Ballet shoes as technology


12 Responses to “Ballet shoes as technology”

  1. C Jacklin says:

    They standardized bodies? Oh, if only that were true. I did ballet as a kid and was so thrilled to be en pointe, but alas, hormones and genetics took over.  My  C cup boobs put an end to my National Ballet School dreams.

    • HowDidYouMakeThis says:

      You and me both, sigh.

      • EH says:

        They standardized bodies? Oh, if only that were true.

        It is. You were filtered out in ballet’s standardization process, as is nearly everyone who draws center-of-gravity-affecting changes in the genetic lottery.

  2. holyalmost says:

     I can appreciate the shoes and how they allow dancers to carry themselves in ways that I would otherwise consider completely impossible for the human body. But I can’t really appreciate the concept that “Dancers became ‘like IBM machines,’ modern and indistinguishable.”  I doubt that’s what any ballerina really strives for.

    • chgoliz says:

      It’s hard to explain: you have to train your body to do everything in exactly the right way, so in that regard you really are indistinguishable (your leg cannot be held any higher or at a slightly different angle than any other dancer in the corps, for example), and yet of course you want to distinguish yourself as the right choice for a starring role.

  3. Just wanted to make it clear that the post is reporting on a research presented by Whitney Laemmli at the Society for the History of Technology meeting this week.

  4. trackofalljades says:

    “I doubt that’s what any ballerina really strives for. ”

    Something tells me you may never have known anyone seriously into ballet?

    As mentioned above, it’s a rigid standardization process…one of the more grueling ones out there in fact.  I don’t think anybody personally familiar with that world would hesitate to compare it to SEAL training or trying out to become an astronaut.  While a dancer might feel some limited freedom to “express” herself in an occasionally personal way once she’s attained significant acclaim, for the most part they’re supposed to be obedient and interchangeable cogs in a machine, the tools for the director/choreographer.  The shape, size, weight, and other physical characteristics of the body itself are a major part of that.  Some dancers even refrain from many forms of “normal” activity or exercise for fear that they might develop in more normal, typically considered “healthy” ways.

  5. north says:

    A pair of her [Marie Taglioni's] shoes sold for 200 rubles and was cooked and eaten by her admirers.

  6. Lindz says:

    “long lean muscles”

    Oh Christ not this crap again.  Your muscles change length when you use them, ie when the contract they shorten and when they relax they lengthen.  A training regimen can’t change muscle length. 

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Your muscles change length when you use them, ie when the contract they shorten and when they relax they lengthen. A training regimen can’t change muscle length.

      I think that you’ll find that a training regimen that includes strength training without stretching will indeed shorten your muscles and limit your range of motion.

  7. jackie31337 says:

    I danced ballet as a hobby for most of my youth, but only started dancing on pointe at age 16 due to a previous ankle injury. I never really got the hang of it, and stopped at the end of the year when I went to college. I don’t know what my legs would look like if I had danced on pointe for any significant length of time. Having danced has given me significantly larger thigh and calf muscles than most people, and has given me a tendency to actively use my whole foot more.

    I do remember hearing all kinds of tales from the other girls in the class about how to perfectly tweak pointe shoes. Among other things, they recommended baking them in the oven, slamming them in doors, etc. I’m not sure how any of those things were supposed to help. I mostly just wore mine whenever I could to help them shape to my foot.

  8. Chris Larson says:

    I can’t seem to find a reference to the paper. Can someone direct me to the source material?

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