There's a New Prosthesis Designed for Dancing on Pointe
There's a new tool that lets amputee ballet dancers perform on pointe. As reported in Dezeen, an architecture and design magazine, industrial designer Jae-Hyun An has created a prosthesis he calls the "Marie . T" (after Marie Taglioni, of course) that allows dancers with below-the-knee amputations to do pointe work.
A carbon fiber calf absorbs shock while a stainless steel toe and rubber platform allow a dancer to both turn and grip the floor to maintain balance. What it doesn't allow the dancer to do? Roll down to demi-pointe or flat.
An tells Dezeen that he wanted to "explore what would happen if you could allow a person to perform on pointe 100 percent of the time," explaining that gravitational forces typically mean that a dancer eventually needs to come off of pointe to relieve pressure on the foot and ankle. Which is a fair point, though he doesn't take into account how much losing the ability to come off pointe actually limits a dancer's movement.
So it may not be a perfect solution, but it's an intriguing step for amputees nonetheless. What's even more promising is that An hopes to continue developing the product with the assistance of an amputee dancer who can tell him what they actually need.
His invention isn't the only new option recently developed for dancers. Earlier this year, inventor and engineer Yusuf Mohammed created a mechanical limb that would allow an amputee to point her foot at the touch of a button. Watch how it works:
This Ballerina's Amputation Didn't Throw Her Off Balance
And in 2016, Brazilian prosthetic specialist Dr. José André Carvalho developed a special pointe foot that can carry a dancer's weight. However, similar to An's design, it remains in the extended position.
We can only hope that more amputees who want to dance can find prosthetics companies willing to work with them to craft new tools that help them do what they love—dance.
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: