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

 

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5 responses to “The Circa 1980’s Soloist Pointe Shoe By Nadine Ravene

  1. Francine Rossi

    I love my baryshnikov pointe shoes! They came in canvas, and a matte satin, which invariably bubbled over the box. Bad glue? One of the best features was the thin padding in the tip of the box, they were so comfortable!

  2. Hello Francine,
    It’s great to hear from someone that actually wore the Baryshnikov model. I have the canvas pair as part of my collection and I will always treasure them.

  3. Hi Pointe Shoe Brands! My name’s Inna, and I’m maybe one of the biggest fans of your amazing blog… I’m a pointe shoe fitter myself (mostly Grishko and R-class), i’m also Russian so i thought maybe I could help you finding some information, translating or something. I tried to find your contact info (or at least your name), but there is probably a reason why i could not ) Will be thrilled though if I could help you in any way 🙂
    Cheers, Inna

  4. Thank you Inna,
    I have your email and appreciate the offer. Unfortunately, this site has logged over 20,400 spam comments( !) since it was published, so I cannot post my private email address here.

    I will keep your translating services in mind though. 🙂

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