Posted 31 March 2006 - 10:30 PM
Most pointe shoes are still made the traditional way using layers of fabric and special pastes. If you were to cut open a pair of handmade traditional paste pointe shoes, much like Fonteyn's (which, by the way, were 'Z' makers size 4 zero X...really narrow!!), you would see all natural materials. The stiffened front part of the shoe (the box) supports the metatarsals and boxes do indeed come in many shapes.
Most Russian pointe shoes are wide in the bunion joint area, and then taper down to the platform. Australian-made shoes are squarer. Many years ago, all pointe shoes were made tapered, so the person with a squarer foot was just out of luck! Today, almost the opposite has occurred, with tapered shoes being harder to find.
There are so many options out there now though, with custom shoes, that it almost doesn't matter when you become pro because you can tweak your shoes in any way to suit you best.
Most professional dancers wear custom made shoes, and the color of satins that all companies offer, despite it being custom, are not particularly varied. So when you see a ballerina with skin-toned shoes, she has either used her own pancake make-up, or someone has custom dyed them to suit her. Sansha has just come out with a darker colored satin they are calling 'Flesh' I believe, and they are the first pointe shoe company to offer a darker color in a stock shoe.
I have dyed pointe shoes many times for dancers, and it is very time-consuming!!
Not as time consuming as creating a pair of pointe shoes though. Most shoes are made by hand and created inside out. They start with the specs (specifications) the dancer requires like: Short pleats, 4.5 inch vamp, 1 3/4 inch sides and extra material at the heel, and go from there.
Shanks, which are actually inside the shoe, provide for support in the arch and when up en pointe. Many professional dancers do not need much support in that way, so they will ask for either a 3/4 shank, or perhaps a phillip's insole, which is little more than a piece of cardboard! The 3/4 shank ends right at the top of the arch, which can provise a better line as well. Most stock shanks are made of leather.
Gaynor Minden's are created differently. The boxing and inner shank is one full connected piece. It sort of looks like a black plastic ladle. That is why there is a difference when the dancer is attempting to roll through- the one-piece design sort of acts as a rebound.
Just some fun facts I hope you all will enjoy!