If you see a pink satin pointe shoes peeking out from a dancer’s tote bag, do you assume the dancer is woman? Perhaps. Spotting men in pointe shoes is still far from the norm in ballet class, but the growing demand for male pointe shoes has sparked Siberian Swan to make the very first standardized model of pointe shoes for men.
From Custom-Made to Standardized Pointe Shoes for Men
Currently, many male ballet dancers who want to dance on pointe must order custom shoes because finding pointe shoes in their size can be difficult – or even impossible. Inna Mayorova, owner of online pointe shoe fitting resource Bestpointe.com, claims that she receives two or three requests from male dancers each day, desperately searching for pointe shoes.
Therefore a majority of men on pointe, like the Ballet Trockadero dancers, must shell out for custom-made shoes, spending considerably more money than they would have for a standard pair. They may also have to wait a few months for their order, and if the shoes do not fit properly, the dancers will be unable to return or exchange them. Siberian Swan’s new male pointe shoes, named ‘Rudolf’ after ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev, will make dancing en pointe more accessible to men.
Siberian Swan, founded by former Bolshoi Ballet soloists Sergei Bobrov and Alex Kedrov in 2016, originally just created shoes for their company: the State Ballet of Siberia. However, outside requests encouraged Siberian Swan to sell their pointe shoes to the wider dance community. The Rudolf model of pointe shoes for men was announced on February 11, 2019 and will be released to the retail market in March 2019.
Men en Pointe
President of the Siberian Swan and artistic director of the Russian State Ballet of Siberia, Sergey Bobrov, seeks to recognize men on pointe as a unique and competent group of pointe shoe users. He explains:
“It is not that men cannot go onto pointe for some anatomical reason… It is simply ‘not the done thing’, and this about to change.”– Sergey Bobrov
Thus far, there are only a few famous male ballet artists on pointe floating around. Perhaps the most popular troupe is the cheeky, cross-dressing Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, which spices up ballet classics with physical comedy and delicious high drama. However, as more male ballet dancers train in pointe shoes, they can create works where they do not perform as female or don pointe shoes simply for a comic effect.
‘Rudolf’ Male Pointe Shoes
When I first read about the Rudolf model of male pointe shoes, I wondered whether this was a backwards, ballet-world version of Bic selling gender-specific pens for women. (RIP: Bic for Her lady pens.) But actually, the design of a male pointe shoe should differ from those built for females.
“A separate male [pointe shoe] can not just be an algebraically scaled bigger version of a classic female pointe shoe.”– Siberian Swan
While the width of male feet is significantly larger than female feet at the ball, instep and heel, the toe region and other areas are generally smaller. Therefore, the Rudolf pointe shoes for men feature a wide platform and a medium profile. The vamp is classified as medium-high and the box area is roomy, which makes the shoe a good fit for square or slightly tapered male feet.
The Rudolf ballet shoe model comes in sizes from 6.5 (39 European) to 12 (46 European) and in four widths – from XXX (male narrow) to XXXXXXX (male very wide). Shanks can be ordered as medium hard or super-hard, and the shoes come in black or matte beige.
Gents, we especially look forward to hearing how the Rudolf Siberian Swan pointe shoes work for you! Tell us all about them in the comments below.