Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to dancing and dancers and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the dancing urban legends featured so far.
DANCING URBAN LEGEND: Marie Taglioni was the first ballet dancer to dance en pointe.
En pointe is a form of ballet that involves presenting the ballerina on the tips of her toes. Ballerinas wear specialized shoes to support this maneuver, which, as you might imagine, can be practically devastating to a ballerina’s toes and feet.
This is one of the more notable parts of ballet that requires a large amount of training to make the body capable of doing such a maneuver.
The invention of the en pointe in ballet is often credited to Marie Taglioni, a legendary ballet dancer of the 19th Century (she was born in 1804 and died in 1884).
Taglioni danced en pointe in 1831.
WAS that the first time someone danced en pointe?
While it is often credited as the first ballet performance using en pointe, it is actually a fairly standard case of a more famous person getting credit instead of less famous people.
Genevieve Gosselin and Amalia Brugnoli BOTH danced ballet using en pointe before Taglioni.
However, Taglioni certainly POPULARIZED the technique, and heck, you might give her credit for developing the technique, as the previous uses of the maneuver were done more for “wow, look at that!” rather than as it is used today, as a graceful extension of the overall aesthetic beauty of te dance, which is how Taglioni used it.
But you’ll often read that she was the FIRST dancer to dance en pointe (a quick search brought up “Marie was the first person on pointe ever”) and that’s simply not the case.
The legend is…
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.