Reaching New Heights

Due to the change in notions surrounding the ideal attributes of masculinity and femininityPas de Quatre, women were able to move into the spotlight in the dance world. With the introduction of pointe work, the expulsion of the danseur was complete. As discussed earlier, flat-soled footwear allowed for the greater mobility of the dancer. This coupled with the lighter weight fabrics of dresses allowed for the introduction of greater acrobatics and the desire to achieve new heights. Legs, released from their eighteenth-century brocade bonds, flew higher in kicks, spun more swiftly in pirouettes, and leapt farther than before. As well, with disappearance of the high-heeled shoe, the foot was returned to its natural standing position, allowing it to enjoy a greater range of motion: it could arch, stretch and point at the whim of its owner (as mentioned before, high heels along with thick leather soles would have restricted the expressive qualities of the foot) (Chazin-Bennahum 1997). Another development that may have made the transition to pointe work easier was the construction of shoes with squared toes shortly after the Restoration (Personal Observation), providing a platform upon which the ballerina could balance herself. The question that needs to be raised is why did the desire to dance sur la pointe developed at this time? Once again we will need to shift our attention from the stage to the outside world.