There's a New Pointe Shoe Designed Specifically for Men
It's no longer just Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and the few pointe-clad male character parts, like in Cinderella or Alexei Ratmansky's The Bright Stream. Some male dancers are starting to experiment with pointe shoes to strengthen their feet or expand their artistic possibilities. Michelle Dorrance even challenged the men in her cast at American Ballet Theatre to perform on pointe last season (although only Tyler Maloney ended up actually doing it onstage).
The one problem? Pointe shoes have traditionally only been designed for women. Until now.
A Russian company called Siberian Swan has just announced the debut of the first pointe shoe model specifically designed for men, named "Rudolf" (after Nureyev, of course). It will be released next month, giving men an alternative to custom orders.
State Ballet of Siberia dancer Yuri Kudriavstev
Courtesy Siberian Swan
Research shows that aside from being significantly longer on average, male feet are typically wider at the ball, instep and heel. Yet the heights of the ankle bones, instep and toes can be shorter. Men's feet are also typically less flexible, and they often support more weight.
So you can't simply make bigger pointe shoes and stick them on—they need a different design altogether to ensure a proper fit.
The Rudolf takes this into account, with a roomy box, medium-high vamp, a wide platform and medium profile. The shanks, made of plastic, are designed to support longer, less flexible feet, with options for medium, hard or super-hard strengths.
It's all the brain child of two former Bolshoi Ballet dancers who launched Siberian Swan three years ago to support the needs of their company, the State Ballet of Siberia. They since realized there was international demand beyond their studio.
Case in, well, point: Even though the Rudolf has not yet been officially released, it already has dozens of pre-orders.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.
But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.