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Pointe Dancing:
Marie Taglioni is given the credit for being the first ballerina to dance on pointe but no one is really sure. She did perform La Sylphide on pointes (1832) and was certainly a pioneer who developed the technique which was responsible for revolutionising ballet. Toe dancing was transformed into an artistic expression. Needless to say her grace, lightness, elevation and style earned the adoration of her audience and she subsequently enjoyed a brilliant career. She wore well fitting soft satin slippers with a leather sole. The sole and sides of her shoes were reinforced with darning but the tip her pointes was left free. Her dance technique mirrored the bare foot. The dancer's alignment was different and she was less vertical, less straight up and down, with her hips released back and her upper body tilted slightly forward. Her Russian fans loved her so much they were reported to cook her discarded slippers and eat them with a sauce. The Danes choreographed jumping and bouncing sequences in the 1800s and although the softer ballet shoes of the period were adequate; the later incorporation of pirouettes and balances on full pointe instead of demi-pointe, meant new shoes had to be found. Shoemakers needed to make shoes, soft enough for jumping yet sturdy enough for the balances and turns. At first some dancers resorted to wearing a soft pointe shoe for jumping on one foot and a hard one to support the leg for balances and pirouettes. The spectacularly graceful and charming Italian ballerina, Pierina Legnani had her shoes made with a leather shank. Her party trick was to place a rouble on the floor and chalk its circumference. She then did thirty two fouettes with the supporting leg never wandering outside the chalk circle. All this despite being hindered by short legs and little natural beauty. Her influence on the Russian ballet was profound and the Russian school of dance began teaching ballet classes in the Italian method of training. The introduction of stiffer shoes made possible new technical achievements not previously known.

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