Is a UK dance wear company called Inspire poised to revolutionize pointe shoe technology?
Traditional pointe shoes, composed of a wooden block, leather sole and canvas or satin body, have a long history of fine craftsmanship and timeless beauty - and a legacy of crushing pain for dancers. Ballerinas en pointe risk ankle injuries and are guaranteed blisters and toe deformations. Pointe shoes are increasingly expensive - about $100 a pair - and last only a matter of months or weeks. A professional ballerina in a lead role might use up a pair in a single performance. And have you seen the lengths dancers take to break in a new shoe?
In response, Inspire, which prides itself on being the future of dance, has created the Flyte pointe shoe, claiming to have “embraced 21st century technology whilst maintaining the classical appearance of traditionally made shoes.” The Flyte sole and block are one flexible piece with a spinal construction intended for out-of-the-box comfort. This piece fits into interchangeable outer shoes, supposedly making them much more durable than traditional pointe shoes, as the outer shoe can be replaced when it gets worn out.
Sportsear company Nike is also entering the arena, partnering with dancewear maker Bloch on a project led by Miami designer Guercy Eugene to create a shoe intended as a “training shoe that will assist developing ballet dancers during the evolution from beginners ballet slippers to traditional pointe shoes.” These shoes, still in the conceptual phase, will have a woven mesh construction and "extreme support to virtually eliminate the risk of ankle and foot injuries." This shoe, called the Arc Angel, will also incorporate memory foam into the sole and lacing for added fit, and once they become too stretched for the ballerina to dance in, will be able to be put in the oven to shrink back to their original shape.
Is ballet ready for a new and improved pointe shoe? Is the design world equipped to create one? Only time will tell.
Kat Rhoden, Augusta Ballet Intern