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Encyclopedia > Pointe shoe
Parts of a pointe shoe by ohka- cc-by (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/1.0/)

Pointe shoes (also known as toe shoes) are a special type of shoe used by ballet dancers. They allow a ballerina to dance on the tips of her toes (en pointe). Pointe shoes are normally worn only by female dancers, though male dancers may wear them for certain roles, such as the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella or Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream. A performance of The Nutcracker ballet Ballet is the name given to a specific dance form and technique. ... Gustave Dorés illustration for Cendrillon This article is about the fairy tale. ... A Midsummer Nights Dream is a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare written in the mid- 1590s. ...

Pointe shoes are usually satin and have a somewhat blocky look about them. The shoes have two important structural features that allow the dancer to dance on the tips of her toes:

  • the box is a section of stiffened satin (traditionally supported by burlap and glue) that encases and supports the dancer's toes. The end of the box is flattened into a platform, upon which the dancer can balance.
  • the shank is a strengthened piece of material running the length of the dancer's sole. It provides support to the arch of her foot as she stands on pointe.

Pointe shoes are usually made in a peach-pink color. White and black pointe shoes are also very common, but pointe shoes can be specially ordered in almost any color. At dance supply stores, pointe shoes retail for anywhere between $45.00 and $80.00 Non-professional students usually pay about $60.00 for one pair of shoes, which will last for about four months. Professional dancers wear their pointe shoes much more often and order shoes in bulk directly from manufacturers - one pair can last for as little time as one performance.

Young girls usually start dancing en pointe between the ages of eleven and thirteen. Before this, their bones have not stopped growing; serious foot deformities can result from starting pointe too early. Girls must not go up en pointe until the bones of their feet are fully developed and the muscles in the arches, legs, pelvic area and abdominals are strong enough to bear the stress. They should also have had several years at least, of proper training. All of this requires careful evaluation on the part of the teacher. Note that we have three requirements here: bones, muscles, and training.

Once a dancer is ready, preparation for pointe work is a slow and gradual process. At first, it is just strengthening exercises at the barre - for example, simply going up on pointe and coming back down, and then introducing variations in speed and position whilst doing this - for perhaps no more than five or ten minutes. It is only after six months to a year of this that one can start dancing on pointe in the center. The entire process takes time and close supervision by the teacher.

Dancing en pointe can place severe stress on the dancer's feet, common injuries related to dancing en pointe are:

  • blisters - caused by repeated rubbing of skin against the rough hardened inside of the shoe's box. Blisters can be prevented by carefully putting medical tape or bandaids on the dancer's toes before she puts on her pointe shoes.
  • bunions - a bone deformity usually in the dancer's big toe, caused by cramping of the toes within the shoe's box. Dancers can prevent bunions by putting a spacer (often gel) between her big toe and the next toe.

Cuts can also occur between toes as a result of the pressure of a dancer's toenails digging into the toes next to them. Cuts are also common on the big toe and baby toe from skin being rubbed away due to friction between the toes and pointe shoe. A blister or bulla is a defense mechanism of the human body. ... In medicine, a bunion is a bump or bulge on the first joint of the big toe. ... Toes are the digits of the foot of a human or animal. ...

To help minimize pain and injuries from dancing en pointe, dancers use lamb's wool "toe pads" or gel pads like the "ouch pouch" to cover their toes in the box area. Wads of lamb's wool and small gel pads are also used in certain areas where a dancer feels the most pain.

  Results from FactBites:
Pointe Shoes (1450 words)
With the appearance of pointe shoes, the female dancer's technique expanded, enabling her to create the illusion of incredible lightness and to project an increased sense of daring.
The result has been 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 acomplish increasingly difficult pointe technique utilized by choreographers such as George Balanchine.
Use a pencil to mark the inside of the shoe at the spot that corresponds to that highest point.
Pointe shoes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1135 words)
Pointe shoes (sometimes called toe shoes) are a special type of shoe used by ballet dancers for pointework.
Pointe shoes are normally worn only by female dancers, though male dancers may wear them for certain roles, such as the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella or Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The pointe shoe was made out of cloth and covered the dancer's feet, with a small amount of padding so that the dancer's discomfort can be reduced as much as possible without taking away the flexibility of the foot.
  More results at FactBites »



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