What’s The Pointe? Ballet and pointe dance has been around for centuries, but where and when did it really start?

Have you ever wondered how ballerinas manage to glide so gracefully on the tips of their toes? Dancers have been doing it for centuries but it is not as easy as it looks. The pointe shoe have evolved greatly over time. From heels to slippers to the modern day pointe shoe, pointe dancing has really changed with the times. But when exactly did people first dance on pointe? Who was the first to use them? Where did the first pair of toe shoes originate from?

Ballet stilettos?

The first ballet shoes were actually heeled slippers. They were first worn at The Royal Academy of Dance, the first ballet academy located in the birthplace of dance, France. These heeled shoes prohibited dancers from doing any complex leaps or turns. Dancer's quickly adapted the shoes to lose the heel which gave them much more freedom and ability to do more technical and interesting movements. No one knows who actually was the first to drop the heel but it is rumored that Marie Camargo of the Paris Opera Ballet was the first to dance without the heel. Performers could now dance to their full potential without the restricting heel, but soon the dancer looked for something new and more exciting. That thing came to them in the form of a whole new way of dancing, pointe.

The Birth Of An Art Form

Not long after the heel was first dropped, ballet dancer's experimented with new ways of dancing. The first person to put dancers on pointe was Charles Didelot. He invented a machine that would lift dancer's on their toes momentarily then let them drop to the ground. This was received incredibly well by audiences so dancer's began to look for ways to dance on pointe without the help of a machine. Although it is not certain, Marie Taglioni is said to have worn the first pair of pointe shoes on stage. Her primitive pointe shoes were no more than modified slippers that relied greatly on the strength of the ankles of the person wearing the shoes. Marie Taglioniś new shoes kick-started a revolutionary new form of art, pointe.

Power to the Pointe

After the birth of pointe, dancers soon required more support in their shoes. Dancers such as Pierina Legnani started wearing shoes with blocked ends for balance and support. These new shoes allowed dancers to achieve multiple pirouettes and complex leaps. The new blocked shoes were made out of layers of fabric that form a much stronger shoe that can hold it’s shape. These new blocked shoes eventually grew and developed into the modern day pointe shoe that we see worn by ballerinas today.

Although the pointe shoe plays a huge part in the ability of a dancer to rise on their toes, there is so much more that goes into it. The dancer wearing the shoes has to be extremely strong and supported in order to get on pointe. All things considered, the pointe shoe certainly has quite an interesting history. It has developed greatly over the centuries that have passed since Marie Taglioni first glided onto the stage wearing her prehistoric pointe shoes. Like many things, the pointe shoe is not what it appears. It has helped ballerinas to impress and delight audiences all around the world for many years and will help ballerinas do this for many years to come.

Credits:

Created with images by HighTechDad - "Front View of the "New" Pointe Shoes" • irinaraquel - "Eugene Paul Mesples - Ballet Dancers" • pgbsimon - "vintage retro ballerina" • nikidinov - "ballet swan lake ballerina" • pgbsimon - "vintage ballerina ballet" • KCBalletMedia - "Sleeping Beauty_A_2010_201" • KCBalletMedia - "KCB_Sleeping_Beauty_PRESS--33" • skeeze - "ballet production performance" • nikidinov - "ballet swan lake ballerina" • nikidinov - "ballet swan lake ballerina"

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