Controlling the ouch factor of dancing on your toes is right up there with finding shoes that fit and look aesthetically beautiful. Dancers are always padding and wooling, taping and gel-tubing their hurting toes from the friction and impact of pointe work. At the end of the day, a dance student never knows what she will find when she peels off her shoes; a blister, a bunion, a bruise, or all three.
Pain Relief , Modern Materials And Technology
What if someone could invent a pointe shoe that is 100% pain-free? It’s a challenging task when you consider it. In one of my earlier posts, I was stunned and intrigued by the concept design of the Nike Arc Angel. Because my heart belongs to the traditional in ballet, these futuristic designs are head-shakers. Enter another shocker; the Finch No-Pain prototype.
Designed On A Computer, Not By A Cobbler’s Hands
Catatac-Finch Prototype By Dennis Finch
So, how do we make dancing on our toes completely painless? We create a pointe shoe that doesn’t allow any of our weight to go to the toe box. Eureka!
However, as you can see by this photo, it takes major mechanical engineering to create moving parts from rigid material. The general premise here is a pointe shoe that has a stiff structure like a ski boot and has a “ledge” under the heel bone to hold you up.
What the computer forgot:
- Few of us have feet shaped like an upside-down L that can rest on a ledge. Movement causes slippage downward, hence weight to the toes.
- The brain of a dancer will have to be rewired to use her heels as a reference during turns on stage.
- Feet with low arches will have to lean back for support. The swans in Swan Lake will fall backwards.
- Flexibility is a must. Bolts and hinges inside of a pointe shoe is a scary idea. Will they need oiling?
- Gravity is gravity.
It appears that this pointe shoe idea was made public in 2011. The shoes were called Cat A Tac and featured as a computerized design on Catatac.net. From the home page, it links to Finch-no-pain-pointe-shoes.com.
It is now approximately 5 years later. The idea was thoughtful in purpose; let’s invent a shoe to give those poor ballet tootsies a break.
Part Of The Beauty Of A Ballerina Is Encapsulated In Her Gnarled Toes
Should ballet be painless? Isn’t part of the sacrifice and discipline of dance training to earn a few blisters or bruises? As much as it can be painful, professionals do everything they can to put as little between their toes and the floor as possible.
For many, gnarled toes are a right of passage, a sign of a long and beautiful career as a dancer. I am not sure if we should be trying to tame pointe shoes into behaving like comfy bedroom slippers. What do you think?