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The Evolution of Pointe Shoes

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Clarissa Leal

on 20 May 2014

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Transcript of The Evolution of Pointe Shoes

A Few Things to Know Before We Start...
No, they are not called "Toe Shoes". They are pointe shoes.
The Creation and Evolution of Pointe Shoes
By Clarissa Leal and Gabby Ponthier
The box is not wood, it is a fabric that has gone through a paper-mache type of process where it becomes very hard.
They didn't always have pointe shoes. Originally, they had soft shoes, also called demi-pointe shoes or slippers. These shoes are made out of canvas, or more popularly leather. Some shoes are made out of both materials. These shoes have been around since ballet was created.
These shoes are demi-pointe shoes made out of canvas.
The First Pair
Early 1800s
More Modern Pairs
From later 1800s - Modern Times
Gaynor Mindens
Early 1990s - Today
Frequently Asked Questions
Have you ever seen dancers in a ballet , classes, or maybe just in a video? Have you seen the shoes they wear? It is quite fascinating! They make it look effortless, but it is
harder than it seems to be. Believe it or not, before the modern pointe shoes of today, they were even HARDER to use.
Not normally. Sometimes men will wear pointe shoes for comedic effect, such as for the Stepsister characters in Cinderella (men are often cast as the sisters). Male ballet dancers usually wear a leather or canvas slipper with a soft sole, which allows the foot flexibility when jumping. (
The Point of Pointe Shoes by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
) Although, some men do take up the art of pointe in classes to gain even more strength.
Do men ever wear pointe shoes, and if yes, why?
How old are dancers when they first get "en pointe"?
In most cases, somewhere between age 11 and 13. A young dancer must have several years of good dance and strength training to ensure that her feet, ankles and legs are strong enough to handle the stress of dancing on her toes (The Point of Pointe Shoes by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre).
Any other questions?
Skip to 00:45 and continue until 02:29
More Modern Pairs
Some examples of these are Bloch, Grishko, and Russian Pointe. In the picture we are showing a Grishko pair of pointe shoes.
The First Pair
Thanks for Watching!
People believe that ballet is a beautiful thing. Some people wanted to make it look as if the dancer is "floating on air". This brought people to making shoes that were tightly-fitted slippers with a leather sole and some darning on the sides. Maria Taglioni is said to be the first person to wear these shoes in a full-length ballet. In 1832, she performed
La Sylphide
, a story of a man who tries to catch a Sylph, also known as a nymph in greek mythology, and when he finally caught her, he ends up accidentally killing her. Taglioni performed the role of the Sylph and the audience loved her and new effect her shoes brought. This was the start of a great invention.
The first couple of pairs of pointe shoes were great, except they had a few flaws. The box wasn't nearly hard and supportive enough for people to do anything more than take a few steps on the platforms (flat area of shoe at tip). When pointe shoes were originally introduced, people would love seeing when Taglioni would go up on her toes. It seemed unreal. This got people to work. They made the boxes (hard sides of pointe shoes) and platform stronger by using different materials such as canvas, linen, other fabrics, and glue. They would put multiple layers of fabric and glue so it becomes very hard. This process is very similar to paper-mache. Also, they would take the shanks (sole area inside shoe) and make them out of hard leather, burlap, cardboard, and more recently, they will add a small piece of plastic.
Inside diagram of a Gaynor Minden shoe.
Gaynor Mindens
Gaynor Minden is a brand that are making pointe shoes with modern materials. These shoes were first introduced in April of 1993 by Eliza Minden. These shoes are so different because they last 3-5 times longer than normal shoes. This is because they have elastomeric shanks and boxes, meaning that the material the boxes and shanks are made out of is very hard to break and tear down. This helps out greatly because one pair of pointe shoes end up costing nearly $100 and you could need to buy a new pair up to every performance depending on the difficulty of the ballet.
How Gaynor Minden Pointe Shoes are Made
In conclusion, pointe shoes have changed very much over time. They bring a beautiful effect to ballet and many people are thankful they were invented. Pointe shoes will continue to bring an unreal lightness to ballet forever. They might have a couple of modifications in the future, but they will be used around the world for a very long time.
Then there was....
Soon after those were invented....
Full transcript