Marie Taglioni has been given the credit for being the first ballerina to dance on pointe when she performed La Sylphide in 1832.
Dancing on pointe was transformed into an artistic expression.
Needless to say, Taglioniís grace, lightness, elevation and style earned the adoration of her audience and she enjoyed a brilliant career.
She wore well fitting soft satin slippers with leather soles, which were reinforced, with darning but the tips of her pointes were left free.
Taglioniís alignment was different and she was less vertical, less straight up and down, with her hips released back and her upper body tilted slightly forward.
The Danes choreographed jumping and bouncing sequences in the 1800s and although the softer ballet shoes of the period were adequate, the later incorporation of pirouettes and balances on full pointe instead of demi-pointe, meant new shoes had to be found.
Shoemakers needed to make shoes, soft enough for jumping yet sturdy enough for the balances and turns. At first some dancers resorted to wearing a soft pointe shoe for jumping on one foot and a hard one to support the leg for balances and pirouettes.
The spectacularly graceful and charming Italian Ballerina, Pierina Legnani had her shoes made with a leather sole. Her party trick was to draw a small circle on the floor and then do thirty-two fouettes with the supporting leg never wandering outside the chalk circle.
Her influence on the Russian ballet was profound and the Russian school of dance began teaching ballet classes in the Italian method of training. The introduction of stiffer shoes made possible new technical achievements not previously know.
© Vanessa van Rensburg