Site Network

There's a New Prosthesis Designed for Dancing on Pointe

Simulations of An's "Marie . T" prosthetic design, via jaehyunan.com

There's a new tool that lets amputee ballet dancers perform on pointe. As reported in Dezeen, an architecture and design magazine, industrial designer Jae-Hyun An has created a prosthesis he calls the "Marie . T" (after Marie Taglioni, of course) that allows dancers with below-the-knee amputations to do pointe work.

A carbon fiber calf absorbs shock while a stainless steel toe and rubber platform allow a dancer to both turn and grip the floor to maintain balance. What it doesn't allow the dancer to do? Roll down to demi-pointe or flat.


An tells Dezeen that he wanted to "explore what would happen if you could allow a person to perform on pointe 100 percent of the time," explaining that gravitational forces typically mean that a dancer eventually needs to come off of pointe to relieve pressure on the foot and ankle. Which is a fair point, though he doesn't take into account how much losing the ability to come off pointe actually limits a dancer's movement.

So it may not be a perfect solution, but it's an intriguing step for amputees nonetheless. What's even more promising is that An hopes to continue developing the product with the assistance of an amputee dancer who can tell him what they actually need.

His invention isn't the only new option recently developed for dancers. Earlier this year, inventor and engineer Yusuf Mohammed created a mechanical limb that would allow an amputee to point her foot at the touch of a button. Watch how it works:

Other dancers have had their foot reattached backwards at the knee (rotated 180 degrees) to mimic a knee joint, so that they can flex and extend their lower leg. Take a look here:

This Ballerina's Amputation Didn't Throw Her Off Balance www.youtube.com

And in 2016, Brazilian prosthetic specialist Dr. José André Carvalho developed a special pointe foot that can carry a dancer's weight. However, similar to An's design, it remains in the extended position.

We can only hope that more amputees who want to dance can find prosthetics companies willing to work with them to craft new tools that help them do what they love—dance.

Summer Intensive Survival
Getty Images

There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

Keep reading... Show less
Trending
The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

Keep reading... Show less