Nothing ruins a hot pair of Louboutins faster than an awkward waddle and a painful face.
Linda Kuo, professional dancer and director for dance studio Dancers Unlimited, knows this fact all too well -- and she's doing her part to fix it with a high heels workshop for beginners.
Kuo first learned the importance of proper heel etiquette early in her career when she auditioned to be one of Beyoncé's backup dancers. The judges, Kuo recalls, asked all 500 dancers to strap on heels and walk for them. She was in awe of the confidence and power everyone showed. She was totally unprepared and unfortunately cut in the first round.
"That's when I learned how important heels are for my industry," she said in an interview with The Huffington Post. "Backup dancers have to be able to stand, pose and dance in stilettos for hours, nonstop."
With the help of a dance teacher (who was also a choreographer for Beyoncé) and ten years of professional experience, Kuo eventually transformed herself into a bona fide heels-wearing expert. She offers workshops in her Hawaii and New York studios to train both dancers and non-dancers on how to walk, move and dance in killer high heels.
"The classes aim to reclaim femininity when dancing in heels," Kuo said. "There are too many YouTube videos out there with people trying too hard to be fierce. Sometimes, doing less does so much more."
Kuo echoes that message in class with her students. Below, check out six subtle tips that will have you moving like Queen Bey in no time.
Before you strap on your heels, stretch.
Hours of wearing heels will give your feet, thighs and calves an exhausting workout, so Kuo recommends stretching those parts thoroughly before strapping on your heels.
Even better, take a basic ballet class.
"One of my dance teachers, who also choreographs for Beyoncé, told me to take ballet so I could get better at dancing in heels," Kuo said. "The right way to wear heels is very much like doing ballet. Which is not a coincidence at all because ballet was done in heels back in the French courts."
Ballet, Kuo added, will strengthen the muscles in your calves and thighs that will be worked the most when wearing heels.
Your posture is important.
Throughout her workshop, Kuo constantly reminds her students to roll their shoulders back and pull their core in and up. "When you pull up from your center," she says, "there's less pressure on your knees."
The biggest mistakes she sees women in heels make is when they are hunched over and their knees are bent.
Left: Incorrect posture, with bent knees, shoulders hunched forward and hips straight forward.
Right: Correct, upright posture with straightened leg.
Lead with your hips.
When you lead with your hips, Kuo says, the weight of your body is evenly distributed and you're forced to engage your thighs and straighten your legs. Plus, it gives you extra sass. Make sure you walk in a straight line, with one foot following the other.
"Don't be afraid of your hips," she said. "Stick 'em out, but keep everything else in and up."
Use your wrists and your core for dancing.
Most people do a simple two-step when they dance, but high heels can throw you off balance. Kuo reminds her students to keep their core straight up and to sit into their hips while they move.
"Dancing is really just posing to music," Kuo said. "The key is to finding your transition to the next pose."
When you're transitioning in your two-step, move your wrists, Kuo added. "You give off so much more feminine energy when you know how to use your wrists. And whatever it is that you're doing, be comfortable with it."
Have fun and relax (your face)!
Even if you're wearing the sexiest, tallest heels you can find, most people will be looking at your face. During class, Kuo reminds her students to be aware of their expressions.
"You can walk as fiercely as possible," she says, "but they might look at your face and think you have to go to the bathroom."
As long as you keep your core strong and your legs straight throughout the night, your feet will be a lot more comfortable and you face will look a lot less pained.