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About those weird tap pointe shoes...

Posted Aug 24 2008 9:31pm

You are a young dancer in the 1920's trying to make it on the vaudeville circuit. You stand backstage nervously awaiting your turn to perform. Your costume and hair are perfect. You reach down to tuck the ribbons of your toe shoes in one last time. Any second your name will be called to perform. You hear the announcer remind the audience that once you start your routine, you will not come off of full pointe, mostly because of the steel shanks in your toe shoes. You walk on stage, rise to your toes and begin to tap dance.

Toe tap is style of dance made popular in the 1920's by dancers on the vaudeville circuit. It was one of the many ways to keep an audience on the edge of their seat wanting more. The dancer performs a mixture of tap dance steps and modified turns and tricks all while standing on full pointe. Dancers even attached ball bearings to the platforms of their toe shoes so that they could perform tricks such as chaine turns en pointe while in a backbend position.

Video footage of these toe shoe hoofers is very rare. I saw one on YouTube the other day but stupidly forgot to bookmark it (Found it! See it above). It appears in a few musicals and movies from this era.

Toe tapping is still done today, but is much less common. Sansha now makes a lace up pointe shoe with taps attached to the bottom of the outsole like a regular tap shoe.

More information can be found here and here .

Stay on your toes,


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