Pointe shoes grew out of a nineteenth-century fad for ethereality. The dream women—sylphs, naiads, dryads, and their ilk—who populated ballets and drove men mad were all the more alluring for seeming barely to touch the ground. Later, the shoes became more like stilettos for pricking the air and tiny platforms on which to balance regally. They’ve resisted becoming anachronisms by accommodating to violent subjects; choreographers exploit their ability to probe, to stab, and to elongate a woman’s legs into... More >>>