Years ago now, we put together this list of myths about the Russian style of pointe shoes. We’re glad to report that fewer and fewer dancers, teachers and directors believe that Russian shoes and American or European ballet technique are incompatible! Every day, more dancers discover the incredible quality, outstanding beauty and marvelous versatility of Russian Pointe pointe shoes. Nonetheless, this article, originally published in the Russian Pointe Newsletter, is full of interesting information about our beautiful shoes. Enjoy!
Myth #1: Russian shoes are narrow
The Russian style of pointe shoes is sometimes considered narrow or “pointy.” It is true that a tapered appearance is part of the traditional Russian style. However, the tapered appearance of Russian Pointes is a beautiful, graceful curve to highlight the dancer’s own pointe, not a narrow, constricting shape.
In fact, Russian Pointes are made in one of the most extensive arrays of widths of any shoes on the market. In addition, Rubin, Lumina, Brava, & Muse are all designed specifically to be inclusive of the wider foot. These lovely models allow dancers who might otherwise be limited to boxy styles to wear shoes with a more graceful appearance.
In all models and widths, the Russian Pointe toe box is crafted to hug the forefoot. Straighter boxes may squeeze the metatarsals, but the exquisite curve of a Russian Pointe holds them with comfortable and reliable – not painful and restrictive – support. In fact, the Russian Pointe box is shaped more like the foot itself, which helps to protect dancers from injuries and deformities.
Myth #2: Russian shoes have hard shanks, for springing to pointe
This myth can be addressed on two levels. First, does Russian technique require springing to pointe? Second, are Russian Pointes primarily intended for Russian technique?
Russian technique is about a lot more than springing to pointe. Vaganova is a complete syllabus and style, just like Cecchetti or any other approach. Springing to pointe is certainly a traditional part of that training, but today’s Russian dancers perform a variety of choreography.
In fact, Russian Pointes are suitable for dancers training and performing in any technique, not just Vaganova. Hard shanks are available for dancers who prefer them. However, far more dancers choose moderate strengths, and our ingenious Flexible shank series (with a unique cutout construction for rolling to pointe) is extremely popular. In addition, Jewels and Spotlight Collection models are made with pliable next-generation shanks that further facilitate demi-pointe transition.
Myth #3: Russian shoes have a V-cut
The V-cut vamp is part of the classic Russian style, and the original Russian Pointe line featured V-cuts with no drawstrings. However, today each Russian Pointe model is available in either V-cut with no drawstring or U-cut with drawstring. Russian Pointe recognizes, perhaps more than any other pointe shoemaker, that dancers’ feet vary greatly in almost every possible way. This is why we offer over a thousand options in each size!
Myth #4: Russian shoes are loud
Just like any other line of pointe shoes, Russian shoes vary in this respect from model to model, and become quieter when the box begins to soften. To test this myth, we compared Russian Pointes to other pointe shoes on the market and did not find that Russian Pointes produced a louder sound on impact. Instead, we found that different shoes had different “tones” of sound.
In fact, Spotlight models, with streamlined pleating, could be considered “average” in loudness. Jewels Collection models have light cushioning behind the pleatless box to help absorb sound, and are perhaps quieter than the average pointe shoe.
Myth #5: Russian shoes are made by Russian cobblers
This myth is true! Genuine Russian shoes are made by Russian cobblers. Those who craft Russian Pointes are highly trained artisans, working within a proud tradition that goes back over a century. Today, they combine the best of that tradition with the needs of today’s dancers. Russian Pointe shoes are innovative, not bound to “how it has always been done.” At the same time, they derive their exquisite quality from generations of experience and technical refinement.
So, what’s Russian about Russian Pointe pointe shoes?
In truth, what really matters in a pointe shoe, just like any other product, is its quality, not where it is made. Russian Pointe works with some of the finest cobblers in the world, and constantly evaluates how our pointe shoes are meeting the needs of beginner to professional dancers. From the sheen of the pale pink satin upper to the embracing support of the toe box, Russian Pointes are the pointe shoes of choice for discerning dancers worldwide.