If you’ve been performing ballet for quite a while now, you may have knowledge on how the famous ballet flats came to be. For those who are just starting, it’s probably helpful to the history of ballet, ballet dance attire, and ballet dancing shoes. Since they are the most iconic of all items associated with this dance, ballet shoes are worth inquiring into. Here is a very brief history the lovely flat shoes that can also be the symbol for the rigorous preparation and formal perfect that ballet requires.
Whether you are a student or a professional, pointe shoes are a must during a performance, both on stage and in the rehearsal studio. Because of their shape and design, ballet pointe shoes allow the dancer to stand and maintain balance on the edge of her toes, giving the audience the appearance of featherweight and delicate movements.
In the ballet world, these are more commonly known as toe shores. The toe shoes important components are the sole, the shank, and the toe box. It’s not only female dancers who wear toe shoes but also the male ones, especially if the roles requires them to. Ballet is all about perfecting the posture, extension and being end point. Thus, wearing shoes that help you to stand on your pointed toes visually enhances your movements.
It is the 17th Century France where ballet flourished, when Louis XIV was ruler of the monarchy. Perhaps surprising to many, women were not initially allowed to dance ballet in those times. They were eventually welcomed in 1681, two decades after King Louis XIV established the Royal Academy of Dance in 1661. Ballet dancing shoes then were heeled, inspired by the dance costumes in court performances.
Maria Camargo, a dancer from the Paris Ballet Opera, then replaced the heeled ballet shoes with flats. She tied her shoes to her ankles to be able to perform quick leaps and jumps.
Through the years ballet dancers experimented with their dance supplies to come up with better garments to wear. There was even a time when performers tied their shoes to wires so they could be elevated and hoisted in the air. Charles Didelot’s invention called “fliging machine” aided them to perform this feat. It was the dancer Marie Taglioni who first wore toe shoes without the help of wires, and in 1832’s performance of the “La Sylphide,” she wore what may be a prototype of the modern ballet toe shoes.
Eventually the design was further developed centuries on, with many modifications in material. There were ballet shoes formed with cardboard, old newspapers and flour paste, and there were shoes made from layers of cloth. Anna Pavlova, the great ballet dancer, then came in and revolutionized ballet footwear. She worked with a shoemaker named Capizio with a design that would become the modern ballet flats. The toe became harder, more stiff, and square. Paste, glue and plastic and rubber were incorporated in later designs to achieve the ergonomics suited for the demands of ballet dancing.
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