Pointe shoes came into existence as the answer to audience desires for dancers to appear weightless when performing.
The name derives from the shoes evolution which allows dancers to perform "en pointe". French for "on the tips of toes".
Pointe shoe brands commonly create shoes in more than one model to accommodate differing foot shapes and sizes. Dancers have unique feet variations that include toe length/shape, the flexibility of their arch, and the foot's mechanical strength.
Despite the slight variations, all pointe shoes will have two important and common structural features which allow dancers to perform on their tip toes.
The first thing that all shoes of this style will have is a box. This is found at the front end of the shoe and supports the dancer's toes by enclosing them.
The second common structure is a shank - a piece of rigid material which acts as support for the arch of the foot which is pointed. It achieves this by providing stiffness in the sole of the shoe.
The internal workings of the pointe shoe are hidden by fabric to provide a more aesthetic look during a performance.
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