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Hi. I'm Eliza Minden, co-founder and head of design at Gaynor Minden. Here for about.com. Today, I'm going to tell you all about how Pointe shoes are made.Well, when you say ballerina, most people think of tutus, tiaras, and toe shoes or Pointe shoes. But, actually, the Pointe shoe is a fairly recent addition to the ballerina's wardrobe. It's been around for only about 120 years or so. Around the turn of the last century two things happened in Italy. Ballet technique became more strong and more robust. And ingenious shoemakers figured out a way to reinforce the toe boxes of dancing slippers. And they astounded audiences with what they could do on pointe.But the problem was that the only materials available for this were 19th century shoe making materials. Burlap, canvas, cotton, fiberboard, paste, little nails. And that's where ballet shoe evolution kind of stalled out for about eighty years until Gaynor Minden came a long.All Pointe shoes work basically the same way. There's a stiff mid-sole that provides support underneath the foot. And there's a stiff toe box that provides support to the forefoot and that tightly encases the toes. The dancer's foot actually goes through a range of sizes during the course of dancing. When she lands from a jump the foot is quite wide and spread out. When she's going from the flat position to the Pointe position, she is actually like this, in what we call the demi-pointe position. And then of course, on Pointe she's up here and the toes are tightly encased in the toe box.So, the Pointe shoe has to accommodate all of that, and that's why we don't take a caste of the dancer's foot and try to make one shape work for all those different positions. Instead, we line the shoes with; it's a dynamic foam that gets out of the way of the foot when it's wide and spread out. But, then when she's up on pointe it springs back to shape to hold her snugly and to keep her from sliding down into the box, which could put too much pressure onto the big toe. What Gaynor Minden did to revolutionize the Pointe shoe was to use modern materials for those components. On the outside we changed nothing. They're still made of traditional pinky peach satin. But, on the inside we use elastomeric materials for the shank and the toe box.A properly fitted Pointe shoe is going to provide support, but not too much. It's going to allow the dancer to articulate the foot, so it's going to be flexible. It should promote correct technique and proper alignment. It should be comfortable, it should muffle noise, It should lessen the impact of jumps. And, it should last a while.
You start out with pink satin and in our case; our pink satin is combined or laminated to our moisture wicking lining. That's then dye cut into uppers and quarters, fronts and backs, which are stitched together by hand stitchers in our stitching operation.In a separate operation our shanks and toe boxes, which have been injection molded, are assembled with the various shock absorbing foams that reduce noise and absorb the impact of landing from jumps. And that also make the shoe more comfortable. That part is then put on a last, which is the traditional foot form which all shoes are made on. The satin upper is wrapped around it, in a lasting operation. And, finally, the outer soul is cemented in place. They stay on the last to dry until they're ready and then they're stuffed and packaged and shipped all over the world.
Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.
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