DANCE
i. Warm up to prevent injury
Stretch your feet and legs before you start. Wearing heels could lead to muscle injury and could impact your legs as a whole. Giving your lower and upper body a stretch, could prevent some of the weird injuries we’ve seen online.
ii. Use low heels to begin with
Now after reading this post you might want to search your wardrobe for your first pair of heels, but not so fast.. when starting out, we strongly recommend that you start off with low heels and not with high heels such the deadly 10- inch moc crop platform. This way you slowly transition into higher more complex heels without breaking your ankles! Alternatively, you could just pick a heel size you are comfortable with and just stick with it.
iii. Remember your posture
Remember to pull up from your core so that there's less pressure on your heels - this is a little tip from Linda Kuo.
Now that you have some tips on dancing in heels you can safely avoid this.