The Circa 1980’s Soloist Pointe Shoe By Nadine Ravene

What happens when a great pointe shoe concept simply fails to succeed in the dance market? I think it’s fair to say that most new ventures feel that a shoe that solves a frustrating problem for dancers has a good chance of catching on in the dance world. Oh, how fickle the feet of the ballerina!

1980's Vintage Soloist pointe shoe by Nadine Ravene

1980’s Vintage Soloist pointe shoe by Nadine Ravene

 Marketing A Single New Pointe Shoe Is Incredibly Hard

Solving problems are wonderful. Sadly, sometimes this isn’t enough. There are many stories of former dancers who try mass-producing their idea of a great pointe shoe design based on the complaints of their students or associates. It’s a huge risk, but one that Nadine Ravene, now a faculty member of the Viktor Yeliohin International Ballet Academy, decided to take way back in the 1980’s.

( Scroll to the bottom of the page for her dance bio)

The Soloist Was A Nail And Staple-Free Shoe Held Together With Flex Materials To Prevent It From Falling Apart.

1980's Vintage Soloist pointe shoe by Nadine Ravene

If you read through all the article links posted here, you will discover that the Soloist was described as a thin leather pointe on one article, and a blush satin pointe on another. What do you think? It looks a little leathery around the heel area to me.

Madame Ravine Had Interesting Opinions About Pointe Shoe Construction Techniques

One of  the most fascinating reads based on the introduction of the Soloist model in March of 1988 was her opinion about traditional cobbling methods.  In this article by the Deseret News, Madame Ravene can be quoted as saying:

“Dancers are by nature a little masochistic; they are the last of the arts professionals to do what they love for nothing,” said Revene, whose dancer’s body and instinctive grace confirm a life spent on stage and in the studio. “That’s one reason why they have put up with the same type of antiquated toe shoe for centuries.

 “Does it make sense? We’ve changed all other types of athletic shoes – for running, hiking, all kinds of sports – using the most scientific principles of fine fit and support, and the newest fabrics. But ballet dancers still cling to the idea that slippers must be made by a little old man at a cobbler’s bench.”

Of course, as a traditionalist, my insides felt a bit of a pang for the precious old man at the cobblers bench. I  think the art of making pointe shoes by hand is a beautiful tribute to the history of ballet. It’s funny that one person’s antiquated process is someone else’s treasured way of doing things.

 Is It Bad Luck To Name A Pointe Shoe Soloist?

When Mikhail Baryshnikov introduced his Soloist pointe shoes in the 1990’s, you would have thought suppliers would have had to post armed guards to hold back the excited crowds from rushing the doors.  Instead, Baryshnikov pointe shoes fizzled out of the market.

Ravene Soloist Versus Baryshnikov Soloist

It’s kind of sad that these two Soloist’s didn’t make it. On a positive note, models like this from well-known dancers make fabulous additions to a rare or discontinued pointe shoe collection. I imagine that the Ravene Soloist would be incredibly hard to find, but maybe trying to contact her through the Yeliohin Academy website could snag you a pair.

Anything New Sends Them Running Backstage

crab

A new type of shoe, you say?

It’s funny that when you introduce a brand new concept in pointe shoe design, dancers tend to approach cautiously and suspiciously; a bit like a crab moving sideways.   It takes genius to breakthrough the hard shell of tradition.

For more, read about Nadine Ravene and what inspired her to make her own pointe model in this 1988 article: Former Ballerina Has Designed A Shoe To Help Dancers Get The Pointe

 

The Mysterious Mayol Of Argentina

It’s been a long, long time since a pointe shoe discovery has left me with barely enough information to make a post. This is one of those times. I have sleuthed and surfed and searched for information about the Mayol brand for months, but haven’t been successful.

The only clue obvious from these photos is the manufacturer’s mark on the sole that says Industria Argentina. This simply means it is a product of or produced in Argentina.

Mayol Pointe Shoes

The toe box pleating is quite wide and the shoe appears to be tapered with a wide metatarsal area. The logo looks to be ink-stamped and not imprinted into the sole material.

