Nelly’s Shoe Surgeon Reveals How He Transformed The Rapper’s Air Jordans Into Dance Shoes For ‘DWTS’

Rapper Nelly performs during the kickoff of The Main Event tour at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on May 1, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

After hip-hop artist Nelly received a bit of harsh criticism for sporting a pair of Air Jordan sneakers for his first dance to his own hit song “Ride Wit Me” on Season 29 of Dancing with the Stars, he decided to take matters into his own hands to get the best of both worlds.

Prior to the second week’s episode, Nelly shared a video on his Instagram that revealed his one-of-a-kind Air Jordans, which were now equipped with an altered bottom. The artist remarked that the judges had banned his footwear of choice, although Derek Hough — the newest member of the judging panel — merely suggested that shoes made for dancing would help improve his footwork in the future.

In a recent interview with Complex, the Shoe Surgeon, Dominic Ciambrone, described how he was able to transform the sneaker to include a sole made for dance, although it was a rather difficult project. His goal was to keep the overall design and fit of the original product, but change it to move like dress footwear.

“I had to take off the rubber outsole and rebuild the insole with a shank, then add the chrome dance sole and a heel. I wrapped the sidewall with leather and pulled it under to give it shape,” Ciambrone said regarding the rebuilding process.

The unique sneakers gained massive attention — both positive and negative — on social media after Episode 2, which was something Ciambrone was not expecting. Regarding the negative comments Ciambrone’s work received, he addressed that he understood where it came from.

“I don’t think this shoe looks aesthetically pleasing. I know what it looks like. So I understand the comments,” he admitted.

Although some harsh comments came, the positive ones certainly outweighed them. After Nelly revealed the made-over Air Jordans on his Instagram, many of his 3 million followers shared their approval and love for the sneakers.

“They’re perfect!” one person remarked.

“They look good and you danced better in them!” another person wrote.

Many fans simply stated their approval with rows of fire emoji.

Ciambrone revealed that he and Nelly are working on different pairs for future dances but did not disclose any specific details. He did, however, share his goal for each new creation he is involved in.

“We just gotta keep elevating. My goal is to help Nelly win,” he said, while he referred to the duo as “teammates.”

Made-to-order custom Jordans come with a steep price tag. The Shoe Surgeon disclosed that one pair can “run around $4,000” or more, depending on materials and design.