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
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.
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.
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
Soloist by Nadine Ravene
Soloist by Baryshnikov
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
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