Perhaps, this brand is a “contract shoe” for a particular dance theater or school in Argentina, I don’t know. For now,  the Mayol brand remains a complete mystery.

Siberian Swan Pointe Shoes-From Russia With Love

Ballerina wearing Siberian Swan pointe shoesI can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am to learn about another brand of Russian-made pointe shoes, the Siberian Swan brand.  I would like to thank one of my  readers for sharing the information with me.

Siberian Swan. What an amazing name. I can almost imagine the dancer floating gracefully across the stage appearing to walk on air by the very tips of her toes.

There is a mystique and a certain expectation of quality when we hear that a ballet shoe is handmade in Russia. After all, Russian ballet training produces some of the finest dancers in the world. Grace and elegance epitomizes the flowing movements of both the Russian ballerina and the swan. The comparison is perfect.

The Siberian Swan Pipeline From Russia To The U.S.A.

The company debuted in the fall of 2016 as a collaboration between a former Bolshoi dancer and the Artistic Director of The Russian State Ballet Of Siberia. Because one of the founders lives in The United States, there is an immediate opportunity for American dancers to get their hands on ( and feet into) these shoes.

Pavlova, Karsavina And Spessivtseva

Siberian Swan has named their three models in tribute of  some of the most unforgettable Russian ballerinas the world has ever known; Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina and Olga Spessivtseva.

I was able to get an answer from Siberian Swan to my inquiry about the differences between the Pavlova and Karsavina. The Karsavina has a slightly wider platform than the Pavlova. They also mentioned that the Spessivtseva model is for future development, although no mention of how far in the future this will be.

Vintage Footage Of  Spessivtseva


What Makes Them Unique And Innovative

These models have some unique qualities that make them different from other pointe shoes on the market:

  • Heel Construction-The inner heel portion has a little gripper flap Siberian Swan Pointe Shoesto help hold the shoe in place. There is also an elasticized drawstring that centers at the side of the heel for extra tightening.
  • Matte Or Traditional Fabric-You can order your pointes traditionally shiny, or go for the matte pancake look.
  • Standard Or Plus Platforms-Models are constructed with either a regular platform, or a slightly larger one based on personal preference.
  • Toe Covers-You can choose to add handmade toe covers as part of your custom order.
  • Cedar Oil Protection-The models contain Siberian cedar oil extract which has healing properties to protect irritated skin.
Siberian Swan Pavlova Plus

Pavlova Plus by Siberian Swan

It’s incredible how many choices they offer so you can get exactly what you need in a pointe shoe. Another fascinating quality about this brand is that they create a traditional handmade product with a lot of  innovative tweaks.

They offer many more choices with custom colors, four widths and three shank strengths.  Learn more about the custom model options on their official website, Siberian Swan.com.

Russian Flag

Боже, благослови Россию

What’s also inspiring is that all these custom choices don’t cost extra. It’s obvious that a lot of thought went into creating these choices; most likely from gathering information from dancers and because the founders are/ were dancers themselves.

What I love about Siberian Swan is that it is all about the shoe. No hundreds of categories of fluffy dance stuff, just gorgeous Russian-made pointe shoes.

Siberian Swan continues to innovate the design and construction of their brand. As quoted below from co-founder Alex Kedrov when speaking about their vision, they intend to perfect their design for the benefit of every dancer who needs the ultimate pointe shoe.

Taking quite a lot of experiments, and engineering to ensure support, durability, and the elegance at the same time. Another important thing, as you know, is ability to roll through the demi-pointe, so the pointe shoes are flexible enough while rolling through the demi-pointe, and strong enough to provide sufficient support while on pointe. Our shank is made of special plastic, so the shoes don’t need to be broken in. Active arch support on top of the plastic shank is our technology patented in Russia to provide support for ballerina underneath the heel while on pointe, so the weight is not on the toes only. It is incredibly interesting process.”

You can visit Siberian Swan on Facebook where they have more photos and updates of their shoe debuts/ fittings across the country. What do you think? Should we get excited?  I wish Siberian Swan much success with their company.

Keeping Up With Sansha Is A Full Time Job

In between scouting the Internet for new brands, I try to make regular visits to the websites posted on the sidebar. Some manufacturers tend to have the same pointe shoe models year after year. Others, like Sansha, are growing their inventory so quickly, I can barely keep up.

