January 27, 2020 5 min read

What You Need To Know About Pointe Dancer


When you like dancing, it is impossible to disassociate it with pointe shoes. After all, the simple ability to rise on the tips of her toes gave ballerinas to take dancing to a whole new level. 


If you usually like to see dance shows, then it is incredible how this single rise on ballerina's toes gives us a tremendous feeling of lightness not to mention daring. 


One of the things that you may not know about pointe dance is that this is nothing new. In fact, the first performances that are documented date back to between 1815 and 1830 and they took place in both England and France. Just to give you an overall perspective about pointe dance in terms of ballet, the first ballet dates back to 1581 and it was commissioned by Catherine de Medicis.



Dance Wear Changes


It was during the French Revolution that some changes were made in dance wear. In fact, this was the time that we first saw dancers wearing maillots and when flat ballet slippers with tied ribbons became the norm. These were conceived at the time to give dancers a more flexible shoe. So, when dancers were using this new type of shoe, they could perform all kinds of turning and jumping, and this new shoe also allowed their feet to fully extend to pointing. 


Ballerinas achieved such a success that they started to b trained to include multiple pirouettes, jumps, and leaps during their performance. But as time passed by, it was only natural that they stopped using wires and started only dancing on pointe. With practice, dancers discovered that by rising higher and higher on half pointe, they could balance on the ends of their fully stretched toes.


It was only in 1832, that Marie Taglioni appeared on pointe in the first performance of La Syphide. She used pointe dancing as the main choreographic element. However, the dance shoes were completely different from the ones that are used today. In fact, they were essentially a one-sized tube of satin and leather that bound and squeezed the toes into a uniformly narrow pointe that had little relevance to the shape of the wearer’s foot.


As pointe dancing spread, variations in technique began to emerge. For example, while the Russians rolled smoothly, the Italians tended to rise onto pointe with a sprightly spring.


By midcentury, pointe shoe boxes had become considerably harder in order to accommodate the technical demands on the dancer’s foot. In the process of creating harder shoes, however, shoemakers produced pointe shoes with little flexibility, making it difficult for the dancer to have a sense of contact with the floor.


The natural evolution of contemporary ballet technique led pointe shoe manufacturers to nonstop experimentation in succeeding decades. And the result of dance shoes is very similar to what we have now: a wide range of pointe shoe designs from extremely strong to ultralight, in a variety of styles and shapes that enable dancers to jump higher, move more quickly, and accomplish increasingly difficult pointe technique utilized by choreographers such as George Balanchine.



The Pointe Technique


One of the things that is important to keep in mind is that the pointe technique is probably the most iconic element of ballet. After all, it makes ballet dancers look graceful, light-footed, and weightless while jumping. It seems that they are defying gravity all the time.


Pointe is the kind of technique that requires a lot of practice. But the pointe technique isn't advisable for all ages. The truth is that, according to most experts in the field, the pointe technique should only be practiced and used by girls with 12 years old or older. The reason they state is that before this age, the bones in the feet are still too soft. So, if you were training or practicing the pointe technique before this age, you would incur the risk of suffering from deformed feet. 


But the pointe technique requires a lot more than just being able to do the movement with your feet. After all, and before you even start using the technique, you need to have straight, balance, turnout and good pull up of the legs. The strength in your ankles, feet, and legs are developed on the barre - that stationary handrail that we all see when we watch ballerinas training and practicing. This serves as warm-up exercises as well. 



The Pointe Technique Isn't All Roses


While the final result is simply delightful and beautiful, ballerinas or ballet dancers tend to develop sprained ankles, inflammations, stress fractures and deformities like bunions, and dancer’s heel. While this seems bad, when you want to use the pointe technique, you need to know that it can cause injuries by the lack of cushion, no fitting pointe shoes, lack of accessories and overall improper use of the technique.


The reason why you see ballet dancers wrap tape around the toes and use accessories like gel toe spacers is to prevent injuries like blisters, calluses, ingrown nails and bruises.



The Dance Shoes


Ponte shoes are made with a specific structural reinforcement that allows the dancer's weight to be distributed throughout the shoes and foot, and the weight is reduced on the toes. The flattened tip of the pointe shoe is called toe box.


When a ballet dancer is doing the pointe technique, she is not only positioning the feet right but also aligning her body to perform the transitions from and to en pointe. This transition to en pointe can be done using three different methods:


  • Piqué– When one foot is raised from the floor and the ballet dancer goes with another foot directly in the fully extended vertical foot. It is used for adages.
  • Sauté– When the feet in shortly in the air and the ballet dancer springs up and lands en pointe. This is used for allegros.
  • Revelé– When the toe boxes remain in contact with the floor, and the ballet dancer rises slowly rotating the feet downward and then upward until reaching fully extended vertical feet. This is also used for adages.



Costumes For Dancers


There's no question that when you think of a dance costume, you immediately think about a tutu. A ballerina's tutu is simply a multilayered skirt that helps to create the impression of lightness and flight. When you see a ballerina doing the en pointe technique and she is wearing a tutu, this adds to the weightless feeling and beauty of the entire show. However, the main point of costumes for dancers is to simply have a costume that allows them to freely move and that can also serve to enhance the visual effects of the dance movements. 



So, in case you are looking for dance shoes or specific costumes for dancers, then make sure that you pay a visit to our store. Here, you will find a wide variety of items that we are sure will please you. 

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