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Allegro

Bournonville Ballet Shoes

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I was reading a book about ballet dancers and their pointe/ballet shoes, and I saw something that sparked my curiosity. There was an interview with a dancer from the Royal Danish Ballet, with a picture of his ballet shoes, which were black with a white triangle on the top/middle of the shoe. This dancer (sorry don't remember his name) said that these two-colored ballet shoes were the ones used by male dancers in ALL of Bournonville's ballets. They were unlike anything I have ever seen, and I haven't seen them ever, even in pictures of dancers from the Royal Danish Ballet. I am just curious to know more about them, and why/how they came to be. Does anyone know anything about these?

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I think they were used in the 19th century generally. Today in Denmark (or, five years ago in Denmark) the dancers would just say "they are part of the costume," but they're really part of the 19th century ballet aesthetic. In the Romantic era, men wore white stockings to just below the knee--as the men in Napoli Act III still dress--and the white in the shoe carried through the white of the stocking, emphasizing the line of the foot. The Danes wore them in other ballets as well. I've seen photos of it in "Dream Pictures," for example, but it's in every extant Bouornonville ballet except "La Sylphide" (where the men wear kilts).

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I just happen to have about 2000 photos of Danish male dancers littering my living room floor at the moment :( (I'm scanning the photos for my book) and 200 of them are on my computer. So I put two up on a page on the main site. You can see the shoes clearly.

http://www.balletalert.com/dancers/bshoes.htm

(p.s. to Estelle -- I changed your url on the Links page as well)

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I like them. I was really excited just before the recent SAB performance of Napoli excerpts.....but then learned that, alas, they weren't going to wear "the shoes." :(

I like lower front-vamp slippers--at one time Sansha made two styles of canvas slippers...I jumped through many hoops getting them as I thought they made the foot look much better.

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Wow! Thanks for the info. I sort of like those. The pics really helped me see how they made sense to have the white extending down into the shoe.

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I like them too! I remember the first time I saw the Royal Danish, when I was around 16, and I thought the men had the most incredible feet! :(

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I know! They need to make shoes for dancers now that gives the same illusion! Maybe not black/white, but the cut of the shoe could mimic that maybe.

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Juliet, do you know if these shoes are easily available here? I don't know where the Danes get them, but there are no Danish ballet shoemakers, as far as I know.

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I wonder if the triangle of white is functional elastic or kidskin anymore, the way they used to be, or if they're just cosmetics, done with shoe dye.

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The ones I saw (live, in rehearsal) were canvas, I think, but definitely not dyed. I think you can see that in the Napoli photo -- you can in the real photo, anyway, but you have to see it on the on-line version. The wedge is a bit raised, and you can see a seam.

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I am told that they are just painted white now. I don't know about "in the old days."

I always liked the way it looked--glad I am not the only one.....

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