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Pointe shoes

Pointe shoes

Pointe shoes, also known as toe shoes or slippers, are a special type of shoes used by ballet dancers for pointe-work. Pointe shoes developed from the desire to appear weightless on stage and have evolved to allow the dancer extended periods of movement on the tips of the toes (en pointe).

Female dancers normally use pointe shoes, male dancers may wear them in certain roles, such as theBottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Ugly Stepsisters in Cinderella, or when they are required to play female roles in plays like Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

The King Louis XVI of France founded the Royal Academy of Dance in 1661, although women didn't appear on stage until 1681. The standards of women's ballet shoes at this time were heeled for fashion reasons.

Marie Camargo of the Paris Opéra Ballet was the first to wear a non-heeled shoe, to allow her the ability to do more complicated ballet movements and jumps. The standard ballet shoe no longer has a heel, after the French Revolution. This change allowed dancers to fully extend their feet, turn, and jump.

The pointe shoes of Marie Taglioni, the first major ballerina to dance en pointe, were not blocked but were padded with cotton wool. The toes of ballet shoes were stiffened (blocked) with glue and darned to give dancers additional support in 1862.

Nowadays, ballet shoes are made in two types, soft toe for general ballet dance training and hard toe for use (pointe shoes), where the routine includes dancing en pointe. Ballet shoes are reinforces in the toe according to secret methods jealously guarded by every artisan. It is recommendable to change ballet shoes when the toe stiffening becomes soft.

Pointe shoes usually look delicate, but they are sturdy shoes made to support and balance a ballet dancer's entire weight. Each ballet shoe has a flattened oval platform at the very top to help the ballerina stay en Pointe.

A pair of pointe shoes is usually expensive, as it is handmade. So as not ruin them, it is advisable not to let them get wet and not to put them on until just before class.