Dance, especially ballet, is filled with tradition. Because of that, innovation has been slow to find its way into design of dancewear and performance enhancement supplies. But new technologies developed at the end of the twentieth century have spurred on new developments, especially in the last several years.
In 1993, Eliza Minden introduced the first successful modernization of the pointe shoe. According to an article by Leigh Schanfein in Dance Informa magazine, Minden used her knowledge of dance and manufacturing to create a shoe using new synthetic technologies such as thermoplastic elastomers and urethane.
Gaynor Minden shoes are manufactured in Lawrence,Massachusetts in a process that combines state of the art technology with fine hand craftsmanship used to build pointe shoes for a hundred years. They are used by dancers in every major ballet company including American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, and the Houston Ballet to name a few.
“Coming out with a revolutionary pointe shoe is as big a risk as it is a big step away from the traditions on which the shoe is founded,” said Schanfein in her article. “It was slow for [Eliza Minden] to gain acceptance [for her shoe], but making sure she stayed true to the aesthetic of ballet made it possible.”
Additional designers have created ballet shoes that look the same as those dancers have worn for over 100 years, but the inside works with the dancer’s foot. There is also a new shoe with electronics built in called E-Traces. These allow dancers to record “… the foot’s contact with the floor, allowing the dancer to effectively “draw” his or her movements in a constellation of data strokes sent to a custom mobile app program,” according to a story by Katherine Brooks in the Huffington Post.
Stretching and Warming Up
While stretching equipment used by ballet dancers might look like Medieval instruments of torture, many of the biggest technological advances can be found in the development of these devices.
BalletIsFun.com lists ten must have items for every serious dancer. Three of these items are great examples of technological advancement. The Trigger Point foam roller is a portable device designed to work out the kinks in calf and back muscles without causing pain.
Foot stretchers help develop strong arches. There are a number of them on the market. They are best used carefully, and are most effective for young dancers as their feet are developing. The science of them has increased over the year, as research learns more about how dance affects the feet and ankles, and how best to strengthen muscles and tendons.
Dancer Dots by Gaynor Minden are little silicone pads that provide a cool and soothing cover for blisters and sore spots. They stick to skin, stay in place, and peel right off when they are no longer needed. These are perfect for ballroom dancers, as well as ballet dancers.
Tradition and Technology Work Together
Improvement in performance along with the comfort and health of dancers is what is driving recent innovation. These products are utilizing advancements in materials and in the understanding of how best to support the foot and ankle.
Dancers can improve their performance greatly by taking advantage of the technological advancement in pointe shoes, and training tools available in today’s market.
The Dance Store in Murfreesboro will be having a very special Gaynor Minden Pointe Shoe Fitting Event on March 17 fro 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. Please call 615.203.5616 to make an appointment. Plan for the fitting to last and hour. A free pair of tights will be your gift with purchase during this event.
Posted by From the Barre