Tag Archives: vintage pointe shoes

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

 

Bolshoi Pointe Shoes

The Mystery Of The Bolshoi Pointe Shoe

At first, I was very skeptical about writing this article. I wanted to write about the Bolshoi pointe shoes after obtaining enough information about them to have something to offer my readers.

After 2 months of very frustrating research, I’m right back to square one. I’ve decided to share my story and tell you everything I do know about them.

The first time I ever heard about Bolshoi pointe shoes was when my friend, Monica Newell, mentioned having photographs of pre-glasnost era pointe shoes. Monica is  the talented  head designer of Costume Creations in London and is deeply entrenched in the ballet world.

The Bolshoi Theater was in London in 1992. At that same time, Monica stopped by the Porselli Dance Shop near Covent Garden. There, inside a bargain bucket, were several pairs of Bolshoi pointe shoes. Loving the Bolshoi like she does, Monica instantly purchased the lot.

Knowing that the Bolshoi dancers were in town, Monica had a notion to stop by the Gandolfi shop and inquire about the Bolshoi pointe shoes. Lo and behold, the clerk produced 2 bags full of discarded Bolshoi pointe shoes. Monica purchased the second lot and has had them ever since.

Photographs of the Bolshoi pointe shoes were taken, and this is about as far as the story goes. I have spent numerous hours sending e-mails to various departments at the Bolshoi Theater with no response. I have tried contacting Bolshoi dancers through their Facebook pages, spoken with pointe shoe makers, and gone through listings of museums and dance historians only to come up empty- handed.

I was fortunate enough to be given one pair for my collection. The Bolshoi pointe shoes are a true Russian pointe shoe. They are incredibly hard! They are pre-arched with a v-vamp, high sides and heels, and no drawstring. The soles on the Bolshoi pointe shoes are totally unique. The leather is brushed for traction.

I have so many questions about these pointe shoes! Who made them? Why did the Bolshoi Theater stop making them? Did the dancers themselves complain about the shoes? Why is information about them so difficult to find?

The Bolshoi pointe shoes were made and used before 1985 which can make getting information about them difficult, but not impossible. If any of you have any advice, leads, or information about the Bolshoi pointe shoes please feel free to contact me. Any comments are welcome.

These pointe shoes are historical artifacts and a part of the wonderful legacy of the Bolshoi Theater. I believe that someone, somewhere, knows exactly what happened to these magnificent Russian pointe shoes…

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF MONICA NEWELL/ COSTUME CREATIONS U.K.

Pointe Shoe Made by The Bolshoi Theater

Bolshoi Brand ballet-pointe shoes

Traditional Russian design with no drawstring

Bolshoi Pointe ShoesBolshoi pointe shoes

Bolshoi pointe shoe sole

Soles are brushed leather for traction

Bolshoi pointe shoes