I was stunned to see that Sansha has 8 divisions of pointe shoes each with their own collection of models: 600 Series, German, Essentials, Square Box, Stage Line, La Pointe Numero, F.R. Duvall and Academia Series. Wow!

Apparently, if you have feet that go on pointe, Sansha works hard to create a shoe for your foot type and expertise. Although some of my readers may have heard of the models I have listed below, they are new discoveries for me.

The 600 Series Celebrita Is Ready To Go

Sansha Celebrita

Celebrita

The Celebrita is advertised as a lightweight, ready-to-go model for professionals. From the picture, it looks like it has a low-profile toe box.  The shanks are light weight as well.

One thing I can say for Sansha is that they take lovely photographs of their shoes. The name Celebrita has a festive Spanish ring to it, don’t you think?

The Pointes Under The Essentials Category Make Me Feel Like I Am Touring Europe; No Passport Required

From left to right: Peterburg, Tchaika, Versailles, Prague. Can we say Euro-fever? I love the names of these shoes!

The Square Box Division Is An Interesting Concept

I had to think about this for a few minutes. Why would Sansha create a separate category for shoes that have square toe boxes? Most likely for the ease and convenience of the customer. With so many models, a customer doesn’t have to wade through dozens of tapered shoes to find square box alternatives.

Below: Square Box Allegro On The Left, Cadenza On The Right

The jaunty musical names of Allegro and Cadenza are so perfect for ballet. Although they both have square boxes, they have very different specifications. The Cadenza has a full-length medium shank and platform cover. The Allegro has a pre-arched 3/4 shank.

Bunny

Hello

Sansha Pointes: Multiplying Faster Than Rabbits

Several pointe shoe manufacturers like Capezio, Bloch and Freed offer demi-pointe models for young students. I have yet to find one that offers more than  a few varieties.  The  demi-pointe models like the American & English Soft Toe and Selco are still available.

Acadamia Series: Eight Models With Three Advertised Demi-Pointes

Looking under this series on the Sansha website, you find the models Ondine, Katia, Raymonda and Myrtha  featured as having flexible memory shanks that are available in different strengths. Next is the Debutante which is recommended for first-time-on-pointe students.

When A Demi-Pointe Is Really A Pointe Or Vice Versa

Here is the interesting part: the Flor, Ghislane and Beatrix are labeled as dedicated demi pointes made for the first three years of pointe work. The models are on their toes. Has something changed in pointe shoe world that I need to know about?  Take a look for yourself @ Sansha Academia Series.

Selco Demi Pointe

The Shank-free Selco Demi Pointe

Demi-pointes have always been shank-less shoes with hard toe boxes that were not to be used for going on your toes. Sansha, please explain what a dedicated demi-pointe is. If they have shanks and you can go on pointe with them, aren’t they just regular pointe shoes?

Take the vote and tell me what you think:

 

 

The Mayer BX1 By Studio Danza

Mayer BX1Recently, I made a single model discovery of an Italian pointe shoe with the interesting name Mayer BX1. To my old-fashioned ears, this sounds more like the name of a dirt bike or motorcycle, but that is just my ballet-shoes-should-have-girly-names preference.

The shoe is sold by a company named  Studio Danza in Casagiove, Italy. What’s interesting about their official website is that they not only sell their own model, but other pointe brands like Freed and Grishko.

The Mayer BX1  Is Supposed To Last 3-5 Times Longer Than A Traditional Paste  Pointe Shoe

Mayer BX1 SoleThis ultra-modern pointe shoe is constructed with a special type of flexible paste that has little to no break-in time and a sole design that immediately hugs the arch. According to the specifications, the BX1  paste material creates a moisture barrier that prevents it from breaking down as quickly as traditional pointe shoes. Like Gaynor Minden, the BX1 has shock absorbing thermoplastic toe boxes.

Studio Danza has a modern looking website.  They offer several categories of online PDF catalogs, but if you want to see the Mayer BX1, you can visit this link to the shoe PDF and scroll down to page 8.  You can also visit Studio Danza on their Facebook page.